I am a 42 year old male with Parkinson's Disease and I receive ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) benefit. I recently discussed the subject of my ability to return to work and it's not good, my symptoms are getting worse and there is no cure. Can I retire early under medical grounds as I am being subjected to ATOS medicals every few months. I think that ESA is aimed wrongly here and I think it should be based on something else as it is aimed at employment?
For those who are not aware, Employment and Support Allowance provides financial help to people who are unable to work because of illness or disability. It also provides personalised support to those who are able to work.
Employment and Support Allowance involves a medical assessment called the Work Capability Assessment. This assesses what you can do, rather than what you cannot, and identifies the health-related support you might need.
The ESA is not the simplest of benefits but ultimately if it is decided that a claimant has a limited capability for work-related activity then they will have to meet strict work-related conditions in order to continue getting full benefit.
Obviously this can be frustrating for someone with a condition such as Parkinson's Disease because of the changing nature of the condition from one day to the next.
I suggest that you visit the Parkinson's UK website, which is a registered support and research charity. They have particularly useful section explaining your rights and benefits as well as a guide to ESA and Parkinson's Disease which covers everything from making a claim to overcoming the problems Parkinson's sufferers typically encounter with ESA, in particular in relation to the medical assessments.
Also make sure you read their information sheet covering the benefits available to those with Parkinson's Disease.
With regard to pensions, usually the earliest age at which you can receive pension benefits is 55 but it may be possible to retire earlier on ill-health grounds - so contact your company pension scheme. Unfortunately the State Pension can only be collected once you reach state pension age.
I hope that helps.
Money to the Masses