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DLA to PIP Tribunal success
“Zero Points at Assessment, Enhanced on both at Tribunals!. Huge, huge thanks to B+W, could not have done it without you. Couldn't get a representative but lovely "hand holders" from PSU were great and did help. Still in shock and think it will take days to sink in but aware that DWP could still argue but, for now, after a whole year's increasing dread and fear, just thrilled.”
 

USE YOUR 20% OFF ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP COUPON BEFORE MIDNIGHT FRIDAY, 1 DECEMBER

 

 Dear Reader,

In this update we highlight the 2018 benefits uprating figures, which will see personal independence payment (PIP) and disability living allowance (DLA) claimants get as little as 65p a week extra, whilst many working age benefits are frozen altogether for another year.

We also reveal that the DWP are trying to identify 75,000 employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants who are owed thousands of pounds each.

We warn that claimants are being pushed into claiming universal credit (UC) instead of ESA, even though they will be worse off.

And we flag up the increasing number of presenting officers appearing at PIP and ESA tribunals.

Plus there’s the widely broadcast news that UC is to improve . . . a bit.

And, finally, we congratulate Benefits and Work readers on playing a huge part in breaking a House of Commons record.

 

BENEFITS UPRATING – AND FREEZING
The 2018-19 benefits uprating figures reveal that PIP and DLA claimants will get a minimum increase of just 65p a week, rising to £4.25 for claimants who get the enhanced/higher rate of both components.

Carers allowance will increase by £1.90.

ESA support group claimants will get an additional £1.10 a week.

But there is no increase in the ESA work-related activity component which, along with many other working age benefits, has been frozen for yet another year.

Hopes that May, who pledged to help the ‘just about managing’ when she became prime minister, would end the freeze in view of rising inflation have been dashed.

Instead, news of the continuing freeze was slipped out on Monday, just hours after the announcement of the royal engagement.

 

75,000 ESA CLAIMANTS OWED THOUSANDS
The continued benefits freeze isn’t the only thing the DWP are hoping will attract as little attention as possible.

The BBC have discovered that the DWP have been underpaying around 75,000 ESA claimants since as far back as 2011.

The total cost of putting things right, including extra staff time, is in the region of £500 million. This amounts to an average of over £6,500 per claimant.

The errors appear to relate to claimants who were forcibly moved from incapacity benefit to ESA.

But the DWP is desperately trying to keep the whole thing quiet and is refusing to disclose the precise nature of the error. They say they will contact all those affected.

There seems no good reason why a public body should be allowed to cover up a half billion pound mistake. Benefits and Work has made a freedom of information request to try to get more details.

 

ESA CLAIMANTS FORCED ONTO UC
It may be down to more mistakes and bad practice, or it may be something more sinister.

But sick and disabled people trying to claim new style ESA are being pushed into claiming UC instead, even though they are likely to be worse off as a result.

Claimants phoning the UC claim line in Full Service areas, which they have to do in order to claim ESA, discover that every single option relates to UC.

Even if you choose ‘Any other queries’ from every option, you are likely to be put through to a DWP call handler who knows nothing about how to claim new style ESA.

As a result many claimants are likely to end up on a benefit that could leave them worse off, because it takes into account things like your savings and your partner’s earnings.

Anyone trying to make a claim for new style ESA is advised to be very persistent in insisting that they are claiming this benefit rather than UC, no matter how hard call handlers try to persuade you otherwise.

 

DWP PRESENTING OFFICERS AT HALF OF PIP TRIBUNALS
Following up on a story that first surfaced in March 2016, we can now confirm that the DWP are recruiting and training 150 presenting officers in an effort to improve their success rate at PIP and ESA tribunals.

Presenting officers already attend 23% of PIP tribunals, but the aim is to increase this figure to 50%.

Providing representation at tribunals for the DWP is particularly cynical, given that the number of claimants getting help with social security appeals has plummeted by 99.5% as a result of massive legal aid cuts.

But please don’t be in any way discouraged by the presence of a presenting officer at your appeal hearing.

Just prepare your case as best you can and there’s every possibility that the presenting officer will be left desperately – and hopelessly - trying to explain the inconsistencies and omissions in the DWP’s evidence to an increasingly impatient tribunal judge.

 

UC CHANGES LESS THAN EXPECTED
We won’t dwell on the changes to universal credit – they have now been widely reported.

The hoped for two week reduction in waiting times has in fact turned out to be just one week.

The total amount that can be paid in advance, whilst waiting for your first payment, will increase from 50% of expected entitlement to 100%.

And the advance payment can be paid back over a twelve month period rather than six.

Which simply means that claimants will be left paying off an unmanageable amount for twice as long as before, because of a bitterly unfair system.

