PIP Review success
“i sent my pip review in dec after asking for advice on here on how to fill it in.you advised to treat it almost as a full application. i have been awarded high daily care plus high mobility(previously high and standard) until 2027. its such a relief. thank you all so much for the help and support its truly appreciated. stay safe”


Dear Reader,

In this newsletter, we applaud the claimant who successfully sued Atos for £2,500 for their inaccurate PIP assessment - and then sent the bailiffs in when they didn’t cough-up.

We warn that the option to carry out video assessments for PIP and ESA has now been enshrined in law.

We reveal that a trial of integrated PIP/ESA/UC assessments is about to resume.

We discover that PIP claimants have so far received just £32 million in back-payments because the DWP got the law wrong, even though the DWP originally said the cost would be £3.7 billion.

We learn that, sadly, the Errol Graham case has failed in the High Court.

We ask you to take part in our PIP Aids and Appliances survey.

And, finally, we invite professional subscribers to book a place on our new Mental Health Awareness zoom training and get an Early Bird discount.

A claimant has successfully sued Atos for negligence and failure of duty of care and then sent in the bailiffs when they failed to pay up.

Rebecca has epilepsy, a heart condition, anxiety, depression and memory problems.

Despite this, and the fact that she was receiving the enhanced daily living component, she received zero points for daily living following her PIP assessment.

Fortunately, Rebecca had recorded her assessment.

The recording was listened to by an appeal panel, who compared it to the assessor’s account of what had been said.

The panel then found in Rebecca’s favour, restoring her entitlement to the enhanced rate of the PIP daily living component until 2023.

Rebecca was so angry at the treatment she had received from Atos that she sued them through the County Court for ‘mental distress, anxiety and hardship’. Atos made no attempt to defend the claim.

The County Court found in Rebecca’s favour and awarded her compensation of £2,500.

When Atos failed to pay up, Rebecca arranged for enforcement officers to visit their offices in London, resulting in an extra £2,000 in costs to the company, which finally had to pay up.

We know we will be speaking for many claimants when we say that we have nothing but admiration for Rebecca’s courage and her refusal to be bullied or ignored, even when coping with so many health conditions.

The government has passed legislation allowing the DWP to require a PIP or ESA claimant to take part in an assessment by telephone or by video, as alternatives to a face-to-face assessment.

The new regulations, came into force on 25 March and enshrine all three options in law.

In the case of PIP, the regulations already stipulated that an assessment could be in person or by telephone, but the words ‘or by video’ have now been added.

In the case of ESA and UC, the regulations only stipulated that a claimant may be called to ‘attend for a medical examination’. The words ‘in person, by telephone or by video’ have been added.

So far, video assessments are still at the trial stage, but they are already a source of concern for many claimants who worry about the data protection and privacy issues.

We would be very interested to hear from anyone who has been invited to have one.

The DWP is to resume trials of an integrated assessment for PIP/ESA/UC in April.

The idea is not to have a single test for both benefits, but a single assessment at which the evidence needed both for PIP and a WCA will be collected.

The DWP originally announced plans for an integrated assessment system back in March 2019.

Two years later, it seems that virtually no progress has been made.

The DWP say they had “started to test a single digital platform in a small number of assessment centres but this was paused due to the impact of COVID-19”.

The work will now go ahead within the Departmental Transformational Area (DTA). This is an area where new processes can be tested on claimants before being rolled-out across the country.

The first DTA is at an undisclosed site in London and work will begin in April of this year.

While the idea of reducing the number of assessments claimants have to attend is a welcome one, the possibility of losing both benefits at once because of a rushed or incompetent assessment is a very alarming one.

Please let us know if you are invited to a combined assessment.

The DWP has paid out £32 million so far to PIP claimants who lost out because of legal errors by the department, according to an update released last week. Yet the DWP originally claimed the cost would be £3.7 billion

The DWP is still trawling through millions of claims looking for people owed money after it lost two landmark legal cases.

In a decision known as MH, it was found that the DWP had been misapplying the law in relation to psychological distress and following the route of a journey.

In RJ, the DWP was found to have got the law wrong in relation to safety and supervision.

The latest figures show that, since June 2018, around 890,000 cases have been looked at in relation to the MH decision and around 990,000 in relation to the RJ decision.

Approximately 6,600 payments have been made so far, amounting to £32 million.

Of this, £18 million has been paid in relation to MH and £14 million relating to RJ.

It’s worth noting that when the government tried to change the law in 2017, in order to get round the MH ruling, the DWP issued a press release claiming that failure to change the law back would lead to an extra £3.7 billion being spent on PIP by 2022.

The attempt to change the law failed, and yet they have paid out just £18 million in relation to MH.

