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Labour MP Frank Field has written to Iain Duncan Smith to complain that terminally ill constituents are being asked by personal independence payment (PIP) assessors what date they expect to be dead by, the Guardian reports.

Claimants whose death can reasonably be expected within six months are automatically awarded the enhanced rate of the daily living component of PIP without needing an assessment or needing to complete the qualifying period.

Terminally ill claimants still need to prove they meet the criteria for an award of the mobility component, however, although the qualifying period is again waived.

Evidence of terminal illness is usually provided by a GP completing a form DS1500, detailing the claimant’s condition. Claimants are not always aware informed of the fact of their terminal illness and may not be aware that a form DS1500 has been completed on their behalf.

The existence of a form DS1500 is all that is legally required to qualify for the daily living component of PIP under these circumstances. There is absolutely no requirement or justification for a health professional – who may be a physiotherapist, for example - asking the claimant questions about this issue.

However, Frank Field claims in recent weeks two of his constituents who had submitted DS1500 forms whether they think they will soon die and by what date they expect to be dead, causing them considerable distress.

In one case his constituent was asked when she expected to die in front of her daughter.

The DWP, far from apologising, claimed in response that:

“All claims are dealt with fairly, sensitively and compassionately by specially trained staff – they do not ask specifics around life expectancy.”

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