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Latest survey results
Last May, we published two article on What PIP telephone assessments are really like and What PIP telephone assessments are really like, part two.

The articles were based on over 250 responses to our survey on the subject, which is still open. They found widespread evidence of unfair and unlawful practices.

We left the survey open and we have now assessed 392 additional responses received between June and the beginning of November.

What they show is that whilst some aspects of telephone assessments have improved, others have grown worse and, most worryingly, the horror stories about things that should never occur at all have continued.

Breaches of confidentiality
It’s something that should never happen at all.

Yet a shocking 12% of our respondents said that the assessor had problems with having a quiet, confidential place to call from. And some of the things people experienced were both a gross breach of data protection laws and deeply distressing. Below are some of the incidents our respondents told us about

There was a trainee listening in and she had two people walk through the room sniggering at bowel and bladder questions

I heard sniggering and muffled laughter and a mobile phone ring which was answered and not by the interviewer

I repeatedly heard noises in the background, which I enquired about because it was distracting me from answering properly. I was told that it was just background noise because the female assessor was working from home. Later on in the call, after having to give humiliating answers about myself and my disabilities/illnesses, I heard a man's voice and then shortly after I heard a small excitable child's voice! I felt beyond humiliated! . Even if she was using a headset, she still repeated what I'd just said so my business was broadcast regardless and that's not on!! I couldn't wait to get off the phone and cried my eyes out afterwards. I feel sick and personally and emotionally violated

I could hear other people in the background and at more than one point the assessor spoke to another person whilst interviewing me. I worried about my privacy and personal information being shared.

I could hear people talking in the background

They were walking about trying to get a better signal and was also heard on one occasion talking to someone else

Child/children interrupted, so assessment was not entirely confidential, I felt.

Children playing in the background, which the assessor said was due to working at home.

Her son's phone rang during my assessment (ringtone was a duck quacking!) so I'm wondering whether she was on her own or with family.

In some cases the claimant was told that there was another person on the call, but this could also cause difficulties.

They said they was going to join the call with their clinical team. So not sure how many people were listening in which I felt very conscious of and embarrassed

I was told someone was listening in but not who. I was not advised I had the right to refuse this. My mobility was assessed OVER THE PHONE and resulted in no award - when I am riddled with osteoarthritis and due to have a knee replacement 9th November

There were 2 assessors! When one of them didn't like the way I answered questions he tried asking me hypothetical situations, which was stupid because those situations wouldn't happen.

Inappropriate questions
Some people were asked questions in such a way as to leave them feeling upset and even humiliated.

Was asked to make noises like I make while in pain, felt humiliated and degraded

Still trying to work out why assessor asked 'How often do you change your underwear'!

Many people believed the same questions were asked repeatedly to try to catch them out or push them into giving an answer that would give a false impression.

Felt like there were a lot of the same questions worded slightly different. That immediately set my paranoia off and I felt like they were trying to catch me out. The information page that specifically says, "We are not trying to catch you out" didn't alleviate these suspicions funnily enough...

He kept repeating questions he'd asked 10 or 15 minutes earlier. I kept saying: "My answer is the same as the answer I gave you before."

The form asks if you can make a simple meal. When I replied that I could not, he asked “So can you boil an egg then?” There were many more questions like this.

My condition means I cannot walk etc, I cannot get up without the aid of my husband. He has to prepare all meals because I am unable to do so. But they wanted to know, if my husband got the ready meal out of the fridge and gave it to me, if I sat next to the microwave, could I put it in the microwave. What sort of a trick question is that! It felt like a trap.

Assessor’s manner
The people skills of assessors seems to have deteriorated since our last survey. 11% found the assessor unfriendly, compared with 8% last time. Only 37% found them encouraging this time, compared with 47% last time.

For some respondents, the assessor was more like an interrogator in a court room.

Every single time my friend tried to answer relating to my mental health she was told to basically shut up but in a slightly politer way. This was yesterday and I am left all alone and feeling suicidal. Shame on DWP - an awful experience where I felt like I was on trial and condemned for being ill.

