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Membership worth it -- won appeal and backpayments 4 years 4 months ago #154927
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I have been lurking here for a while now as a paid member, having read many success stories, as well as reading through all the supplied materials and guides. Today, I have a letter in hand from DWP stating that they will be depositing back payments due after successful Tribunal appeal at the end of this month! So, I wanted to relate how my DLA to PIP transition, Mandatory Reconsideration, and Tribunal Appeal occurred, for benefit of other lurkers like myself.
Originally, my DLA to PIP application appeared to go smoothly. I had read about all the awful experiences both here and on other forums. I thought myself fortunate to be in the Midlands where it is Capita doing the assessments and that part went well, thanks to extensive preparation and having a health care associate of my own here at home with me who was happy to take verbatim notes and transcribe the entire session for me. DWP then awarded the full 12 points for mobility, but downgraded my daily living component to 11 points, one point shy of the required 12 for the enhanced rate. This represented over £100 per month in benefit income. Next step, Mandatory Reconsideration... [By the way, I kept a diary of each step, each postal contact, every telephone call with the name of the person with whom I spoke, the date and time, any decisions or agreements made, and any next steps agreed. This is, I believe, absolutely *crucial* when it comes to winning your appeal, as will be come apparent further on. The court takes what is called "contemporaneous notes" into consideration, so be sure to make them in detail as you go!]
I telephoned DWP to request a mandatory reconsideration and was told I would be contacted within 10 days (and made a note of this in my claim diary). I typed up my arguments for each criteria and including a few sentences questioning the ability of the assessor to be an expert in all the the required areas of assessment. While the deadline came and went without the callback, however, I was feeling especially ill and wasn't in any condition to fight the good fight...
However, to my surprise, about a week past the deadline when I was feeling better and about to call DWP to complain about not receiving the promised callback, the DWP did call me! I mentioned the deadline, so DWP agreed to waive the deadline (as it was their bad) and we discussed the reconsideration criteria. (I can type at the speed of conversational speech, so took verbatim notes of the call for my claim diary.) DWP agreed to send me a copy of the assessor's report (which I should have asked for immediately after the assessment, to help me with the reconsideration, lesson learned). DWP also agreed to fast-track the reconsideration and would let me know within the next 10 days of their decision. I made sure I noted the date, time, and name of the person with whom I spoke... Good thing I did!
When I finally received the MR letter, the decision came back exactly the same as it had been before, as though the telephone conversation had never taken place (or more likely, as though they totally ignored everything we had discussed). I had the copy of the assessor's report in hand and a copy of the Mandatory Reconsideration letter, though, so I had evidence that the conversation had indeed taken place. Next step, appeal!
I downloaded all the materials from the Tribunal and filled everything out in detail. When it came to grounds for appeal, I summarized my preparatory notes and the conversation from the reconsideration callback and sent it off just after Christmas. Due to the Christmas postal traffic, it arrived a day late, but the DWP did not dispute the date, so the appeal went forward. They took their time with their response, and basically, they simply re-iterated the original information again, with one very interesting update. DWP claimed they had no information about any MR conversation, implying it had never taken place, so they could not comment on the notes I had provided!
This, I think, was one of the key points the Tribunal took into account. How in the world can the DWP not have a record of this conversation? First, they record *all* calls -- don't be fooled by the legalise at the beginning saying, This phone call may be recorded... They record absolutely everything, for legal reasons, even though we are not allowed to do the same. They are also supposed to transcribe said conversations whenever the court asks them for a copy. Here, they claimed they could not do so, because they could not find any notes that such a conversation had taken place, nor could they find any recording during that time period. Clearly, they were trying to muddy the waters, as I obviously had made a few important points during that conversation.
Luckily, as I mentioned earlier, I had a clear contemporaneous record of the date, time, name, length of the conversation, and verbatim notes of what had been discussed. When this DWP appeal response came back, I rebutted with the entire date/timestamped transcript, including the name of the DWP person. I also made the point in my cover letter that the conversation obviously had taken place, as the assessor's report promised had been sent to me within days, and I sent them a copy of that with its cover letter as well. Plus, the absolute clincher on this was, the MR deadline had been waived, so how did that happen if the conversation had not taken place?!
I got a confirmation letter from HMCTS letting me know they had received this information and had forwarded it to the DWP for its consideration. As I had asked for decision on "the letters" I did not have to appear; the appeal would go ahead and I would receive a decision within a few weeks.
DWP let it go to the wire without responding, so I finally received the HMCTS decision at the very end of the appeal period. They had decided in my favour and awarded me 13 points, one more than was required to award me the Enhanced Rate for the daily living component. I had won and also been awarded full back payments!! HMCTS had sent this information to the DWP, so I waited for the DWP to send me the new entitlement paperwork.
The 4-weekly payment date came and went, and as per what I had read, the payment was not forthcoming immediately. DWP hadn't even instituted the ER payment, never mind the back payment. About a week after, I received the annual review letter saying my PIP award remained unchanged (at the old rate). So, I called the DWP to confirm that they had the HMCTS decision in hand. They confirmed that they did and that they were catching up as the annual review had just occurred (yep, I knew that!).
That was last week. Today, I have my new entitlement paperwork, agreeing full back payment by the end of this month (mid-pay-cycle even!!) Perhaps the phone call gave someone a nudge?!
Anyway, we can now breathe easy for another 3 years, as my award is good through October 2020. No, I didn't mis-count. The review starts almost a full year *prior* to the end of this award, so I will be receiving new paperwork in October 2019! And when I do, you can be sure I will still be a member of Benefits and Work, supporting their efforts and looking into what new hoops we have to negotiate to get the benefits to which we are entitled.
Thank you, Benefits and Work, for being here when we needed you! And thank you to all the people on the forum who have shared their experiences. It has been such a huge help. Never give up!
Membership worth it -- won appeal and backpayments 4 years 4 months ago #154936
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That's great news Mrs_MG!
Thank you for taking so much time to relate your experiences - and thank you for your kind words about B+W
Nothing on this board constitutes legal advice - always consult a professional about specific problems
Membership worth it -- won appeal and backpayments 4 years 4 months ago #154948
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Thank you Mrs_MG Your post contains some very useful examples of just how the DWP operate and how we as claimants can help protect ourselves from their mismanagement.
A great post!
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