Fantastic news!
“Thank you. Today I got the fabulous news I’ve been awarded enhanced care and enhanced mobility on pip, for 6 years!! From High rate mobility and mid rate care on DLA. So I’ve been awarded a higher rate and it’s all thanks to your fantastic guides and help all the way through the process. I’m so relieved and feel like I can now relax For the next 6 years!”


Dear Reader,

In this edition, we’re passing on what over 250 claimants have told us about their PIP telephone assessments.

That’s the positive information as well as the lawbreaking, confidentiality-breaching and bullying.

We have the good news that PIP claimants with short, fixed-term awards which are due to end will now have them extended, after the DWP backed down on its refusal to do so.

And more good news, claimants who were wrongly forced onto universal credit have won a Court of Appeal challenge to have their lost income reinstated.

Plus, hundreds of claimants and professionals have attended Benefits and Work PIP changes webinars and responded very positively.

We’d love to welcome you to the next one – and we’ve some words of reassurance if you’ve never been to a webinar before.

We’ve received so much feedback from the over 250 people who have completed our PIP telephone assessments survey that we’ve had to split this article into two parts, with the second part being published next week.

In this first part we can reveal that the assessment companies have been breaking the law in over one third of assessments, by failing to provide the legal minimum of seven day’s’ notice.

In some cases claimants have received precisely no notice whatsoever.

“Call came out of the blue. My husband answered the phone and as soon as PIP review was mentioned and my name he handed the call over to me. Immediate reaction, was this going to be a scam call.”

Most calls were on time. But some people were kept waiting and, perhaps more alarming, some people reported being called hours before the appointed time when they were unprepared.

And some people never got a call at all:

“Capita did not call. My appointment was at 11.45, I waited and no call was received. I phoned them at 1215hrs and was told that I had failed to attend for my assessment and that they had called 3 times! I was sat with my phone waiting for the call. They then blamed it on Vodafone saying they must have blocked them. I confirmed with Vodafone that no blocks are on my line.”

On the other hand, there were claimants who got not one, but two, calls from the assessor:

“Assessor very nice on first call, but when called back it was as though she was looking for ways to catch me out. Had an agenda.”

Although many claimants are told the assessment will last around 40 minutes, almost half of our respondents were on the phone for over an hour.

“My assessment started at 10.30 am and finished at 12.30am I was exhausted!”

“3 and a half long draining hours”

And, in some cases, being able to endure such a lengthy call was used as grounds for taking away a PIP award:

“My PIP was not renewed. One of the reasons given was that I managed to continue the phone call for so long. This was despite me being exhausted by the call and highly anxious throughout.”

Confidentiality continues to be an issue in over one in ten calls, with assessors working from homes they share with others:

“Her husband was in the vicinity and I was on speaker phone.”

“Could hear noises in background. At one point she had to stop and ask me to hold for about two minutes.”

“Banging, dog barking , I lost concentration!”

“There was some disruption because of her child in the background.”

And having a family member or carer help you give information was strongly resisted by some assessors. This is despite the fact that, as we revealed in the last newsletter, even a government minister says they should be able to provide this support.

It was this issue particularly that seemed to bring out the bully in some assessors:

“They didn't like that call was on speaker phone with my partner present. Told him it was unacceptable to help me. Wouldn't let me answer with more than a few word's. Kept cutting me off with things like "that's not the way pip wants it answered" "I've already explained to you" Numerous threats to end the call.”

“The assessor called me a liar on the phone. He demanded that I must speak for myself and not my representative. He told my representative that she is not allowed to talk on my behalf. He was rude and I was made to feel low.”

There’s much more information in the full article to help you prepare for your own telephone assessment. Or that of a family member, no matter how much the assessor might disapprove.

Part two will be published next week, when we’ll look at the assessor’s manner, technical problems with calls and questions about daily living and mobility. We’ll also be hearing from people who have had the result of their telephone assessment.

Claimants whose fixed short-term PIP awards are due to end will have them extended, a minister has confirmed, after the DWP initially said it would not do so.

Last month Justin Tomlinson told MPs that some PIP claimants were having their awards extended:

“ . . . for those that would be due for reassessment in the next three months, we’ve automatically extended their benefit by six months.”

However, as we warned readers in the last Benefits and Work newsletter, some claimants with short-term awards and especially those awarded by a tribunal, were being told that their awards could not be extended.

Tomlinson has now told MPs:

“There was an issue for those on fixed-term, short awards, but we have now addressed that, and those claimants will continue to get an automatic six months’ extension if it is due in the next three months.”

We are still advising readers who think they should be covered by this extension to check with the DWP that it will actually be applied in their case.

Child Poverty Action Group has won a court of appeal battle on behalf of legacy benefits claimants, including an ESA claimant, who were wrongly forced onto universal credit and were worse-off as a result.

The claimants were forced to claim UC following errors by the DWP.

But even when they won their appeals against the decisions, regulations prevented them from going back onto their former benefits.

PR, the ESA claimant, was £180 a month worse-off.

Another claimant, TD the mother of a disabled child, was £140 a month worse-off.