Very unpleasant, stressful experience, almost 2 hours of quick fire questioning and challenging my responses, no empathy or interest in listening to my explanations. When I said I didn’t understand the question he raised his voice and spoke slowly in an irritated manner, he also challenged me - telling me that two different conditions I suffer from were the same thing??? I was not feeling well and was exhausted and distressed at the end of this almost 2 hr interrogation - I felt utterly abused and felt I had done something untruthful or wrong, would not want to repeat it again, give me face to face anytime.

The assessor was relentless and the more I cried and became distressed he would just repeat "I have to do this, I have to ask these questions". No understanding a total indifference and when I talked about a low point in my life concerning my Mothers death he just said." I don't need the story" I've never got over my Mothers death due to the circumstances but today has really pushed me back and I feel lower than ever.

One claimant was told: You've got to calm down. We need to get this done!!! I'm just trying to do my job. We all have problems.

My son has many mental health problems. Has ME and is autistic. But he [the assessor] made silly jokes and seemed to be making fun out of things written in his autism report.

Overall, found it a very cold, hard hearted experience. He was clearly just 'going through the motions'. Kept repeating questions until he got an answer he was satisfied with. Was rather abrupt and short. I don't think I will get it to be honest. I am moving to PIP from a DLA lifetime award which angers me as a lifetime award is indefinite and should be honoured, irrespective of how many times they change their system.

Notice of a telephone assessment
The law says that you should receive seven days’ written notice of the date, time and place of your assessment.

Since May, the proportion of people getting no notice at all of an assessment has improved, down from 13% to 8%.

The percentage getting less than a week is much the same, up from 25% to 26%.

But this still means that one third of all our respondents did not receive the notice they are legally entitled to.

There’s been a small reduction in the proportion only getting notice by phone, down from 18% to 16%. Again, this is a breach of their legal right to written notice.

Respondents told us:

Text message sent, saying going to ring me, then rang straight away giving me no time to prepare

Just a 9am call out of the blue no notice at all.

The letter arrived on Saturday for assessment on Tuesday morning

Letter arrived Mon. Assessment on the Wednesday

More people said the call was not on time, up from 18% to 27%.

I received a phone call making an appointment for 1.30pm on Sunday. Then a letter confirming. Two days before the appointment I got a call saying it would be at 2.15pm. I got the call at 11.45am!

Rang 3 days before my scheduled appointment telling me assessor wasn't available on that day and had to have it done within 15 mins.

Changed the time of the call twice and then called over 2 hours early

Changed the assessor and time at the last minute and I was unable to have my wife with me.

In some cases the call just didn’t come at all.

I received my letter on Thursday 4th June, informing me of an appointment on Monday 8th June. I didn’t receive my call at the scheduled time, so called the help centre 10 minutes after my appointment should have started. The person I spoke to advised that I was called 3 times on Friday 5th June as a prep call but that I didn’t answer. There is no notification in the letter that this would take place and I explained that I don’t answer calls from unknown/withheld numbers unless I am expecting such a call and if they had informed me in the letter to expect a prep call, then I would have answered.

Appointment at 11.45am. Called capita at 12.05 an was told assessor had rang 3 times and no answer, no missed calls on my phone. I didn’t receive any and was told assessor no wrote no show, made complaint to customer services as to what happened and why recorded as a no show

They never called on the first two appointments made by them, they called on the third...stressful

Additional calls
As we discovered in May, people need to be aware that there may be more than one assessment call.

I had to have another one a week later as the assessor had missed loads out

My assessment was done wrong so I had to go through it all over again 2 weeks later with a different person. I was given 48hrs notice.

Had a follow up call out of the blue the next day asked me the same questions

Wasn't happy as sat and had phone call with support then ring back later and said had to re do it again as didn’t write report, putting me through more stress.

Length of calls
Calls are still long, with around half taking an hour or more. And technical problems were up from 18% to 23%.

First telephone call was just over 2 hours which was lost due to technical problems second call was 1 hour 49 minutes

I was assessed for 3 hours and the following day they called back and assessed for further 1 hour pretty sure not normal such long assessment.

It was over 2 hours and I said I was exhausted more than once. I had a migraine that was caused by the stress and strain and intensity of the call which lasted for 3 days after the call. I had to stay in bed and go to sleep after the call.

1 hour and 50 minutes. I got very tired. After an hour I said I was getting tired. He went on another 50 minutes.

