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“In December I had to apply for PIP after my DLA stopped. After a horrendous face to face assessment and months of stress, I received notification that I hadn't received enough points to keep my motability car, and would also lose my daily living component, so would lose my carer's allowance too. I sent in a long explanation as to why the decision was wrong, and have just received the reconsideration letter, to tell me that I will now receive enhanced rate for both daily living and mobility. It was such a relief after 5 months of hell. If it hadn't been for help from the guides, I wouldn't have stood a chance against the DWP. Thank you again everyone involved”
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Dear Reader,

In this update the National Audit Office accuse the DWP of failing for years to get a grip on ESA underpayments, with some claimants finally receiving £20,000 in back payments.

But the DWP are unlikely to care about criticism. Not when they are shamelessly pocketing a further £150 million unlawfully taken from sick and disabled ESA claimants.

In another ruse to rip-off claimants, the DWP are assessing 90% of self-employed universal credit claimants as earning considerably more than they actually do. As a result they will be withholding an average of £344 a month in benefits payments from self-employed households.

We also have a warning from welfare benefits specialist Neil Bateman that the DWP may be up to their old tricks of trying to prevent claimants from challenging a decision.

Finally, we have the good news that in spite of all the attempts to slash the cost of PIP, the number of successful claims is holding steady.

A National Audit Office report has accused the DWP of failing to “get a proper grip on the problem” of ESA underpayments for years. It points out that even though some claimants will be repaid up to £20,000 “not everyone will be repaid all the money they have missed out on.”

The problem arose from 2011 onwards, when some claimants who transferred from incapacity benefit to contribution-based ESA were not also assessed for income-related ESA, even though the legislation said they should have been.

As a result, the DWP estimate that 45,000 claimants are owed around £2,500, another 20,000 are owed £11,500 and a small number may be owed up to £20,000 each.

However, the DWP is managing to hang on to a third of the money it has underpaid sick and disabled claimants.

This is because it is only legally obliged to repay underpayments from 21 October 2014, the date when the upper tribunal first ruled that the DWP was breaking the law in the way it assessed claimants.

This means that underpayments from before this date all the way back to 2011 can simply be ignored by the DWP.

In total the DWP is expected to pay out £340 million, but will be able to retain a further £150 million that it unlawfully took from the pockets of ESA claimants before October 2014.

A report by Policy in Practice has revealed that, if universal credit had already been fully rolled out across London, the average self-employed household would be £344 a month worse off than under tax credits and housing benefit.

The huge drop in income is caused by the DWP using a ‘Minimum Income Floor (MIF)’ which assumes that anyone who has been self-employed for more than a year is earning at least the minimum wage for every hour they are deemed to have worked.

In reality, 91% of self-employed households in London, where the study was carried out, earn below the MIF.

For many sick and disabled people, self-employment is the only realistic option because they are so heavily discriminated against in the employment market. But, yet again, they are being punished by the DWP for the offence of being sick or disabled.

Following on from our story in the last newsletter about the mandatory reconsideration (MR) form the DWP don’t want you to use, we heard from benefits specialist Neil Bateman.

Neil pointed out that the MR form gives the strong impression that you can only ask for an MR once you have received an explanation of the decision from a DWP staff member. This is a trick that the DWP tried during the early days of mandatory reconsideration, but one that has not been used so much recently.

In fact, it is absolutely untrue that you have to be given an explanation. The truth is that there is seldom a good reason for letting the DWP explain their reasoning as they will use the call as an opportunity to try to talk you out of challenging the decision.

For once, some good news: award rates for PIP are holding up.

For fresh claims the percentage of claimants who get an award was 42% in January 2018.

For DLA to PIP reassessments the figure is much higher, at 68%.

Mandatory reconsideration success rates are also, though less happily, unchanged.

Whilst we do hear from members who have been successful at MR stage, they remain the exception rather than the rule. Currently the MR success rate for PIP fresh claims stands at just 16%. For DLA to PIP reassessments it is 22%.

When compared with the almost 70% success rate for appeals, it’s clear that persistence pays when challenging PIP decisions.

But, judging by the feedback we receive, persistence is not something our readers are short of.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

Benefits and Work guides covers

PIP success
“Just to say a massive thank you to benefits and work. I followed all the advise while I was completing all the relevant forms when claiming PIP and I have just received the brown envelope and got both high rates for daily living and mobility for 10 years. Again a big thank you .”

Support Group success
“Hello. Thanks again to this great site I have been put into the support group without a face-to-face medical although I put my claim in December just got confirmation 2 days ago.”

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: 34725

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

Self-employed to be hit by huge cuts under universal credit
People forced into poorly paid self-employment, such as working in the ‘gig economy’, will be further punished by having their benefits slashed under universal credit.

No need for explanations
Concerns have been raised by a welfare benefits specialist about misleading information in a DWP form.

PIP award rates stay steady
The latest DWP statistics show that the award rates for personal independence payment (PIP) fresh claims and reassessments are holding relatively steady, whilst the success rate for mandatory reconsiderations remains tiny.

ESA claimants to get up to £20,000 in missed payments, but many will miss out
The National Audit Office (NAO) has produced a damning report on the DWP’s failure to put right errors for years after they had come to light.

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.

Benefits and Work guides coversSuccessful PIP appeal for ME
“A big thank you to B&W! By following the advice on the website, I represented myself at my PIP appeal and won standard rate PIP in both components for my ME. A gruelling experience, but worth it, given the result. Hope this will encourage others.”

Great result for PIP renewal
on the 27th February I had a home f2f assessment, even I never ask for a home visit. The Lady was really kind and told me after the assessment that I will not lose my enhanced care and mobility award and she will also recommend no assessment anymore..... So today the "brown" Envelope arrived and........enhanced care and enhanced mobility for ongoing period!!! So if I would be not really poorly with the flu, I would be celebrating... Thank you for all information on this forum.”

