DLA to PIP – Tribunal success
“I got my letter to apply for pip after receiving DLA on an indefinite award. I was incredibly anxious about the whole process and very worried that I could lose my motability component. This would have resulted in me losing my independence. I started the process in September and found the benefits and work site to be absolutely invaluable. The advice in the guides helped me to feel more reassured and really made the whole process so much easier. Thank you so much for all the time and effort that has been put into the website. I am over the moon with my result of enhanced rate for both components. Thank you.”


Dear Reader,

In this edition we learn about the scandalously small amount of money the DWP spend on mandatory reconsiderations and appeals and why they are happy to go on losing the majority of PIP and ESA appeals.

We discover that up to 60% of PIP assessment reports created by Capita health professionals have been found to be unacceptable, but they are still used to make decisions on people’s benefits.

We ponder about how it is possible to be moved to tears by the plight of claimants, whilst still voting to cut their benefits.

There’s also the forum Christmas closure dates, a reminder that this will be the last coupon until 17 January and our very best wishes for your Christmas and New Year.

People sometimes argue that it must cost the DWP more to go through the mandatory reconsideration and appeal process than it would to pay benefits in the first place.

But tucked away at the back of a document published by the DWP this month are the average costs for PIP and ESA challenges.

It turns out the DWP can knock out a reconsideration decision for under £40 and an appeal can be done for under £100.

That kind of money would pay for very little time for a case manager to actually spend reading through the documents and properly considering the issue for a reconsideration.

It certainly wouldn’t pay for additional evidence.

More likely it’s enough for a very quick flick through the papers, maybe a phone call and then cutting and pasting some standard phrases refusing to change the decision.

And for an appeal, which might run to over 100 pages of documents, £100 isn’t going to pay for more than the time needed to collate the paperwork and send it to the Tribunals Service.

Which explains why Sir Ernest Ryder, senior president of tribunals, recently told a gathering of barristers that most of the decisions that the DWP tries to defend at tribunals are so bad that they have no case at all and cannot hope to win.

But if Sir Ernest Ryder is bemused by the number of hopeless cases that the DWP allow to go to appeal, these figures should make the reason clear.

Because first the DWP refuse benefits to hundreds of thousands of people who are actually entitled to them.

Then they make all those who challenge the decision go though a dispiriting and generally hopeless reconsideration process, which costs the DWP very little

The DWP know from experience that the vast majority of claimants will be physically or emotionally unable to pursue their case all the way to a tribunal and will give up as soon as they realise that their mandatory reconsideration has been unsuccessful.

Others will drop out during the appeal process itself.

A small number will make it all the way to the appeal hearing and, in the majority of cases, leave the DWP unable to defend a clearly unjust decision.

But the DWP will regard that as a tiny price to pay compared to the hundreds of millions saved by making unjust decisions and then forcing people to go through the cut-price mandatory reconsideration process.

The real price for the taxpayer is very much higher, of course.

There is the cost of the panel members, the venue, travelling expenses, photocopying, postage and more.

But as long as the DWP aren’t picking up the tab, why would they care?

One of the reasons so may people don’t get the benefits they are entitled to is the abysmal quality of the face-to-face assessment reports for PIP and ESA.

Even so, many people will be shocked to learn that almost 60% of Capita assessment reports for PIP were found to be unacceptable at one time and no ESA or PIP provider has ever met their target for the proportion of acceptable reports.

The figures, revealed in the same document that disclosed the cost of appeals above, show that in February 2015 56.1% of Capita reports were considered to be of such poor standard that they were classed as unacceptable.

This did not, it should be noted, prevent them from still being used to decide entitlement to PIP.

In February 2016 the proportion of unacceptable reports still stood at 30.4%.

However, in March 2016 the DWP changed the way that reports were assessed and Capita’s performance suddenly improved so much that the percentage of unacceptable reports fell to 15.8% overnight.

Atos, or IAS as they now prefer to be known, have never plumbed quite the same depths as Capita.

But in June 2014 29.1% of their PIP assessment reports were deemed unacceptable.

This has now fallen to 6.2%.

The contract with the DWP requires that no more than 3% of PIP assessment reports are judged to be unacceptable. This has never been achieved.

Unacceptable reports for ESA are generally at a much lower level. Maximus, or CHDA as they prefer to be called, recorded an unacceptable level of 10.3% in May 2015.

This had fallen to 7.9% by October 2017.