The assessment took 2 long and gruelling hours. The assessor told me I was her last appointment of the day and that she would be taking her time even though my appointment was at 10.30 am

Volume was very low and I struggled to hear what was being said. I had phone on hands free and loudspeaker. The line also was breaking up on occasions, the assessor herself said she was moving about to get a signal. Obviously having some issues with hearing me too.

Poor reception. I am hard of hearing and had to say 'pardon?' quite a lot which made the assessor quite agitated.

Recording your assessment
Slightly fewer people recorder their call, down from 18% to 16%.

You now have the right to ask to have your assessment recorded by Capita or IAS, although you need to do this as soon as you can and also be aware that it may cause delays in getting your assessment.

Some people wrongly thought it was illegal to covertly record your call.

I wanted too but have seen the law you are not allowed too

i didn't know how to or if it was legal for me to.

We thought it was unlawful to do so

Some people asked if they were allowed to record the call and were refused permission.

I informed them I was going to record it. And they stated that they could not continue with the call if it was recorded. I had to go ahead without recording it.

I asked to record my assessment and the assessor snapped at me stating "It's not allowed, no no no!" so no, I did not record my call even though I wanted to.

Some respondents regretted not recording their call.

I wish I had. He said we told him my son can overcome all his difficulties and go on public transport alone. Public transport was not mentioned in any way. And my son has only left the house with me by car for medical appointments in the last 3 years

Didn't know I was allowed to although wish I did as the assessor lied throughout

I wish I had recorded the call. Some questions were very dubious. I’ve been advised to write them down as evidence

And some claimants told us that they did indeed record their call and even how they did it.

I had my phone on speaker and recorded it on a spare phone

Phone on speaker, recorded on laptop, I didn't tell him I was recording

So so so glad I did, it is a must to do this

It is clear that telephone assessments are going to be the norm for a long time yet, if not permanently.

It’s also clear that on some occasions at least, the process does not meet the standard that every claimant should have the right to expect.

As a result, we would advise you to strongly consider covertly recording your telephone assessment, as well as asking IAS or Capita to record it, just in case the official copy goes astray or turns out not to have worked.

And, if you have been given insufficient notice or treated rudely or unfairly, don’t hesitate to complain.

And please do complete our survey so that we can forewarn other claimants.

 

Back to PIP Claims Updates

 

Jump to current webinars list

Our new online webinars provide updates, information and tips on different welfare benefits. They are delivered live by our friendly and supportive staff and are designed to be informative and accessible, for you to take part and ask questions.

If you haven’t attended a webinar before it might seem confusing or daunting, so we hope the following instructions will make it easier.

How to register
Click on the link to the webinar you want to attend, fill in your first name and email address, and click ‘register now’.

All our upcoming webinars are listed on this page

Once you’ve registered
You will receive an email straight away with a link to view the webinar when it begins. You should also receive a reminder email 15 minutes before the webinar begins, but these do sometimes arrive late, so please don’t rely on it.

It is worth adding a link to your bookmarks or setting a reminder in your calendar if you are able to do this.

All our webinars are recorded, and we will email you a link to view the recording after.

How to join live
When the webinar is about to begin, all you need to do is click on the link you received in your registration or reminder email. This will take you to a webpage where you can watch the webinar.

Don’t forget to press the ‘play’ button to start the broadcast! If chat is turned on it’s easy to be distracted by the chat on the right hand side and not realise the webinar has begun.

If things go wrong
If you have problems seeing or hearing the webinar try pressing the ‘reconnect’ button at the top of the broadcast page.

If this doesn’t work, let us know via the chat panel, if it has been opened by our presenters. If there is a technical issue on our end, then other viewers will experience it too, and we will try to fix it.

How to watch the recording
Within 24 hours of the webinar finishing you should get an email with a link to watch the recording. Clicking on this link will take you to a webpage where you can watch the webinar.

FAQs

Who can join?
We currently deliver two kinds of webinar. Some are for claimants and carers and others are for professionals like support workers, welfare rights advisers and other workers. It will state clearly in the name of the webinar who it is for.

Our webinars for ‘claimants and carers’ are open to everybody. They are aimed at people who are on benefits and those who care for them. However, anybody who wants to find out more about benefits is welcome to join.

