Good morning, I just telephoned the MS helpline with the high hopes of advice about my problem posted yesterday regarding starting work while claiming ESA. I had great expectations because of the claims of having fully trained staff and benefits was listed as one of the categories they can advise on. Guess what ? The person I spoke to have me the usual erm, ah, um, erm, yeah, oh, erm, um, ah…we’re not experts on benefits, I suggest you phone an MS legal officer or there is a charity who might be able to help… Grrrr…
Pat, try the ‘Benefits and Work’ website. For most info you have to join… about £20 for a year, but well worth it. Loads of good info and guides to all benefits.
They also have a very good member’s forum with lots of people very up on all benefits. I’m sure someone will be able to advise you.
I think you are being too hard on the helpline.
They probably can and do advise on benefits in general but yours is a specialist query. The book which is often referred to by specialist benefit advisors is way thick and very challenging to understand. The rules connected with benefits are very complex and constantly evolving. The helpline staff did absolutely the right thing to suggest you try someone with more in-depth knowledge.
CAB keep up to date with the frequent changes that are occurring to do with work and benefits but I suspect that even they would be unable to give you definitive answers since the outcome of your query depends on unknown factors. Will you be fit for work at the end of this temporary contract? Will you in fact be able to fulfil this contract? What will the DWP make of you chopping and changing your health status?
I am sorry to be harsh but I think your expectations of the helpline were unrealistic
We are sorry to learn of your disappointment on phoning the MS Helpline.The Helpline can give up-to-date information about benefits and offer support to people in their experience of claiming or being assessed for benefits, but we don’t give advice. We’re going to review our web page to make sure it’s clear that we can provide information and signposting to advice services, but that we can’t give advice ourselves.
The MS Society publication Employment and support allowance might be of use to you, and tells you where else you might be able to get help with your questions. For example:
The charity Turn 2 Us provides free and confidential information given by trained professional advisers on welfare benefits.
The Department of Work and Pensions’ Benefits Enquiry Line may be able to answer any specific about benefits claims.
The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) can sometimes provide free, confidential and independent advice.
You can contact the MS legal officer at the Disability Law Service (DLS) for free advice on your rights.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us again if there’s anything else we might be able to help with.