Sunday, 1 September 2013

Why ATOS are getting it wrong - Part 2

2. LIMA, and abuse of the concept of the typical day

When ATOS carry out an assessment, the assessor uses a computer system called LIMA. The manual is available here: although it's an old version from the incapacity benefit days, it explains a great deal to anyone who has read an ESA report, so it obviously works in a similar way still.

The key thing to note is the way the 'typical day' box is used. The assessor asks the claimant what he or she does on a typical day, and the computer extracts keywords from this to suggest which descriptors might apply. The computer rules out descriptors that cannot apply due to the claimant's abilities on a typical day.

At this point, it is worth noting how the law views ability and inability. Since a case called Moyna, it is pretty well established that a broad view must be taken of fluctuating conditions, so that a person who can manage things only occasionally is not deemed able to do them often enough to count as able to do them at all. If a person is usually able to manage things, on the other hand, he or she is deemed able to do them.

Therefore the ATOS concept of the typical day is a potentially valid one, provided that activities entered here really do represent activities managed on a typical day. As you may have guessed, this is the problem.

I've seen an 'ability' to see a GP every 6 weeks entered in the 'typical day' box. This was then extrapolated by LIMA to deny the claimant points for ability to deal with unfamiliar people. There was also no finding that he managed even those 6-weekly occasions in a reasonable manner without getting too upset, contrary to further case law on what is meant by 'ability'.

Another common thing entered in the 'typical day' box is: turning up to the ATOS assessment! This is used to deny a range of descriptors, with incorrect findings (or no findings) as to the repeatability of having to do this on a daily basis, or how well the claimant coped with it on the one occasion, or whether excessive pain resulted. Other offending entries here are occasional hobbies, visits to family, cooking a proper meal once a week or fortnight, and going shopping once a week or fortnight.

No wonder that all of these things being done at once on a 'typical day' results in an adverse finding. Yet an ability to do those things occasionally is perfectly consistent with quite severe limitations.

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