These webinars are designed to be friendly, accessible and informative for everyone.

Will I be visible?
No. Our webinars are set up so that only the presenters are visible. You will not be asked to turn on your webcam or microphone.

However, you will be able to type messages in to the chat panel. If you do, the presenters and other viewers will be able to see what you’ve written.

Is it anonymous?
Only your first name and email address will be sent to Benefits and Work when you register. You do not have to use your real name if you don’t want to.

If you type messages in the chat panel during the webinar, the presenters and other viewers will be able to see what you have written. The name that you provided will be displayed next to your message, but not your email address.

We ask that you do not to provide any information in the chat panel about anybody else that could be used to identify them.

Do I have to participate?
No. You do not have to participate if you don’t want to. You can simply watch the webinar live and only need to write in the chat panel if you’d like to ask questions or offer comments.

There will be other opportunities to participate if you want to, including live polls, and a survey at registration for you to ask questions in advance.

Will I be able to ask questions?
You will be able to ask questions at certain points during the webinar. We will prioritise questions that are directly about the content we are presenting. For example, if you didn’t understand something we said and you want us to clarify it.

We will also try to answer more general questions about the subject of the presentation, such as questions about the rules and procedures for the benefits we are discussing.

Unfortunately, we cannot answer specific questions about your benefit claim as we could only do this if we had all the details of your case, otherwise we could risk advising you wrongly. This would take much longer than the time we have in a webinar, and would compromise your privacy. For advice on specific questions about your benefit claim you need to contact an advice agency if at all possible.

Can I watch the replay if I miss the live broadcast?
Yes you can. You will automatically be sent a replay link by email within one day.

Can I give feedback?
Yes please! We always share a survey at the end of the webinar for you to complete. We really value your feedback as it can help us improve our webinars.

If you have any more queries please email us at tech@benefitsandwork.co.uk

 Current webinars

Claiming the PIP mobility component on mental health grounds 2pm on 20 July, 2020

Benefits and Work is running a free, members only, 2 hour webinar on ‘Claiming the PIP mobility component on mental health grounds’.

The webinar is at 2pm on 20 July, 2020.

It is suitable both for beginners and those who have some knowledge of the PIP mobility component.

You will learn how to fill in the ‘Going out’ page in the PIP2 form on mental health grounds, so that you give the most accurate and persuasive evidence possible and increase the chances of getting the correct award.

The webinar will include information on legal definitions and current case law to help you give effective evidence.

It will also draw on details gathered in our recent survey of over 1,000 people who claimed, or tried to claim, PIP mobility component on mental health grounds.

If you have already completed the claim pack, you can use the same information to improve the evidence you provide at mandatory reconsideration or appeal stage.

You can sign up for the webinar on this page You will need to be logged in and a current subscriber to follow the link.

 

Benefits and coronavirus updates

We are running free, 40 minute live webinars on PIP Coronavirus changes. The webinars will cover changes to PIP as a result of the current emergency. They include information on:

  • New claims
  • Reviews
  • Changes of circumstances
  • Telephone assessments
  • Challenges and appeals

Claimants and carers PIP webinar, 2pm on Friday 29 May

This webinar is open to all claimants and carers. It runs for 45 minutes, followed by a 15 minute Q&A session. Watch the recording here 

 

Professionals PIP webinar, 2pm on Friday 5 June

This webinar is aimed at staff who offer support with PIP in the course of their work. It runs for 45 minutes, followed by a 15 minute Q&A session. Registrations will only be accepted if you register using your work email address. You can post a question at the bottom of the registration page, though we can't guarantee to answer them all. The content is the same as the claimants and carers webinar, but the questions answered may be different.  You can watch a recording of the webinar here

 

 

Do you want us to run training in your location?

Would you like us to put on an open training day near you?

Fill in the form to below to let us know. It doesn’t commit you to anything at all. But if we get enough people asking for training in your region then we will aim to put on a training day there and we’ll let you know about it. We’ll also tell you about any other training opportunities that might interest you.

 

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Last updated 9 December 2020  

The changes to benefits being made as a result of coronavirus are piecemeal and rapidly changing. Please check back to this page regularly for the latest updates. 

There is also a Benefits and Work members Coronavirus forum where you can post queries or information.

