‘Angry and tired!’: Outrage as Briton loses £94 a month following PIP reassessment

Justin Tomlinson gets questioned on PIP assessments

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PIP is a benefit payment designed to help those with long-term disabilities or illnesses with the consequential financial costs that result from having their conditions. Due to the nature of the benefit, claimants must go through a reassessment process to make sure they are getting enough support from the DWP and to see whether they still need the financial support to complete certain tasks. However, the process has faced a barrage of criticism for discriminating against PIP claimants.

According to disability equality organisation Scope, more than 12,000 disabled people are successfully overturning incorrect PIP decisions each month.

One of the many people affected by these procedures is Carol, 44, from Leeds who has multiple health conditions including osteoarthritis and the connective tissue disorder hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS).

Over the last couple of years, she has been receiving the lower rate of PIP from the DWP but the mobility component of her payment was recently removed following a reassessment.

With the removal of the mobility part from her payment, Carol is losing an additional £94.80 as the lower rate is £23.70 per week.

Following this decision by her assessor, Carol now has to pay for the extra costs that accumulate from having her disabilities and may risk missing out on vital medical appointments if she is unable to travel.

On what happened next, the benefit claimant said: “I challenged this, as my medical records clearly show that my left hip is crumbled and misshapen and I am under the care of an orthopaedic surgeon.

“I was told that as I said my assistance dog gets items off low shelves in supermarkets, this was evidence that I can walk around a shop.

“I had explained that I cannot walk any steps at all without pain and that I’m dependent on disabled parking, but this was ignored. My assessor didn’t seem to think pain was a factor, despite me having a visible limp and explaining how walking really takes its toll.

“My assessment report was wildly inaccurate and directly contradicted what had happened at the appointment. It felt like I was reading about someone else entirely.

“It was full of factual inaccuracies, such as stating I was on waiting lists that I’m not on and incorrect information about my medications.”

During the reassessment process, benefit claimants have the opportunity to challenge decisions made by the DWP through a process called ‘Mandatory Reconsideration’, however this also proved to be fruitless.

Carol added: “I challenged the report through the Mandatory Reconsideration process and pointed out in writing where the errors were but it made no difference.

“I didn’t go for a full appeal because I was exhausted after the process. I was so distressed by the whole reassessment experience and so angry and tired.

“I work, I have a home to keep, I just didn’t have the strength to take them on; it’s all too upsetting and exhausting.”

James Taylor, the Executive Director of strategy at disability Scope, outlined what is at stake for many claimants of PIP if they receive an unfair assessment procedure.

My Taylor said: “Disabled people must be able to get disability benefits without the fight. Disabled people are being systematically failed. The benefits system should work for disabled people, not against them.

“We’ve heard from huge numbers of disabled people who felt their assessors did not understand their condition or how it affects their life. The system is getting it wrong far too many times.

“It’s crucial that disabled people are assessed by someone who understands them, so they can access the right financial support the first time around. Why would you have a physiotherapist assessing someone who has a mental health condition?

“An assessor with specialist knowledge will be able to understand the true impact of someone’s condition and how it might fluctuate, as well as giving disabled people confidence they will get a fair assessment and the right decision first time round.”

Those looking to make an application for PIP can do so via the Government’s website or by contacting their local DWP office.

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