ESA success
“Just wanted to share our great news with you all... Thanks to the information and advice given on this site, I had the confidence and advice to originally ask for a Mandatory Reconsideration (which was completely ignored as expected), and then to make an appeal to HMCTS. I sent full copies of my wife's medical records, along with reports from her Osteopath and Hydro-therapist, along with a concise breakdown of all the factors I considered to have been incorrectly scored. Our hearing is scheduled for Monday next, and on Wednesday of this week she received a phone call the details of which were confirmed in writing this morning in the post. It was from a senior assessor who informed her that in his opinion the findings of the initial assessment and the Mandatory reconsideration, were wrong. As a result he was awarding her 15 points for the mobility portion and placing her in the support group.”

PIP mandatory reconsideration success
“Received my MR result today and have now been awarded enhanced rate for both daily living and mobility, they have now taken my Deafness into account, so if there is any other members who are deaf don't give up. Thank you Gordon for your advice”

Support Group success
“I would like to say a big Thank you to everyone in the Benefits work and guide for your help and advice to filling out my forms for E.S.A , I filled in my form in October 2017, did not hear anything until I received a letter in late February 2018 telling me I had to go for f/f on 2 march, had a terrible medical I felt intimidated by the lady and didn't hold out much hope! This week I received the brown letter telling me I was still in the "Support group" Once again Thank you all and keep up the good work you all do!”

PIP appeal success
“… appealing to the Tribunal.. I get a letter to say both componots of my PIP is now back to Enhanced rate for both ( I was on higher rate DLA for both care and mobility) This would not of been possiable without this forum, plus the advice given from both the admistrators and other members
Plus the Millions of members posts in the forum Thank you so much...Best £14.99 I’ve ever spent…
Don’t Give up the fight ..Thank you again to all who helped me!!!”

PIP tribunal success
“Sadly I heard about your site after my mandatory reconsideration was refused. I applied in June 2017. The journey has just been difficult it has been traumatising. I became a member when I realised I couldn't step back from the humiliating way I was treated throughout the process… Just wanted to thank you for the guides for my appeal which was heard on the 13th March. It was gruelling... I came out with my husband and felt drained and dejected. Telling myself that it simply wasn't worth the pain or stress. I was told they would make there decision in the next few days. The morning after I contacted the court and was told that they had set aside the secretary of states decision and I was awarded 11 points fir dl and 10 points for mobility. So thank you for the invaluable information on here”

Many thanks – PIP Result
“Many thanks for all the help I have received both in the guides and through the Forum, I have not only kept my Higher rate mobility award but have also been given standard award for help requirements. My only concern is it's only until Feb 2022 then it's revues, but I will just have to see how it goes with the revue. HOWEVER I will be keeping my membership going as a thank you for the help so far and the help I may need in 2022. Keep up the good work Guys.”

Thank you for your help re ESA
“Hi Thank you again for the help and the advice guides here, hubby received letter today and has been placed in the Support Group after an assessment.”

Nightmare day – the PIP brown envelope
“Filled out the pip renewal form in December - Only a couple of conditions that got worse so most were the same, I did write notes on each of them. So Thursday night visiting an Elderly relative who was taken to hospital - and let out later (All Ok) My knee gave way again, I fell and Dislocated and broke my arm OUCH. Anyway after 1 hour on the floor in the garden waiting for the ambulance then 6 hours in the hospital - I get home and there it is the brown Envelope - I open it and GREAT PIP renewed for four years. Thank you yet again for the support work on here”

ESA Support Group and PIP Mobility award
“Thank you for the helpful guides in the files and the support on the forums. I have been placed directly into the ESA support group until end of 2020 and awarded enhanced rate mobility for PIP. I don’t receive any money for the esa support as I receive an ill health early retirement pension but it was worth applying for as the esa award will ensure I am still contirubuting to the state old age pension so I will have a full pension when I reach old age retirement. We were disappointed to miss out on daily living standards PIP by one point and the mandatory reconsideration did not change that. I a, not prepared to go to tribunal as I don’t wish to threaten my enhanced mobility award. So, many thanks for all the help and support.”

“Seriously i was bricks b4 i found your advice site. I took my time & filled the form in as u adviced, hence the outcome (enhanced rate for both)... I am gratefull for the advice & the proffessionell approach to filling in the form, i can't thank you enough.”

ESA Support Group Appeal won
“Hi, I went with my son to Liverpool appeals court last week were he won his ESA support group appeal. They also recommended he not be re-assessed. This was after going through a very anxious two years. We couldn't find anyone official to go with him because of all the cuts so I had to go. We were in there about ten minutes, there was a judge, a specialist medical practitioner and a clerk. No WDP rep. Huge table, them one side and us on the other. The Judge was quite kindly and not as scary as we thoughts thank goodness. Thanks to this site for all the help”

PIP Mental Health Success
“My sons DLA to PIP went it on the 13th October last year he was receiving middle care and low mobility for ADHD, Global learning difficulties and on the autistic spectrum..No face to face due to it may cause overwhelming psychological distress. We didn't send any supporting medical evidence however Capita made a request directly to the GP. Got the decision yesterday after a nearly 5 month wait.....Enhanced daily living and enhanced mobility. He has no physical issues with mobility so scored 12 points on the mental health alone (which may be encouraging to others) Just like to say a massive thanks for your guides they helped no end"

PIP Awarded
“Hi, I am just writing to say I have been successful in my PIP claim & to thank you for the excellent advice & support you gave.. I feel the success was entirely due to following the B&W Guides closely so the information I included on the form and the amount of evidence I submitted all weighed in my favour. Thank you for your excellent 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: 34725

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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