Unless stated otherwise these changes apply if you have been diagnosed with coronavirus or are self-isolating or caring for a child who has been diagnosed with coronavirus or is self-isolating.

The changes apply whether you are making a new claim or there is a review of your benefit.

We have now updated those of our members guides that have been most affected by the recent changes.  

There is important information and advice about coronavirus on the NHS website and information about the government's response to the coronavirus outbreak on the Gov UK website.

If you aren’t able to get to the Post Office to collect your benefits it is possible in certain circumstances to have the cash sent to your home. You need to have a Post Office Card Account and be shielding so that you are not able to leave your home to collect your benefits. Further details are available here

Personal independence payment (PIP)

Employment and support allowance (ESA)

Universal credit (UC)

Attendance allowance (AA) and disability living allowance (DLA)

Statutory sick pay

Carers Allowance (CA)

FAQs

 

  Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

On July 6th 2020 the DWP announced that there will continue to be no face-to-face assessments for PIP.  At the time of writing, November 3rd 2020, there is no information as to how long this will last for. The assessment provider that is due to carry out the assessment should contact you to tell you what will happen. The assessment will either be a paper based one, or carried out over the phone.

If you are making a fresh claim no award will be made without an assessment.

On June 3rd 2020 the Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, announced in Parliament that if you request a review because your needs have increased it will be passed onto the assessment provider. There will still either be a paper or phone assessment.  From March 24th 2020 to June 24th 2020 no reviews were carried out.

On 23 April 2020 the DWP announced that if your ‘disability benefit’ is due to expire in the next 3 months, until 23 July 2020,  it will automatically be extended for 6 months.  Although  they did not define ‘disability benefit’ it is reasonable to assume they meant PIP, DLA and AA. A DWP announcement on December 8th 2020 stated that everyone should receive a letter explaining the extension by ‘early 2021’

The time limit for returning the PIP2 form has been extended from a month to 90 days.  None the less it would  be best to return the form as soon as you can.

As a result of various legal decisions, the DWP had been carrying out reviews of various awards. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic these reviews had been suspended. These reviews concerned ‘managing medication and monitoring a health condition’, ‘psychological distress and journeys’, and ‘safety and supervision’. The DWP announced on August 3rd 2020 that these reviews would continue to be suspended until at least the end of September 2020.

At the time of writing, November 3rd 2020 there have been no further announcements concerning these reviews, but DWP Memo ADM 22/20 issued recently stated that reviews concerning PIP and the issue of Daily Living Activity 9, would begin. This was as a consequence of the decision in SSWP v MM [2019] UKCS 34. In summary this concerned two issues, what is the distinction between and meaning of ‘social support’ and ‘prompting’, and when does ‘social support’ have to be given.

  Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

When you claim you will be entitled from the first day of sickness i.e. there are no waiting days. On October 12th 2020 the DWP announced that this provision would be extended till May 12th 2021.On October 12th 2020 the DWP announced that this provision would be extended till May 12th 2021.

On July 6th 2020 the DWP announced that there will continue to be no face-to-face assessments for ESA. The assessment provider that is due to carry out the assessment should contact you to tell you what will happen next. The assessment will either be a paper based one, or carried out over the phone.

The DWP announced on November 4ere 2020 that from November 2nd 2020, if you didn’t attend your WCA phone assessment or were considered not to have taken part, then your ESA would be stopped. This would not apply if you could show ‘good cause’ for not having done so. If your WCA was prior to November 2nd 2020 then there had been no sanction for not taking part.

From 24 March 2020 for 3 months until 24 June 2020 no reviews were carried out for ESA. So, if your condition deteriorated and you were in the Work Related Activity Group and thought you should be in the Support Group, it was very important that you requested a review to ensure you received the maximum arrears when the situation returned to normal. At the time of writing, November 3rd 2020, there have been no further announcements regarding this, so it is still very important that you request a review as soon as possible, so as to receive the maximum amount of arrears.

The Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, announced in Parliament on June 3rd 2020 that in respect of new ESA claims, these will be passed onto the assessment provider. Any assessment will be either a paper or phone one. No information was provided in relation to a deterioration in your condition and any potential transfer to the Support Group. If this applies to you, request a review as soon as possible and if necessary, argue that it should be passed onto the assessment provider in the same way as for new claims.

