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Free, fortnightly PIP, ESA and DLA Updates

Our fortnightly updates bulletin is the UK's leading source of benefits news. Get the facts about what's changing, how it affects you and how to prepare. Our mailing list is securely managed by icontact in the US.

Tribunal success
“I just wanted to say that I went from 0 points to 15 for the daily living element of PIP yesterday at tribunal. I’ve put a few questions on here and Gordon has always been very quick and helpful with answers so I’d like to thank him. I also hopes this result helps to encourage people to keep on fighting”
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Dear Reader,

In this newsletter we look at the latest delay in the rollout of universal credit, which means most ESA claimants have a 2-5 year reprieve before they transfer.

We also learn about how a former top civil servant discovered what a ‘hostile environment’ PIP assessments are.

We hear about a PIP claimant who developed a condition normally associated with war torn countries and famines.

And we warn of a DWP crackdown on carers, with thousands to be prosecuted or fined.

ESA TO UC CLAIMANTS GET TEMPORARY REPRIEVE
If you are waiting to be forced off ESA and onto UC, then the news this week offered a small crumb of comfort.

Leaked documents reveal that the timetable for transferring claimants has been moved.

Testing of migration won’t even begin until July 2019 and large scale transfers of 95,000 claimants each month won’t start until November 2020.

This means that, unless you are one of the unfortunate 10,000 (out of around four million) who are part of the initial trial, then you have at least two years before you will be forced onto UC.

And, as the process is not now expected to end until December 2023, it could be up to five years.

In addition, the leaked documents also say that cash is being sought to continue to pay income support and ESA for two weeks after a claim for UC has been made, rather than stopping payments immediately.

 

‘SURPRISING’ IMPROVEMENT IN DEGENERATIVE AND TERMINAL CONDITIONS – PIP’S HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT
It won’t come as news to you that the PIP assessment system is a ‘hostile’ one.

Or that assessors can find massive improvements in degenerative conditions that really only ever stay the same or deteriorate.

But when previously powerful people are on the receiving end of such unfairness, it can come as an enormous shock to them.

Andrew McDonald was head of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority until ill health forced him to retire in 2014. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and incurable prostate cancer.

McDonald was awarded PIP with 11 points for daily living in 2015 and received the same score on review in 2017.

In March of this year, however, a further review awarded him only 2 points, in spite of the fact that his Parkinson’s has continued to deteriorate. It can now take him up to 90 minutes just to get dressed.

True to form, the DWP upheld the decision at mandatory reconsideration stage.

They argued that whilst it was ‘surprising’ that the assessment had revealed McDonald’s Parkinson’s had improved, it was now up to him to prove it hadn’t.

McDonald told the Guardian:

“I was shocked by the way this was being administered against the interests of some of the most disadvantaged people in the country . . . the system as a whole does create the impression of it being a hostile environment and one where two of the foes are complexity and the sense that it is not a level playing field.”

The only real difference between McDonald and other claimants is that his outrageously unfair treatment made the national news, whereas most people are persecuted in silence.

 

WAR ZONE ILLNESS FOR PIP ASSESSMENT VICTIM
Whilst McDonald’s story made it into the national press, the much more appalling story of Alice – not her real name – made it only as far as the Canary, an online news service.

Alice had been getting DLA for 11 years.

But her PIP assessor decided that having epilepsy, arthritis, asthma, a double mastectomy due to breast cancer and being classed as vulnerable and supported by social services didn’t justify enough points for any award of PIP.

Following that finding, Alice was also found fit for work and lost her ESA.

Because of the dramatic cut in her income, Alice was reduced to living off cereal and had lost four stone since Christmas.

A support worker took Alice to a food bank but, soon after, Alice collapsed and was rushed to hospital.

At the hospital doctors diagnosed refeeding syndrome, a condition more commonly associated with war zones and famines when very malnourished people are suddenly reintroduced to normal food. It is a very serious condition and can be fatal.

Alice has recovered physically, but according to her support worker:

“Alice keeps saying she’s sorry for causing all this trouble. I’ve explained it isn’t her fault. She said she was terrified she was dying. But she also felt like it would solve a lot of problems”.

 

THOUSANDS OF CARERS TO BE FINED AND PROSECUTED IN DWP CRACKDOWN
The Guardian is reporting that the DWP has launched a campaign against carer’s allowance overpayments that will see more than a thousand carers prosecuted and 10,000 fined by the DWP.

As well as fines, carers will be obliged to repay any overpayment in benefits, which could be over £10,000 in some cases.

