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“How do I even begin to thank you all at Benefits and Works. Finally got the great news today, DLA to PIP, enhanced on both, ongoing till at least 2027!!! Could not have gone through it without all your advice and brilliant guides. Can't stop shaking. Thank you so so much.”
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Dear Reader,

Even by our standards this is a pretty gloomy newsletter.

We have the disappointing news that the success rate for disability living allowance (DLA) to personal independence payment (PIP) transfers is almost at the lowest level it’s ever been.

Then there’s the unsurprising news that a survey has found that PIP assessments are harmful to your health.

There’s the revelation that repeat testing of ESA claimants is back with a vengeance. There are now more repeat assessments than fresh claims, in spite of a DWP promise to stop unnecessary testing.

And the number of warnings that speeding up the universal credit rollout from next month will lead to a catastrophe for claimants is growing.

There is, though, the slightly more positive news that whilst the backlog of social security appeals has almost doubled in the last year, claimants continue to win in the majority of cases – except in connection with one benefit.

Finally, we’d like your feedback on whether you have used our PIP GP Notes, before we decide whether to create a similar resource for ESA.

 

DLA TO PIP AWARD RATES FALL TO ALMOST RECORD LOW
The latest figures from the DWP show that award rates for DLA to PIP have fallen to their lowest level almost since the transfer of DLA claimants began.

In January 2017, 72% of DLA to PIP claimants received an award, rising to a high of 75% in March 2017.

However, the award rates have now been falling for the last four months for which figures are available.

In July 2017, the award rate for DLA to PIP reassessments had fallen to 68%.

Only in January and February 2014, when reassessments first began on very small numbers of claimants, were success rates lower.

 

WCA REPEAT ASSESSMENTS AT HIGHEST EVER LEVEL
Back in 2014, Benefits and Work broke the news that all repeat WCA medical referrals to Atos were to be stopped until further notice, due to a massive backlog of cases.

We can now reveal that the number of repeat assessments has risen to a record high since they were reintroduced in December 2015.

In the quarter to March 2017, the most recent for which figures exist, there were 154,200 repeat WCAs. This is more than double the number carried out in the same period last year, which stood at 72,000.

It means that, in the most recent quarter, 54% of all WCAs were repeat assessments as opposed to 42% which were initial claims.

Yet in October 2016 the secretary of state for work and pensions, Damian Green, told MPs “we will stop reassessing people with the most severe health conditions and disabilities.”

Green went on to say that the IT changes needed for the new system would be completed by the end of 2017, but:

“In the meantime, we will be working to ensure these people are not reassessed unnecessarily.”

The latest figures suggest that the exact opposite is happening.

 

PIP ASSESSMENTS HARMFUL TO HEALTH AND INCOME
It will come as no surprise that a survey by the Disability Benefits Consortium has found that 79% of claimants reported that the stress and anxiety of the PIP assessment process had made their health worse. In some cases people said that the experience of claiming PIP was so distressing that it had caused new conditions to emerge.

The survey also found that almost three quarters (71%) of respondents found the PIP application form ‘hard’ or ‘very hard’ and 11% of respondents were unable to complete it at all.

Over half (58%) of people said that assessors did not understand their condition.

Half (50%) they were receiving less money under PIP than they were previously entitled to under DLA, or they had lost their award completely.

 

UC A ‘DISASTER’ AND ‘CATASTROPHE’
Citizens Advice has warned the government that its plans to massively speed up the rollout of UC from next month will cause a ‘disaster’.

The chair of the work and pensions select committee, Frank Field, meanwhile has warned that it will be a ‘catastrophe’.

Both are particularly concerned about the massive hardship caused by the 6 week wait for a first payment, which is often made even longer by processing problems.

Citizens Advice say that the expansion of UC is 'a disaster waiting to happen', as new findings show it is pushing people further into debt.

Frank Field was even more outspoken, warning of “a human and political catastrophe”. He said that his committee was:

“. . . hearing evidence of people being plunged into all sorts of vulnerability as a result of the debt, risk of hunger and homelessness, and resulting stress of being migrated onto Universal Credit, with its in-built 6 week delay in receiving a first payment and much longer waits for many people.

"People already on low incomes simply cannot cope without any income for such a long period of time.”

An announcement from the secretary of state about whether the rollout will be delayed is expected next month.