When you claim you will be treated as having Limited Capability for Work (LCW). On October 12th 2020 the DWP announced that this provision would be extended to May 12th 2021.

The DWP announced on July 24th 2020 that all new claims for ESA will have to submit a fit note, commonly known as a sick note, and that this provision will apply to all claims submitted since July 10th 2020. For claims submitted prior to July 10th the DWP will write to you saying what date you need to provide a fit note from.

On September 28th 2020 the DWP issued guidance explaining that if you are claiming ESA on the grounds of self-isolating then once you have been off work for 7 or more days, you can obtain an isolation note online from NHS 111 in England. In Scotland from NHS inform, in Wales from NHS 111 Wales, and in Northern Ireland from your GP.

In you live in an area where there are local restrictions and need to shield, you should be issued with a letter from your GP or health authority.

In either case, you will be told where to send the evidence once you have claimed ESA.

  Universal Credit (UC)

If you were claiming on the grounds of sickness there were no face-to-face assessments, for a period of 3 months until 17 June 2020. The statement issued by the DWP on July 6th 2020 regarding face-to-face assessments for PIP and ESA (see above), made no mention of UC sickness assessments. Common sense would suggest that this was an oversight on the part of the DWP, and that there won’t be any face-to-face assessments for UC for the time being. The assessment provider that is due to carry out the assessment should contact you to tell you what will happen. The assessment will either be a paper based one, or carried out over the phone.

The DWP announced on November 4ere  2020 that from November 2nd 2020, if you didn’t attend your WCA phone assessment or were considered not to have taken part, then your UC would be reduced.  This would not apply if you could show ‘good cause’ for not having done so.   If your WCA was prior to November 2nd 2020 there had been no sanction if you didn’t take part.

From 24 March 2020 reviews have been suspended for a period of 3 months until 24 June 2020, in line with the changes to ESA outlined above. The Minimum Income Floor will be suspended. This is a measure that only applies to some self-employed UC claimants.

You will not be required to attend the Jobcentre for any appointments, and in particular you will not be required to attend to begin your claim.

The DWP announced on April 16th 2020 that you can verify your identity using either::
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/universal-credit-claimants-to-verify-identity-through-government-gateway
or
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/introducing-govuk-verify/introducing-govuk-verify

When you claim you will be treated as having LCW, you will not have to submit fit notes or undergo a WCA.

 

  Attendance Allowance (AA) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

Face-to-face assessments were suspended for a period of at least 3 months from 24 March 2020, until 24 June 2020. The statement by the DWP issued on July 6th 2020 regarding face-to-face assessments for PIP and ESA (see above) made no mention of AA or DLA assessments. Common sense would suggest that this was an oversight on the part of the DWP, and that won’t be any face-to-face assessments for AA and DLA for the time being.

From 16 April  2020 you will be entitled to SSP if you are at risk of Coronavirus as a result of an underlying health condition or you have been advised to follow shielding measures. This change is in addition to the one introduced on 13 March  2020 which treats you as entitled to SSP if you are self-isolating as a result of Coronavirus.

  Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

Some employees are entitled to this from their employer. Normally you cannot be paid for the first 4 days of sickness, known as ‘waiting days’. There will no longer be any waiting days.

From 16 April  2020 you will be entitled to SSP if you are at risk of Coronavirus as a result of an underlying health condition or you have been advised to follow shielding measures. This change is in addition to the one introduced on 13 March 2020 which treats you as entitled to SSP if you are self-isolating as a result of Coronavirus.

The DWP announced on 23 June 2020 that from 1 August 2020 you will no longer be automatically entitled to SSP if you are shielding. You may of course be entitled to SSP because you are too ill to return to work.

From 28 May 2020 you will also be treated as incapable of work for the purposes of SSP if you have had contact with a person who has been diagnosed with Coronavirus and you are having to self-isolate for 14 days.

From July 30th 2020 if you have tested positive for Coronavirus or h ave symptoms of Coronavirus, you will be entitled to SSP for the 10 days for which it is advised by Public Health England that you self-isolate.

   Carers allowance

Carers allowance will continue to be payable if there is a temporary break in providing care, due to either the carer or the person being cared for developing coronavirus or having to self-isolate because of coronavirus.