 

RECORD RESPONSE TO PIP AND ESA PARLIAMENTARY INQUIRY
Benefits and Work readers can be proud of the huge part they played in ensuring that a work and pensions committee inquiry into PIP and ESA assessments has received more evidence from the public than any other investigation ever held by a House of Commons select committee.

The inquiry was launched on 29 September 2017. Members of the public and professionals were invited to give their experiences of PIP and ESA assessments.

Usually such inquiries will attract 100 or so posts.

18 days after the inquiry began, on 17 October, there had been just over 500 responses on the online forum. That was the date on which we encouraged our readers to take part.

In the next 24 days, until the forum closed on 10 November, the number of responses increased more than fivefold to a final total of 2,828 responses.

And, based on the posts we have read, the DWP will not be looking forward to trying to explain away such an enormous level of anger and distress when they are called to give evidence to the committee.

Whether anything will change as a result is another matter entirely, but we can hope.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

 Benefits and Work guides covers


ESA Appeal hearing result

“I'm delighted to be able to tell you that my Appeal to be moved from WRAG into the Support group has been allowed the Tribunal was satisfied that Reg 35 applied & in reaching its decision placed particular reliance upon the totality of the evidence. (Phew!) There's no doubt that the knowledge & help provided on this site guided me throughout the whole, protracted process & I'm very grateful, especially as it was something I could draw upon within my own home &, perhaps more importantly, actually trust…Mainly though, THANK YOU”

 

BOOST YOUR PIP AND ESA CHANCES - 20% OFF ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP – OFFER ENDS MIDNIGHT FRIDAY, 1 DECEMBER
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: 29384

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, 1 December.

 

LATEST NEWS
New style ESA claims sabotaged by DWP
Claimants who are entitled to new style ESA are being pushed into claiming UC instead,.

PIP and DLA claimants to get minimum 65p increase, ESA support group up by £1.10
The DWP have announced the proposed benefits increases for the year beginning April 2018.

UC changes less than expected
As was widely predicted, the chancellor moved to cut the waiting time for UC in his budget last week. However, the change is less than expected and will not take effect until February next year.

DWP presenting officers at half of all PIP tribunals
150 additional presenting officers are being recruited and trained by the DWP as it becomes ever more desperate to improve its success rate at PIP and ESA tribunals.

75,000 ESA claimants owed thousands each
The BBC has revealed that the DWP have made mistakes in calculating the ESA of around 75,000 claimants.

Benefits and Work members contribute hugely to parliamentary PIP and ESA inquiry
The Disability News Service is reporting that a work and pensions committee inquiry into PIP and ESA assessments has received more evidence from the public than any other investigation ever held by a House of Commons select committee.

 

GOOD NEWS FROM THE FORUM AND BY EMAIL
As 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.

Benefits and Work guides coversPIP success – thanks to Benefits & Work
“Thank you benifits and work for the information I have received on your website. Today I got the great news my wife will be awarded Enhanced daily living , Enhanced mobility , have to say the information I received here has helped with our claim. Would say to all going through this stressful time, medical information is important And as much evidence you can require when sending your application in to DWP. Again thanks to Gordon and all at Benifits and work ,”

PIP Awarded!!
“Thank you to Benefits and Work i have just gone through the dreaded assessment, and i am very happy to tell you i have just been awarded Maximum Benefits, i could not have done it with out the help of your help, keep up the good work. Thanks again”

ESA Tribunal success
“I recently had my Tribunal hearing which determined I did have limited capability for work, awarding me 15 points and placing me in the Work Related Activity Group. I was previously awarded 0 points by the DWP. Thank you to everyone on this site for the help and advice in making this possible.”

DLA to PIP
“I would just like to say a big thank you to everyone at B & W for the Guides and advice on the Forum. My husband has been awarded Enhanced Care and Mobility after being "invited" to apply for PIP…The award is ongoing so we are very relieved that he will not have to suffer again for a good while”

DLA to PIP – thank you
“hi all, just to say a great big thank you to this site and the help it gave, i have just received my PIP assessment award and I have gone from indefinite DLA middle rate care high rate mobility to PIP standard rate care to enhanced rate mobility until 2021. i am happy that for me nothing has changed…again a great big thank you for all your help”

ESA Support Group success
“I want to thank you for your invaluable help in writing a mandatory reconsideration letter. My son went from no award to being awarded and put in a support group. Due to his ADHD and severe learning difficulties. We could t have done this without your guides…Again a massive thanks”