Many of the overpayments have arisen because claimants were not aware that there was an earnings limit for people receiving carer’s allowance.

In the past, the DWP checked carer’s allowance claimants’ earnings via HMRC and clawed back any overpayments the following year. But according to the Guardian, a new system was introduced to pick up overpayments more quickly. Instead, it has made matters worse.

Anyone who is investigated for an overpayment should seek help from an advice agency or law centre as a matter of urgency.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

 

Benefits and Work guides covers


DLA to PIP success
“Huge thanks to Gordon and Benefits and Work for the excellent guides and advice on the site.
Awarded Enhanced for both Care and Mobility "ongoing" until 2028. Best wishes to everyone going through the process.”


 

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BENEFITS NEWS
ESA to UC claimants get temporary reprieve
The timetable to transfer claimants of benefits such as ESA to UC has had to be drastically altered.

Two former PMs warn against UC rollout
Two former prime ministers, one Labour and one Conservative, have warned against the rollout of universal credit in the last two days.

CPAG launches Write to your MP campaign to pause UC
Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has launched a campaign to encourage claimants write to their MP, asking them to pause the rollout of universal credit and change the managed migration system.

Former top civil servant calls PIP a ‘hostile environment’
A former top civil servant who has a terminal illness has condemned the PIP assessment system a ‘hostile environment”.

Mixed reaction to Citizens Advice providing support as opposition to UC grows
There has been a mixed reaction to the decision of Citizens Advice (CA) to accept £51 million from the DWP to provide support to universal credit (UC) claimants until April 2020.

Thousands to be fined and prosecuted as DWP targets carer’s allowance overpayments
The Guardian is reporting that the DWP has launched a campaign against carer’s allowance overpayments that will see more than a thousand carers prosecuted and 10,000 fined by the DWP.

Trussell Trust calls on DWP to move claimants from ESA to UC with no gap
The Trussell Trust has called on the DWP to ensure that claimants are moved automatically from ESA and UC without a gap in payment.

Failed DLA to PIP claimant suffered severe starvation related illness
A DLA claimant who was refused PIP developed a condition normally associated with war zones and famine victims as a result, according to the charity Welfare Scotland.

 

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, Benefits and Work guides coversbit of the newsletter.

Awarded Universal Credit
“Firstly thank you so much with help an guidance from the member's guides and this forum my mum has today been awarded Limited Capability for work and work-related activities. It has really taken its toll on her but I am glad we got there in the end…”

Renewal successes
“My ESA & PIP has been successfully renewed! In about four weeks. And I am in support group! Thank you so much for advice…” 

ESA result
“Just wanted to say I finally got my ESA IR result (15 weeks after initial application), Support Group without F2F, entirely thanks to all the guides and advice here…”

PIP success
“I received my brown envelope yesterday & pleased to say I was awarded enhanced daily living & standard mobility. I was on dla low rate care and high rate mobility. I think the assessment was fair & I am hugely grateful for all the resources on this site. Without a doubt it helped me to fill my form in with much more detail than I otherwise would have. Thank you for all the wonderful information on this site.”

PIP Good News
“just wanted to share with you that today I have heard that I have been awarded PIP enhanced rate for care and mobility I had a paper based assessment I just wanted to thankyou for all the advice you give on this site also my thoughts are with those who are currently struggling with this process.”

PIP Award
“I can not stress how grateful i am to this site, the guide and in particular to Gordon who answers all your questions promptly. He should be knighted. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou. I have received enhanced daily living and enhanced mobility for an ongoing period. Not sure what that means? After reading all the horror stories i have been preparing myself for a waste of time mandary consideration and appeal but thankfully i dont need to do that. The only advice i can give for those having to go through this is sign up to the site, read the guidance many times and relate all the desciptor to your daily life. It is going to be an undignifying, physical and emotional challange but we have no other choice to push through it like we do everyday of our lives. Good luck everyone.”

DLA to PIP decision
“Have today received my husbands award which is enhanced daily living and enhanced mobility till 2029 (11years). Am so relieved - has been a very stressful and time consuming process since receiving the original letter in June. I feel like i totally missed out on the summer because i was stuck indoors covered in paper going through each question very very carefully making sure i answered in a clear,precise and detailed way answering the descriptors and giving examples when possible.... But definately couldn't have done it without the help of the guides and advice from this site. Absolutely invaluable. Cant thank you all enough for your detailed guides and for answering questions so promptly... The decision maker used the exact same scoring as the hp report so requesting a copy of the hp report is definately helpful in knowing in advance what you're likely to get. Again THANKYOU SO MUCH GORDON AND EVERYONE AT B&W.”