   FAQs

Below are some of the queries we have received on the forum or by email.  We have done our best to answer them, but bear in mind the situation is changing rapidly and it is worth checking this page regularly.

Assessments

Appeals

Debt recovery

DLA

ESA

UC

CA

  Assessments

Q. I have a face-to-face assessment appointment do I need to attend?
A. From 17 March 2020 all face-to-face appointments in relation to sickness and disability benefits were suspended. This applied for at least 3 months, until 17 June 2020, and covers appointments for Personal Independence Payment, Employment and Support Allowance, Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Universal Credit.

 A further statement from the DWP dated July 6th 2020 stated that there will not be any face-to-face assessments for the time being.

It also covers verification appointments for Universal Credit if you are claiming on the grounds of sickness.

Q. I'm waiting on an appointment, will I get one?
A. The suspension of face-to-face assessments does not mean that your claim will not progress. It has never been the case in law that you are required to have a face-to-face assessment in relation to your claim. The health care provider who is responsible for carrying out assessments in your area will decide whether to carry out a paper or phone assessment. If they carry out a phone assessment, they must give you 7 days’ notice of when they are going to phone you.

Q. Several people have been told by the assessment providers when they phone them that there is no intention to do phone assessments?
A. This is incorrect. The statements from the Department for Work and Pensions make it absolutely clear that carrying out phone assessments is one possibility.

Q My PIP award ends in x months what happens then?
A. The beginning of the process of claiming again has not changed. You will be written to and invited to make a new claim. You should do this, and complete the claim form ‘How Your Disability Affects You’. The health care provider will then carry out either a paper assessment or a phone one.  It is very important that you keep to the time limits for claiming and returning the form.
Payment of your current award will continue until a new decision is made on your claim.

Q. How long do I have to return the ‘How My Disability Affects You’ form, commonly known as a PIP2?
A. A message on the PIP inquiry phone line as of today, April 2nd 2020 , says the time limit for returning this has been extended from 4 weeks to 90 days. It says the 90 days starts from the date you received it. As PIP cannot not know what date you received the form, wWe think this should say 90 days from the date on the covering letter that came with it. This would fit with what the position is regarding the 4 weeks, which was counted from the date on the covering letter.

Q. I already have a PIP2 and have received a reminder letter saying I need to return it. What do I do?
A. The message says to ignore any reminder letters, you have 90 days from the date of the covering letter.

Q. I requested a review of my PIP in December 2019 before the process changed, and haven't heard anything. What will happen?
A. Your review will proceed as normal until PIP reach a stage of deciding whether to carry out an assessment. This cannot now be a face-to-face assessment, as there are no face-to-face assessments, it will either be done on the papers or a phone assessment.
Incidentally given the passage of time since you requested a review, you should chase up PIP.

Q. What do I need to provide for a paper assessment?
A. It is vitally important that you provide as much information as possible, as you will not have the opportunity to attend a face-to-face assessment. Examples of information you should think about including would be medical reports, care plans, statements from family and friends who know about your disability and how it affects you. Also details of changes in medication and treatment if this shows that your condition has worsened, or you have not responded positively to your previous medication or treatment.

Q. My condition has deteriorated and I think I am entitled to a higher rate of PIP. What should I do?
A. You should request a review as soon as possible, so that you are entitled to the maximum arrears in due course. It was announced to Parliament by the Minister for Disabled People on June 3rd 2020, that your review would be forwarded to the assessment provider.

Q. Can I be found Fit for Work (fail the Work Capability Assessment,) without having attended a face to face assessment?
A. Yes, the decision as to whether you are Fit for Work will be based on a paper or phone assessment. There is no requirement in law that says that the health care provider must carry out a face-to-face assessment, unless they are minded to award you 0 points, in which case they must carry out a face-to-face assessment.

Q. Will it take longer to assess claims if there are no face-to-face assessments?
A. No one knows what the impact will be. In theory if a significant number of paper assessments are carried out it could make the process quicker.

Q. What are the PIP phone numbers?
A. For new claims – 0800 917 2222, for everything else – 0800 121 4433.

  Appeals

Q. What about appeals?
A. All appeals will be dealt with initially on the papers if it is highly likely that the appeal will be decided in your favour. A provisional decision will be issued and if you and the DWP agree with it that will become the final decision. Otherwise a full hearing will take place which will be conducted either by phone or by video-link.