Finally! PIP success
“14 months ago, we started the awful journey from DLA to PIP. My husband has Bipolar Affective Disorder, diabetes, asthma, sleep apnoea and chronic renal failure. His application for PIP was awarded 0 points, thanks to a Health Professional who stated on the report that my husband replied to her questions with the opposite answer to what he had. The MR was returned with 0 points, so we went to tribunal. I have to say that it was one of the most stressful, horrendous, traumatising things I've ever done. My poor husband was depressed and hopeless for weeks after. The barrister treated both my husband, the advocate who came from a welfare rights organisation, and I with utter contempt. Needless to say, my husband was refused benefit. In September this year, a year after his DLA stopped, I reapplied for my husband, using your wonderful guides. He was asked to a face to face assessment which was an 89 minute drive, but actually took us 2 hours. I'd run out of energy to request a closer appointment. The HP we saw was just that; professional. She was polite, not overly friendly like the first one, which had made me suspicious, and asked at the end if we had any questions. I explained that the previous HP had lied on her report, and she nodded and explained that what my husband had said, she'd written down. Sure enough, the brown envelope dropped onto the mat on Tuesday, only 3 weeks after the assessment, and only 6 weeks after the application was posted. My husband was awarded enhanced care (compared to middle rate care of DLA) and standard rate mobility, until October 2020. To say we're ecstatic is an understatement. I'm sorry for the long post, but I just wanted to show people that you have to keep fighting. And definitely use this site. Thank you to everyone on here that keeps the site going, and for your wonderful advice.”

DLA to PIP success
“What a relief I have just been notified that I will get PIP after the change from DLA I will have to have a slight reduction but at least I can still get it until 2024. The stress has been terrible but one thing the advice and support from Benefits and Work was priceless and I am sure without it I would have had to face a tribunal so once again thank you, thank you, thank you”

It’s over! A success thanks to B&W
“Today I received my award letter only 2 or 3 days after the 'We now have all the information' letter. It came as a shock as I was expecting at least another week, maybe two. I can't tell you the state I was in opening that letter. I was over the moon to be awarded standard care and enhanced mobility.”

“you do an amazing job”
“Just wanted to say a big thank you for all the extremely useful information and advice on your site. Previous times we have had to go through the appeals process but this time, after following the advice, my partner has remained in the support group. I have also found the forum useful as I have had similar queries to those posted. It is well worth the subscription and you do an amazing job.”
Dawn

“I found your site by accident”
“I wanted to say " thank you", to all of your staff.
I found your site by accident, and it certainly helped me get my pips form completed. And I got pips!
I have now subscribed, and I hope that many others, who can afford to, will.
THANK YOU, you are all wonderful, caring people You have helped so very many of us”
Selina

“Not sure I could have done it without your magnificent site”
“Hi, just a quick message to say thanks for the information on your site.
After many years of MRC & HRM DLA, the prospect of submitting my claim for PIP terrified me. Having had an assessment with ATOS in Brighton, I expected to wait the 4-6 weeks before getting a decision but remarkably, the notification letter was dated just 10 days after my appointment !
I was awarded SR daily living & ER mobility until 2021 - phew, panic over !
Not sure I could have done it without your magnificent site so thank you very much & I have recommended you to other disabled people undertaking this dreadful journey.”
Helen

“I cannot thank you enough!”
“I want to give you a big, big thank. I first joined Benefits and work a few years ago when I was switched from IB to ESA. Your guides helped me get through the process unscathed and I was put unto the support group without an assessment, based solely on my application and medical evidence.
I recently was switched from DLA (lifetime award given unanimously by appeal panel years ago) to PIP. Once again I used your helpful guides and was awarded the equivalent rates of PIP - standard personal care and enhanced mobility. I cannot thank you enough!”
Heather

“I am SO very grateful to you for the guides”
“I just wanted to say thank you for the massive help your great site has given us.
My 27 year old son has just been moved from DLA (from infancy) to PIP . For me it was a stressful time. Before moving he had indefinite medium rate for living and lower for mobility. He has been awarded enhanced for living and mobility until 2020. Why only until 2020 I have no idea because his conditions are lifetime ones, But, I am SO very grateful to you for the guides. Without those I have no doubt that I would have had no idea at all how to navigate our way through this testing time.
My very best wishes to you all. Keep up the good fight!”
Ben

“thank you very much for the info which helped 100%”
“hi just to say that I have been given enhanced rate daily living needs and enhanced rate for mobility needs I was on lower rate DLA which is brilliant . . . i`m over the moon with joy as I always read your news and it is such a shame what a lot of people have to go through to get it or lose everything so disheartening for them I thank you very much for the info which helped 100% I would not have put so much into my claim as I didn`t know to do so thanks again hope lots more people get there PIP as I did without any problems.”

Paul

 

BOOST YOUR PIP AND ESA CHANCES - 20% OFF ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP – OFFER ENDS MIDNIGHT FRIDAY, 1 DECEMBER
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: 29384

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, 1 December.

 

Good luck,

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