So, were they lying in 2017?

Or are many thousands of claimants not getting the back payments they are entitled to?

The High Court has rejected the claim by relatives of Errol Graham, who starved to death after his benefits were stopped, that the DWP’s safeguarding policies are unlawful.

Errol Graham was 57 when he starved to death in June 2018. His ESA and housing benefit were stopped after he failed to attend a work capability assessment.

This was done without checking on his mental or physical wellbeing, even though he was known to have serious mental health issues.

In the High Court, Errol Graham’s family argued that even though the DWP had very recently introduced new safeguarding policies, they were still unlawful.

This is because the burden of proof for showing good cause for failing to attend an assessment is still placed on the claimant, even though their mental health may prevent them from meeting such a requirement.

However, the judge held that with 1.9 million ESA claimants, the system would be unworkable if the burden of proof were placed on the DWP.

Errol’s family say they are shocked by the ruling and may now appeal further. His son’s fiancée said:

"The fight's not over. If the law can put people like Errol in this position, then I need to ask - should I challenge the law?

"We need a change that will protect people like Errol and this judgement is not good enough."

We’re trying to find out about less common aids or appliances you use in connection with PIP activities, in order to improve our guides and training materials.

We probably know most of the more usual ones, like a kettle tipper, raised toilet seat or zip puller. But do you use something we might not have come across?

Or do you use an everyday item in an unusual way as an aid?

We’d like to know more.

We also want to learn about ways in which the DWP try to take points off you by saying you could use an aid or appliance you don’t actually use.

We have created a very quick survey, there’s just 4 questions and you don't need to answer them all.

You can start the survey here.

'I thoroughly enjoyed the course, Laura is an excellent trainer, she kept it interesting all the way through, she is very approachable which makes it easier to participate.'

'I thought it was an excellent course, it has made me more aware of my own mental health and importance of self-care as well as helped me to understand better the challenges our clients face.'

'The instructor made the course understandable. Made me aware that I am not the only one concerned in triggering further issues with clients by the way I handle the case. Thank you for helping to allay my fears and making me more confident to help those who need it.'

As we, hopefully, begin to emerge from lockdown, it has seldom been more vital to be aware of your own mental health and that of your colleagues and clients.

To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, Benefits and Work is running a 4 hour Zoom Mental Health Awareness training day.

Full of useful hints and tips, the course will give you the confidence to support someone in distress and is an ideal starting point for raising mental health awareness in your organisation.

The trainer, Laura Morrell, has more than 25 years’ experience working within the advice sector, including 13 years as a welfare benefits caseworker.

Laura is a National trainer for many leading organisations in the advice sector and is a qualified Mental Health First Aid Instructor and Education and Learning practitioner.

Further details, £15 early bird discount and booking from this page.

Good Luck,

Steve Donnison

Give yourself the best possible chance of getting the right PIP, UC or ESA decision, whether you’re making a claim, renewing an existing award or asking for a reconsideration or appeal.

Subscribe now and get instant access to all our guides.

If you’re not already a member, join the Benefits and Work community before midnight on Friday and you can get 20% off the cost of your annual subscription.

Just type the following code into the coupon box when you pay: 47728

Claimants and carers get an annual subscription for £15.96, down from £19.95. Professionals get an annual subscription for £77.60, down from £97.00.
Offer ends midnight Friday

Video PIP and ESA assessments now enshrined in law

Errol Graham case fails

Telephone and video PIP and ESA assessments now enshrined in law

Claimant successfully sues Atos and sends in the bailiffs when they don’t pay up

No joy for claimants in budget

PIP aids and appliances survey

DWP has paid out £32 million to claimants so far for PIP errors

Integrated PIP/ESA/UC assessment trials to resume

Many thanks to everyone who takes the trouble to post in the forum or email us with news of your success. We know it’s many readers favourite, and most encouraging, bit of the newsletter. For some people, it’s the only thing that keeps them going through a difficult claim or appeal.

PIP Review – success!
“I received a lumpsum in my bank today from PIP. I sent off my review mid January with accompanying documental evidence - I hadn’t heard anything. Called PIP and after 2 failed attempts, got through. I’ve been awarded enhanced daily living & mobility from standard daily living until 2025! I wish to thank B&W, their extensive guides and information provided on forum - Best £20’s I ever spent. Keep up the good work!”