 

CLAIMANTS WIN MAJORITY OF GROWING APPEALS BACKLOG
The number of social security claimants waiting to have their appeal heard has increased by 88% in a year, according to the latest tribunals service statistics.

The vast majority of these cases are PIP at 46% and ESA at 38%.

And, whilst around 80% of claimants continue to lose at mandatory reconsideration stage, those who go on to appeal have a very good chance of success.

68% of ESA claimants won their appeals, as did 65% of PIP claimants.

The success rate was lower for the small number of DLA appeals, at 55%.

But only for JSA, where the success rate was 49%, is the DWP able to say they won in the majority of cases.

The message remains clear: you won’t get a fair result from a mandatory reconsideration, but you might well do from an appeal tribunal.

 

HAVE YOU USED OUR PIP GP NOTES?
A few months ago we published a set of PIP GP Notes in the members area. These are a copy of the PIP descriptors that you can take your GP to ask them to select which ones they think apply to you, add any comments and sign and date as evidence for your claim or appeal.

We’d be grateful for any feedback about whether you’ve used them, how helpful you found them and any changes you would suggest before we decide whether to create a similar resource for ESA.

Many thanks to Gordon for taking the time out of his demanding moderation schedule to create the notes for us.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

 Benefits and Work guides covers

ESA award
“Just got my letter advising me of being placed in the support group without a face to face. Thank you for the advice on how to fill in the initial form. This such a relief !”

 

BOOST YOUR PIP AND ESA CHANCES - 20% OFF ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP – OFFER ENDS MIDNIGHT FRIDAY, 22 SEPTEMBER
PIP & ESA awarded
“…thank you to the site creators and community for being a massive help. I have used the guides from the members area to get my Mum PIP and ESA. Thanks so much.”

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: 84672

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, 22 September

 

LATEST NEWS
Have you used our PIP GP Notes?
A few months ago we published a set of PIP GP Notes in the members area. These are a copy of the PIP descriptors you can take your GP to ask them to select which ones they think apply to you, add any comments and sign and date as evidence for your claim or appeal.

Universal credit rollout will be ‘a human and political catastrophe’ warns select committee
The chair of the work and pensions select committee, Frank Field, has warned that the government’s plans to massively speed up the rollout of universal credit (UC) from October will lead to ‘a human and political catastrophe’.

WCA repeat assessments at highest ever level, now outnumbering new claims
The number of work capability repeat assessments (WCAs) has risen to its highest ever level and now outnumbers assessments for fresh claims, the latest DWP statistics show.

Appeal waiting list rockets as claimants continue to win
The number of outstanding social security appeals has rocketed compared with the same time last year, the quarterly tribunal statistical report has revealed. The majority of appeals continue to be won by claimants, whilst mandatory reconsiderations overwhelmingly uphold the DWP’s decision.

DLA to PIP award rates fall to almost record low
Award rates for disability living allowance (DLA) to personal independence payment (PIP) reassessments have fallen to their lowest level almost since the transfer of DLA claimants began.

Universal credit a ‘disaster waiting to happen’ says Citizens Advice
Citizens Advice is warning that the expansion of Universal Credit is 'a disaster waiting to happen', as new findings show it is pushing people further into debt.

PIP assessments are harmful to health
A report by the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) has found that the personal independence payment (PIP) assessment process is making most claimants’ health conditions worse.

 

GOOD NEWS FROM THE FORUM
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 coversPIP Tribunal & mental health
“Had my Tribunal at Luton Magistrates court yesterday at 3pm. Was very pleased with the help of the forum moderators and the guides that I had to hand I went from 9 points caring to 13 so now get enhanced care instead of daily living. Also went from no mobility to low mobility, awarded for 5 yrs. I am so pleased. Was shocked that all that had to question was original decision and the Atos report, so i had gone over kill with every decision made mandatory and even the dwp decision to the tribunal to not consider my appeal. Over all the panel were not delving too much into my daily routine etc.They took each illness and ask me about that, ie epilepsy BPD and about my lower limb foot fusion. But my thanks is to this great site, which I will always stay a member of, as we will never know how the government will change things in the future. Good luck to everyone in the future, and don't be afraid to use your MP”

PIP Appeal success
“I got low rate DLA for a number of years but was refused PIP just before Christmas. I have mainly mental health problems and the HP I saw for the f2f was an occupational therapist and scored me 0.
I did the MR and appeal using the guides from here. Before I went to the hearing I went to Benefit Advice and the adviser who was supporting me said that I had filled in the appeal better than he could have done it himself. Today 9 months on was the appeal hearing and happily I was awarded the standard rate of the daily living component. The tribunal did disagree with my support needs deciding on three categories that I needed prompting rather than support which would have been the difference between enhanced and standard but frankly I think the way points are calculated is not well thought out in the first place so overall I am extremely happy. I can't thank you enough for your excellent publications, without them I am sure I would have been unable to get the right result.”