PIP Appeal – from 2 points to Enhanced rates!
“I just recieved what I thought was another one of the 'dreaded brown envelopes' and was fully expecting yet another letter along the lines of "You're not disabled, try again" but to my delight I found myself reading the words 'enhanced rate' TWICE in the same letter! When I was originally 'invited' to apply for PIP it followed the pattern of making the call, waiting for the forms, hours pouring over them using this site for help and finding 'evidence' I fully expected to be ignored (which it was), more waiting, a quick 'medical' from a woman who looked like she hadn't slept in a month and wrote things that made my carer (who was in the same room as me at the time of the medical) ask the question "We're we even in the same room?!" and then the inevitable "You scored 2 points, lets hope you didn't plump for one of those mobility cars eh?" letters a few weeks later. To be honest I expected to be treated poorly and it didn't come as a shock when after a life time getting extra help for my disablities I found myself house bound... Now I've be given 12 points for Daily living, 24 for Mobility...reading the details they are still arguing the point on many things but with enhanced rate for both parts I'm not going to keep pushing. I'm 'in the clear' until 2021 by which time I'm hoping that this awful system is easier to navigate. Thanks to everyone on this site and the wonderful resources provided, without your help and support this would have been far more stressful and the trips and traps laid down by the DWP almost impossible to avoid. Don't give up! From 2 points to 36 on one appeal!”

DLA to PIP success
“Just to say a heartfelt thank you for the advice, and the guides that you give on this site.
My wife, who was on DLA, has just been awarded PIP at enhanced for daily living, and standard for mobility, until 2022. We didn’t think that she would be successful, but by your help she was! Once again, many thanks.”


DLA to PIP success
“I wanted to just say thank you for the guide's and help from here. I received a letter on the 4th of may telling me I needed to apply for PIP, yesterday I received the letter to tell me I was awarded PIP at the enhanced rate for daily living and standard for mobility until May 2020 (I was originally on high rate care and low mobility.). I have bipolar disorder and anxiety, and this 4 month wait has been awful I was convinced I was going to get nothing, especially the longer it seemed to be going on for. However I promised that if I did get good news I would share it. The information from the guide's were valuable, and helped us fill in the form with enough detail. I can't thank this website enough.”

From WRAG to Support Group
“Just wanted to thank you for all the help and support your guides provided when wading through the DWP paperwork for mandatory reconsiderations and appeal tribunals for ESA and PIP on behalf of my son. My son suffers with severe social anxiety and depression. We had to appeal for PIP as initially rejected, but within 4 weeks they reversed their decision and awarded him lower rate care and mobility without receiving anymore evidence from us. When trying to get my son moved from WRAG to Support Group, having used your guides to submit the mandatory reconsideration, we had to go to appeal so I asked the CAB to help at that point as I felt it was beyond me to write a submission. Although my son was going to attend the hearing the decision in his favour was made earlier on the day to move him into the support group with no further assessments or reviews for two years, without requiring him to attend the court. The evidence in his favour was clear cut, but they wouldn’t budge. I just want to tell everyone please don’t give up, keep going. You have noth8ng to lose, but everything to gain. Thank you once again.”

Success at Tribunal
“Well another huge thank you to the people at Benefits and Work. It has taken a lot of work to get to this point but I was today awarded the higher award level for both daily living and mobility. My previous award given from May 2015 to Apr 2018 was reviewed a full year early and I lost points. Apparently, the judge told me that the Upper Tribunal has ruled this early review was wrong and my higher rate for mobility was re-instated just like that. I admitted my asking for higher level for the daily living was tenuous but they gave me that as well. Very pleased indeed! Thanks again.”

Support Group success after Mandatory Reconsideration
“My son, who has hemiplegia and learning disabilities, has been in ESA support group for last 4 years. At review and f-2-f assessment he was awarded 0 points and ESA stopped. Having subscribed to this site and reading everything I could, I put in a huge Mandatory Reconsideration report with loads of evidence. They changed the decision at MR stage and back in support group!! They only looked at one descriptor and said they didn't need to look at the rest of the disputed areas.
Thanks so much to all the advice and information on this site, and so glad it didn't have to go to tribunal. I think they realised their mistake immediately.”

BOOST YOUR PIP AND ESA CHANCES - 20% OFF ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP – OFFER ENDS MIDNIGHT FRIDAY.
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: 97583

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