However, the target for ESA reports is that no more than 5% should be found to be unacceptable. Again it is a target that has never been met.

Yet these same unacceptable reports are still being used to make decisions on PIP and ESA entitlement.

It isn’t just unfair decision making that is forcing claimants into poverty.

It’s also the seemingly endless series of freezes and cuts to benefits.

Frank Field, chair of the work and pensions select committee spoke movingly last week about the cumulative effect on families of a succession of benefits cuts followed by being forced onto universal credit.

He talked about trying to persuade a claimant not to ‘top themselves’ because of the hopelessness of their situation.

He also talked about a family who last year had given toys to the MPs Christmas hamper’s project but have “so been reduced in circumstances that this year their little boy cries with hunger”.

Conservative MP Heidi Allen, who also sits on the work and pensions committee, wept after listening to Frank Field speak

A tearful Allen told MPs that no benefits system was perfect but vowed that “By god we work together to make this better”.

Which makes it all the more confusing that Allen’s voting record on theyworkforyou.com shows that Allen has almost always voted with the government and in favour of cuts to benefits.

Allen voted in favour of freezing working age benefits and for cuts in housing benefit, tax credits, universal credit and ESA.

The very succession of benefits cuts that Field was talking about.

We have no doubt that Allen’s tears are genuine, but so too is our utter bewilderment that she can vote as she does and still shed them.

The forum will close on the evening of Friday 22 December and reopen on the afternoon of Tuesday 2 January.

As always, an enormous thanks to our moderators and particularly to Gordon, who has been working on his own lately. Members’ feedback makes it very clear that the support and encouragement they receive from the forum makes a dramatic difference.

If anyone wants to make a New Year’s resolution to get involved with helping on the forum, we’d be very happy to hear from you.

The next newsletter is due out on 17 January. So this will be the final money-off coupon for just over a month.

We are living in turbulent times, with a future that looks less certain than it has for decades.

We can only hope that as a result, rather than continually vilifying claimants, in the coming year more people start to realise the importance of having a safety net in place.

Just in case their own fortunes take a turn for the worse.

In the meantime, we’d like to wish all our readers a happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison & the Benefits and Work Team

Successful PIP tribunal
“We have just returned from my Husbands Tribunal. The panel took 2 minutes to reinstate his PIP award. They told us that they could see from the letters and evidence provided that the original decision and the following Mandatory Reconsideration were flawed. . . Many thanks to Benefits and Work for their websites' invaluable help and I would advise anyone (who has the equipment and is capable) to record any interview by these so called Health Professionals.”

Got full PIP
“Just to say thank you to everyone here, your information is soooo useful and helpful, and so is the forum. Don't think I'd have survived the interminably long process without you.”

Give yourself the best possible chance of getting the right ESA, PIP or DLA 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: 67349

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.

Tory MP weeps at description of plight of claimants
Conservative MP Heidi Allen wept in a Commons debate after listening to Frank Field speak about the plight of universal credit claimants.

DWP tried to con PIP inquiry
The DWP have attempted to mislead the work and pensions select committee over the accuracy of PIP and ESA decisions.

Almost 60% of PIP assessment reports found to be unacceptable
Nearly 60% of Capita assessment reports for PIP fell below acceptable standards at one time and no ESA or PIP provider has ever met their target for the proportion of acceptable reports, according to a DWP document.

Why the DWP is happy to lose so many cut-price PIP and ESA appeals
A briefing document prepared by the DWP for work and pensions select committee reveals the scandalously small amount of money the DWP spends on carrying out mandatory reconsiderations and preparing appeals.

Benefits and Work guides coversAs always, many thanks to everyone who takes the trouble to post in the forum or email us with news of your success. (Names have been changed where we received feedback by email). We know it’s many readers favourite, and most encouraging, bit of the newsletter.

DLA to PIP success
“…I have recently gone through my DLA to PIP process using the guides from this fabulous site I had a home assessment (which I requested )and I found it daunting as it lasted nearly two hours and I was extremely anxious , but less than two weeks later a brown envelope dropped through the letterbox, my son had to open it as I was too anxious, he read it out to me ... enhanced rate for daily living and enhanced rate for mobility! I was so pleased and surprised that they understood how severe my illnesses affect my life !”

PIP MR success
“Thank you for your guide on how to apply for a mandatory reconsideration. With this and the help of my GP, Rheumatologist and Local MP and partner and family, I now receive the standard rate of mobility as well as my reinstated standard living component. All I can say to all of you out there never give up.”