On September 16th 2020 the Tribunal Service announced that these provisions would be extended to March 18th 2021, unless it was decided that it was safe to withdraw them at an earlier date.

  Debt Recovery

On July 6th 2020 the DWP stated that they are going to begin recovering overpayments again. You will be notified by letter when recovery is to begin and the amount to be recovered. If you are receiving Universal Credit you will be notified via a journal entry. The DWP say that if you are suffering ‘real financial hardship’ you can request a deferral by phoning Debt Management on 0800 916 0647.

  DLA

Q. What happens to DLA awards if the procedure has not been carried out and my award is due to expire?
A. If you are migrating from DLA to PIP your DLA will carry on at its existing rate until a decision is made on your PIP claim.

Q. How long will these procedures last?
A. Initially these procedures were introduced for a period of 3 months which expired on June 17th 2020. At the time of writing, November 3rd 2020, they are still in place. There has been no announcement at to when they might end.

Q. I have an assessment for my child’s DLA. Will this go ahead?
A. There will be no fact-to-face assessments for a period of at least 3 months from 17 March 2020, until 17 June 2020. The health care provider will be in touch with you to arrange paper or telephone assessment.

  ESA

Q. I want to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Do I have to send in a sick note?
A. The DWP announced on July 24th 2020 that all new claims for ESA will have to submit a fit note, and that this provision will apply to all claims submitted since July 10th 2020. For claims submitted prior to July 10th 2020 the DWP will write to you explaining the date from which you need to provide a sick note.

Q. I have claimed ESA, what will happen with my claim?
A. The Minister for Disabled People announced to Parliament on 3 June 2020 that your claim will be forwarded to the assessment provider in the normal way. Any assessment will be either a paper or phone one.

Q. Are there any waiting days for ESA?
A. No, not if have been diagnosed with coronavirus or are self-isolating or are caring for a child or young person who falls into either of those two categories. You will be paid from the first day of your sickness.

Q. Are there are any waiting days for Statutory Sick Pay?
A. No, not if you have been diagnosed with coronavirus or are self-isolating or are caring for a child or young person who falls into either of those two categories.

 Q. I am claiming ESA and are in the Work-Related Activity Group. I think I should be in the Support Group. What do I do?
A. You should not delay requesting a review. This is so that you receive the maximum amount of arrears.  On 3 June 2020 the Minister for Disabled People announced to Parliament that new ESA claims will be passed onto the assessment provider to be processed. You should argue that the same should apply if you have requested a review to be placed in the Support Group.

Q. I have been receiving Contributory ESA (CESA) for 10 months, and so it is due to end in 2 months’ time. What will happen?
A. You should request a review arguing that you should be in the Support Group, and then your CESA is not limited to 12 months.

Q. I have received a letter saying that I have a WCA over the phone. What will happen if I don’t take part?
A. Unless you have ‘good cause’ for not taking part, your ESA will be stopped. This will also apply of you have a WCA for UC, except the punishment will be a reduction in your UC.

  Universal Credit

Q. Are the Universal Credit rates changing for 2020/21?
A. The personal allowance, that is the basic amount depending on whether you are under or over 25 and single or a couple, has been increased by £1,040 for the financial year 2020/21. The equivalent for Tax Credits is £1,045.

Q. I receive transitional protection with my Universal Credit, because the amount of my Universal Credit is lower than my legacy benefits. Does this increase mean I will get more transitional protection?
A. No, the increase isn’t used in your transitional protection calculation. Your transitional protection will remain at the same rate.

  Carers Allowance

Q. I receive Carers Allowance and can’t care for the disabled person because of Coronavirus. What will happen to my Carers Allowance?
A. The law was amended from 30 March 2020 so that if you either have Coronavirus or you are self-isolating you will remain entitled to Carers Allowance. The definition of caring for the purposes of Carers Allowance has been expanded to include emotional caring.

 

 

Thank you to all

 

“at last my very long journey( nearly 2 years) through the pip process came to an end with a victory… standard rate for 3 years, was in shock when reading it now back down to earth”