DLA to PIP success
“I was on an indefinite award of DLA at the higher rate for both components. I have received my decision letter for PIP and I have been awarded the enhanced rate for both components for an ongoing period so naturally I'm relieved. I scored 31 points on Daily Living and 12 on Moving Around. This is despite the DWP losing and therefore not considering 8 out of 9 pieces of medical evidence I sent in with my form! The guides on this site and advice from Gordon proved to be very useful.”

DLA to PIP success
“Many thanks to B&W and forum moderators for playing a huge part in my successful DLA to PIP claim. Enhanced rate awarded for both daily living and mobility until 2023 (So review in 2022).
I have subscribed to B&W since Jan 2013, and would highly recommend B&W’s ‘members only’ guides. I used B&W’s ESA guide for my migration from IB to ESA support group, and for a later ESA reassessment. As soon as I heard that DLA was being phased out I downloaded B&W’s PIP guide and slowly began to gather my evidence together and prepare for the day I would have to apply for PIP. B&W news/up-dates enabled me to keep my PIP preparation up-to-date. However, my condition had deteriorated since my last DLA assessment, and the waiting for the DWP letter to tell me my DLA was ending was getting me down, so I decided to bite the bullet and trigger the PIP process by reporting the change in my circumstances. I felt that whatever the outcome it would be best to get it over with. This course of action is not recommended for everyone as it puts you at risk of losing your DLA prematurely, so please think carefully first. Anyway, it was such a relief to receive the PIP award letter this morning. Wishing all B&W members every success with your claims.”


Successful new PIP claim
“Just had the results of my friends first PIP claim which gave her enhanced for both components… Thanks as always”

ESA deferred
“I just wanted to share this news as these deferrals are still happening. I was gearing up with B&W help towards receiving the wretched form any day. This is the 2nd deferral, following on from 2015. Last assessed 2013….Relieved, but B&W is my friend in need, friend indeed! So my sub will be renewed...Keep it up and thanks”

ESA Good news
“I sent in my ESA renew claim in 8 weeks ago, I've rung them for an update a decision has been made to keep me in support group, I'm so relieved it's been 8 weeks worrying,and all on paper based evidence.no medical I didn't think they told you the decision online but am so glad they did. now awaiting the dreaded transformation to pip. thank you to all at benefits and work for the guides and advice you give, and to everyone that posts their results you've kept me going over the weeks.
Thank you”


PIP review success!!
“Once again mainly thanks to the guides on this site I am pleased to say that I passed my pip review. Had face to face in July and received the decision today, enhanced for both until 2022. What a relief and I must mention that the lady who did my assessment was courteous and professional and was very sympathetic and understanding of my illness and also my situation, there are some good ones out there. Thank you so much Benefits and Work, it's very much appreciated.”

PIP Tribunal worth the stress
“Because today in the case of the DWP big guns V the little people, (me), I'm thrilled to say that the underdog, (me), WON! …Thanks from the heart of my bottom to all at B&W who've been such a great help throughout the process and the information your site has is definitely worth the membership fee which I shall keep subscribing to, so that I'm prepared for 2022. Thank you again, you're all stars.”

Thank you!
“It's been an incredibly stressful time from receiving the letter telling me my DLA was ending and that I can apply for PIP if I'd like to!! Anyway all of the resources and information available on here gave me so much help to fill in the application form and prepare for the dreaded interview. Thankfully I've had confirmation that my PIP has been approved so I can breathe again! Thank you for such a brilliant website”

BOOST YOUR PIP AND ESA CHANCES - 20% OFF ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP – OFFER ENDS MIDNIGHT FRIDAY, 22 SEPTEMBER
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: 84672

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, 22 September

Good luck,

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