PIP – from zero points to Enhanced on both
“Well, thank you all for your help and support. I posted around 6 months ago to ask for help. I was on the DLA to PIP transfer... I wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone on here for advice and encouragement, it helped give me the strength to deal with the hell that I had to go through. I also wanted other people fighting this disgraceful system to know that it's worth it - keep trying even if every door appears to be closed in your face. Get as much help as you can, ask advice and work through it step by step… Thank you for the help and support and please, everyone hang in there.”

DLA to PIP first time success – thank you
“I joined because both myself and my partner are on DLA and would have to transfer to PIP. I'm a pensioner and don't know when I'll get the dreaded brown envelope but my partner is working age and has just completed the whole process of transferring to PIP. We completed the questionnaire and prepared for the face to face on our own using the advice available to members here. I joined Benefits and Work and started looking into what would happen and what to do before she'd even received the brown envelope and I'm so glad I did as it took months to go through everything but it has paid off. My partner has serious mental health problems as well as physical issues causing her extreme constant pain. I am convinced that using the correct terminology and "descriptors" throughout the process (learned from this site) was a major factor in her being awarded the enhanced rate in both categories. We are thrilled it's all over for her the only down side is we're unable to jump up and down with excitement to celebrate because of our disabilities. Now I've got to start preparing for my turn so the stress isn't over yet but it's certainly reduced. Thank you to everyone at Benefits and Work, it's the best £20 I've spent in my life. I belong to some online support groups and am telling everyone about your wonderful service.

PIP MR & appeal
“Hello fellow strugglers. I joined here too late for help with my PIP reassessment and got standard for both. I have submitted a MR with the help of your guides and getting my appeal ready just in case… I already consider my subscription fee as being a wise investment! I'm full of fight and feel like the guides have given me renewed strength. (Knowledge is power) Looking forward to my tribunal.
Thank you!”

“Your guides are fantastic.”
“Just wanted to praise your fantastic guides. I went through the ESA process a couple of years ago and was placed in the WRA group. Today I got my transfer from DLA to PIP result and got Enhanced results on both daily living and mobility. Your guides are fantastic. They really helped answer the questions and set out my replies.I can’t recommend them highly enough.”

“Keep up the good work!”
“I was put in the ESA support group with no problems at all after I used your guides to fill in the form. I have mental health problems so I emphasised the fact that if I was forced to look for work, the stress would make me ill and I could then be "a danger to myself or others". I would not have known that this was such an important thing to emphasise if I had not read your guides. I had a face to face assessment which I did find very stressful, but the woman who did it was very nice, very caring and understanding. She ended it early because she had already made a decision. My brother-in-law accompanied me for moral support. I really am most grateful to you for your help. Keep up the good work!”

“this invaluable resource”
“I just heard I've been awarded Enhanced Rate on both Care and Mobility components on transfer from DLA to PIP, until 2023!
I simply couldn't have managed to get through this stressful process without the detailed guidance and support from your outstanding Website!
Thank you for providing this invaluable resource.”

“clear and detailed information”
“Thank you for your help completing my PIP application. Your clear and detailed information helped secure a better award under PIP than I had previously.”

“It is a huge relief”
“I want to thank you for all that you do. I used the valuable information from yourselves and, eventually, I have been awarded PIP for four years. It is a huge relief.
Thank you doesn't seem to cover how grateful I am.”

“the service you provide is vital”
“The invaluable information and advice provided by your excellent organisation has allowed my husband and I to submit a successful challenge to the DWP’s decision to disallow my autistic brother’s ESA following his assessment review. The relief of a reversal of the original decision is enormous. My 63 year old brother who has many physical issues as well as autism was awarded an unbelievable zero points in his initial assessment. He has now been placed in the support group for at least the next two years following a mandatory review. Your guides proved invaluable in the preparation of our submissions for the appeal and without your help I don’t think we would have known how to proceed. I can’t thank you enough for your help, the service you provide is vital to obtaining a successful outcome.”

“amazing advice”
“I have just received the higher rate of both elements of PIP and wanted to say a huge thank you for the amazing advice on your website. I couldn’t have done it without you. Keep up the good work !!”

Give yourself the best possible chance of getting the right ESA, PIP or DLA 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: 67349

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, 15 December.

Good luck,

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


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