If the errors had not been made and they had eventually moved onto UC via ‘managed migration’ they would have had transitional protection to protect them from this sudden fall in their income.

The DWP’s reason for leaving the claimants worse-off was that it would be too administratively complex and expensive to correct these sort of mistakes.

The Court of Appeal held that this was not a sufficient justification to treat the claimants differently.

The DWP will now either have to return the claimants, and others like them, to their former benefits or top up their UC to make up the shortfall.

Have you attended one of the free Benefits and Work webinars on changes to PIP brought about as a result of the coronavirus pandemic?

If not, there’s still time as we are running another two webinars in the coming weeks, one for claimants and carers and one for professionals.

Over 200 people attended the last webinar for claimants and carers and over 150 advice and support workers attended the last professionals' webinar.

We got lots of positive feedback, some of which you can read below.

And if you have worries about webinars because you’ve never been to one before, we’ve published some joining instructions and FAQs on webinars.

But rest assured, you can just watch and not participate if you wish, you are anonymous, you will never be seen or heard and you can ask questions by typing in the chat box, or not, as you choose.

“I attended the Covid-19 webinar last week on behalf of the Western Isles Citizens Advice Service (WICAS). I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was concise but still informative, I felt that it was pitched at the right level and both presenters were very clear and easy to understand. I definitely felt a lot more confident about the changes than I did before and in my role as training Officer I’ve been able to pass this on to our advisers.”

Norah MacPhee, Training Officer, Lewis Citizens Advice Bureau (Western Isles)

“Thank you for the webinar on Friday, we found it very useful and it was very well presented. Plenty of valuable information that we can use to help us to advise clients during the Coronavirus pandemic.”

Natalie Keys,Training Officer, Cyngor ar Bopeth Gwynedd Citizens Advice

“I attended the Webinar on Friday and would like to say that I found it really informative. It answered several questions I had concerning recent changes to the P.I.P benefit system. I enjoyed the polls that took place throughout the course and their relevance. I took notes throughout the session and have shared the information with my team who will also find it very helpful with supporting customers at this difficult time.”

Michelle Wills, Support Worker, Northants Intermediate Mental Health Floating Support Service

In this period of constant crisis and change, knowing what’s happening to your benefits is more vital than ever – so do join us.

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: 74838

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


What PIP telephone assessments are really like

PIP webinar feedback, will you attend the next one?

ESA claimants wrongly forced onto UC win Court of Appeal battle

Minister confirms short-term PIP awards will be extended

As always, 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.

PIP Appeal success!
“Hello all, currently in a state of disbelief. Letter received today, DWP scored my friend 0 points. Tribunal has awarded him 15 points Daily Living and 12 Mobility. I am over the moon. The original decision was just a few days under a year ago and the first tribunal decided they couldn't do it on the papers alone. The second clearly disagreed because they didn't telephone for the pre-arranged phone tribunal. This has been an incredibly stressful year, the effects of having his income cut off, of being not believed has had a huge emotional strain on him, not to mention the financial worries. So happy to be able to put that behind him and focus on the only thing that should matter, his health. Justice has finally been done, thank you so much to Benefits And Work, all who contribute to this site and it's guides. Really don't know how to thank you.”

Update and thanks
“I just wanted to say a huge 'thank you' to all who offered their advice and experience while I was going through the PIP review process (since September 2019). I got my decision letter on Friday and my award has been kept the same despite the 'assessment' report which, if followed, would have meant I'd have got no PIP at all… A couple of sentences in the decision letter caught my attention:
"I looked at the health professional consultation report and changed the descriptors previously chosen based on the medical evidence received. I decided to award you PIP for a longer time." So, once again many thanks!”

Successful MR
“Cannot believe it, had a letter from DWP giving me my award of standard Daily Living back. Cannot believe this!!!! Just checked & the back pay’s already gone into the bank. It was 8 weeks today since I went for MR… Thanks so much to all of you for this, I never dreamt that I’d get my award back without a massive fight. At some point I shall lie down & have a jolly good sob. Keep fighting all & never ever give up!”

Telephone appeal success
“Appeal / Upheld by appeal court via telephone. Just wanted to relay thanks to the mods who have assisted throughout. Went from 4 pts Daily Living and 4 pts Mobility to Enhanced on both rates. Judge and panel were extremely patient and all the questioning regarded the pip descriptors and why i disagreed with HP report for each descriptor. I had provided all the information and evidence available and was allowed to explain why i disagreed with original decision. The appeal took around 50-60 mins and was extremely thorough and i did not try to embellish anything and just said it as it was. Judge phoned me back after about 15 mins and thanked me for my input and gave me the panels decision. Waited 12 months for this and stressed to the limit but feel justified now. Many thanks again to B/W and all mods.”

PIP, PIP, hooray!
“So today I have finally received official notification of my son's p.i.p award.. Score 20 points daily living = enhanced.. Score 12 points mobility = enhanced.. Awarded until February 2026… Thanks for all the support to b and w in this very stressful process and all the best to all of you awaiting award notifications”

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: 74838

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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