The DWP is advising claimants who were refused PIP before 28 November 2016 to consider claiming again if they experience overwhelming psychological distress in relation to planning and following journeys. However, in the same document the DWP also admit that they will still unlawfully refuse an award to those who claim again, though they may put right the mistake at a later date.
Back in January of this year, we revealed that the DWP had abandoned their attempts to discriminate against claimants with mental health conditions and instead undertaken to abide by the judgement made in a case known as MH.
In MH, the court ruled that changes to the law made by the DWP in March 2017 were unlawful. The changes had been designed to make it it much harder for claimants who have difficulty going out because of overwhelming psychological distress to claim the PIP mobility component.
However, although the DWP withdrew their appeal, they are still not applying the MH judgement at all.
The result is that claimants who are currently making a claim for PIP and who believe that they should get an award, or higher award, of the mobility component because of psychological distress will either have to appeal or wait for the DWP to do their review of 1.6 million claims and hope they are spotted.
The DWP have now issued a set of FAQs dealing with the MH judgement in which they admit that they are still acting unlawfully.
In it, they advise:
“Anyone who was disallowed PIP before 28th November 2016 and has overwhelming psychological distress that they think affects their ability to plan and follow a journey should consider making a new claim.”
However, the DWP say in the same document that they still haven’t written new guidance that takes into account the decision in MH and so they will still be unlawfully refusing PIP mobility to many claimants who suffer from overwhelming psychological distress.
The DWP say that:
“The Government is working to quickly implement the MH Upper Tribunal judgment for new claims. However, if a decision is made on your claim before this new guidance is established and you are affected by the change then your claim will subsequently be identified by the Department and payments will be backdated.”
In fact, far from working quickly, the DWP do not expect the new guidance to be completed until ‘early’ summer and they will not make any awards using the new guidance until summer of this year.
The DWP’s excuse for taking such an extraordinarily long time to rewrite a few pages of guidance is that:
“We are currently engaging with a range of stakeholders on the required changes, to ensure this process is dealt with as efficiently and sensitively as possible.
“Whilst this work is being taken forward at pace, it is important that all procedures are followed and necessary steps are taken so the changes can be implemented safely and effectively.”
What this means in reality is that the DWP will continue making decisions that they know and freely admit are wrong, with the intention of looking at all the decisions again and putting them right at a later date.
Perhaps the most important FAQ from our members’ point of view is:
Do previous claimants or current PIP award holders need to do anything? Or should they simply wait for a letter?
“We will write to everyone we identify who is affected by the change. Claimants do not need to contact DWP at this stage.
“If you were disallowed PIP before the 28th November 2016 you should consider making a new claim.”
Whether you trust the DWP to correctly identify everyone who should receive a higher award is another matter.
We will let readers know as soon as the new guidance is published.
Many thanks to Daphne for posting them on the Rightsnet forum