Thank you PIP success
“I want to say a huge thank you for your help & advice! I’ve recently appealed and been awarded PIP enhanced for Mobility and Personal care, after using your guides to help me. I suffer from Chronic Hemiplegic Migraine and had to leave my teaching job and this is a huge relief to us! Thank you”

Thank you
“Just wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone for this fantastic site. I was receiving the standard rate for care but my condition has worsened so I put a change of circumstances claim in back in September.. I heard nothing at all until 5th February when a hcp called me out of the blue and asked could she ask me a couple of questions. I was a bit wary at first as I had had no notice but she was very nice so I answered the questions. She was on the phone no longer than 5 minutes.
3 weeks later I got the brown envelope... I have been awarded enhanced for both elements ongoing!! They will review after February 2031. I used your guides to help me fill the form and along with the supporting letter from my gp it was enough. I am so thankful for all the hard work that you all put in and all I can say is that the £19.95 I paid to join is the best money I have ever spent.”

Thank you
“I would like to thank everyone who contribute to this site. I have successfully won my daughters application to PIP she was awarded enhanced on both elements after MR and having just being awarded enhanced daily living we put in for a tribunal for Mobility. The DWP overturned their decision within a month of the unfavourable decision. Our evidence was over whelming with witness statements and diaries. The tricks they tried using was that my daughter used to be able to do this action or that action. We pointed out we weren't making a claim for then but now!”

PIP Renewal success!
“PIP review was due March 2021. Received the 'year's extension' letter a few months ago. DWP then sent me a PIP paper review form end of December, 2020. Returned review form on 22nd January and got the decision letter today, so was quite a quick process. Awarded enhanced rate of both care and mobility for 5 years. (Was previously standard rate care and enhanced mobility). I can't tell you the relief when I opened the letter. I had been concerned that the lack of a face to face review might negatively impact my award. Huge thanks to all at Benefits and Work, as the PIP guides really helped me in completing the review form. There is information contained in the guides that you just wouldn't think of including otherwise, yet which can make the difference between success and failure. THANK YOU!!!”

I can’t tell you how wonderful your site is
I can’t tell you how wonderful your site is - thank you so much for all of your invaluable support and guidance. It has taken over 4 years to get the PIP award we deserved. At first, we scored no points and had no fight to continue but two years later, my husband had a diagnosis of CFS and back problems as well as his severe anxiety and depression and we decided to apply again. After a home assessment in February 2020, we received the news that he had been awarded the standard rate mobility. We went through the mandatory reconsideration process only to find that they upheld their original decision. We gathered our strength for an appeal and when the DWP were due to respond, we received a phone call telling us that they’d reviewed his case and were now able to award him two further points, which then meant that he could receive standard rate daily living. We decided to accept this but told the DWP that we would launch a new appeal. Well after 65 weeks since our second application, we had a telephone appeal hearing. The panel could not have been kinder. Just eight days later we received the wonderful news that my husband has been awarded the enhanced rate for both daily living and mobility. We can’t believe it and are so delighted!!! . . . Finally, keep supporting the Benefits and Work community - they are really the best source of information and support available to you!!

Give yourself the best possible chance of getting the right PIP, UC or ESA decision, whether you’re making a claim, renewing an existing award or asking for a reconsideration or appeal.

Subscribe now and get instant access to all our guides.

If you’re not already a member, join the Benefits and Work community before midnight on Friday and you can get 20% off the cost of your annual subscription.

Just type the following code into the coupon box when you pay: 47728

Claimants and carers get an annual subscription for £15.96, down from £19.95. Professionals get an annual subscription for £77.60, down from £97.00.
Offer ends midnight Friday

Good luck,

The Office Team
Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
Company registration No. 5962666


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    Sheila Keane · 5 months ago
    My heart goes out to the family of Errol Graham.  When I had to attend a Work Capability Assessment it was cancelled by the assessment center 3 times!  On each occasion this was because the DWP had failed to supply the assessment center with my details.  Each time I was contacted by the assessment Centre the day before the assessment was due and told that my appointment was cancelled, but I was also told it was my responsibility to inform the DWP.  I still had to go through the process of explaining to the DWP why I had not attended the appointment and wait to see if they accepted my explanation.  So the burden of proof is on the claimant to inform the DWP of its own actions or inaction in this case.  You could not make it up.   I cannot begin to tell you the detrimental effect this had on my mental health.  This went on for nearly 9 months, it was torture.  The whole system is cruel and pernicious and should be done away with completely.  This judgement in Errol Graham’s case is so cowardly.  How can it be justified that a man with recognised serious mental health difficulties, who has his benefits stopped so that he starves to death, yet the onus be placed on him to explain himself.  The question surely is,  why is this system applied to people with mental health conditions when its procedures are the very thing people with mental health conditions cannot deal with.  It is like insisting that a paraplegic has to get up and run a race.  The injustice of this fills me with rage and anguish.  I am so sad for Errol Graham, he deserved so much more than this.
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