Login FormClose

Free, fortnightly PIP, ESA and UC Updates

Over 80,000 claimants and professionals subscribe to the UK's leading source of benefits news.


32% of claimants with mental health conditions end up with no award at all when they are moved from disability living allowance (DLA) to personal independence payment (PIP), a study by academics at the University of York has revealed today. The figure is much higher than for physical health conditions.

Mental versus physical
According to the report, DLA claimants with a mental health condition are 2.4 times more likely than claimants with a physical health condition to be awarded nothing at all when they are assessed for PIP.

The academics looked at DWP statistics relating to a range of physical and mental health conditions, where a DLA claimant had been through the assessment process for PIP between April 2013 and October 2016.

They chose a broad range of mental health conditions and compared these with a range of physical health conditions.

The physical conditions included ‘visible and non-visible, chronic and potentially relapsing health problems’ in order to make the two groups as comparable as possible.

The refusal numbers and percentages are shown below.

All psychiatric conditions 47,741 (32.1%)

Psychosis 22,661 (31.0%)
Personality Disorder 1,953 (31.0%)
Psychoneurosis (anxiety and mood disorders) 17,391 (33.0%)
Behavioural disorders 1,120 (32.0%)
Alcohol and drug use 1,456 (28.0%)
Hyperkinetic syndrome (ADHD) 3,160 (40.0%)

All physical conditions 29,323 (16.4%)

Musculoskeletal conditions (arthritis, back pain, diseases of muscles, bones, joints) 20,226 (13.6%)
Neurological conditions (multiple sclerosis, epilepsy) 7,392 (29.6%)
Diabetes Mellitus 1,705 (31.0%)

The lowest refusal rate for mental health relates to substance misuse, where 28% of claimants get no award. At the top end is ADHD, where a huge 40% receive nothing. Other conditions all range between 31% and 33% refusal rates.

On the physical health side, diabetes has a 31% refusal rate whilst conditions such as multiple sclerosis and epilepsy are at 29.6%.

But much more common, and perhaps more easily understood, conditions such as arthritis and back pain have a much lower refusal rate of 13.6%.

The figures show then that in the 3.5 years that the study covered, almost 50,000 people who were receiving some help from the state in connection with their mental health had that help abruptly withdrawn. In many cases the stress of the assessment process, and the subsequent refusal, is likely to have made their condition significantly worse.

The financial help was taken away not because their condition had improved, but simply because the goalposts had been moved in an attempt to save cash.

And also possibly, as the report’s authors note, because as of November 2017, a meagre 16.6% of Atos PIP assessors had a mental health background.

As one of the authors of the paper, Professor Kate Pickett, argues:

“Our study provides robust evidence that the benefits system discriminates against those with mental illness. The government needs to take notice and take action to ensure that those with mental illness are treated fairly.”

One surprising suggestion came from Professor Wendy Burn, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, who said:

“We can provide the best treatment in the world for our patients but if they can’t afford accommodation, heating or food this will be ineffective.

“It is essential that clinicians know how to support their patients in applying for the benefits they are entitled to.”

There are probably many claimants who would hugely benefit from, but struggle to obtain, a detailed and relevant letter of support for their PIP claim from their psychiatrist

Shambolic lottery
This study only looked at the percentage of claimants who received no award. We have no information about which claimants got a PIP award that was significantly lower or higher than their DLA award.

What we do know, however, from the recent Office for Budget Responsibility report is that overall, PIP is actually costing 20% more than DLA.

So there must be winners as well as losers.

There must be some health conditions for which a higher proportion of claimants are getting awards, or getting higher awards, in order to more than offset the mental health claimants who are losing out.

But it’s unlikely that this was a matter of policy intent. In fact, it’s highly unlikely that the DWP could even tell you who the winners and losers are.

They have simply turned disability benefits into another shambolic lottery for no other reason than a failed desire to cut costs.

And claimants with mental health conditions appear to be the people paying the price.

You can read more about the report Discrediting experiences: Outcomes of eligibility assessments for claimants with psychiatric compared to non-psychiatric conditions transferring to Personal Independence Payments in England on the University of York website


#8 LewBoy 2019-02-03 07:37
When i first applied for pip in 2015 it was denied, i had supplied plenty of medical evidence and GP report etc. Mandatory reconsideration was a complete waste of time, they just want to inflict more misery on you like your asking for the mental issues in the first place. Went to tribunal which really made my mental issues worse and still got nothing. I had to wait 4 months before i could reapply, i did & thankfully i got it second time round, and now i am on an going award. But the fact that myself and many others with long standing mental issues are being put through this is disgusting, seriously the DWP ought to be ashamed of themselves, it makes my skin crawl that people can deny disabled and ill people benefits and still sleep at night. I think half of the assessors are bent and only in it for the money, but there are a few genuine assessors and decision makers but really they should have your own GP or a Doctor well known to you to do the assessments, dont the DWP realise its degrading having to tell a complete stranger why your ill or disabled. Sorry but it is pathetic and needs to be reformed the whole system.
+1 #7 david 2019-01-31 12:30
Quoting James Gallacher:
At the end of myesa review the assessor said to me they were just updating their files and for me not to worry or have any bad feelings about it. Does this seem like ive passed my review and put into the SG again?

Btw. I found out today i passed for another 18 months. And in the interview i went in myself, looked good,talked good and just told the truth and passed so dont beleive the people who say font look at the interviewer,go in badly dressed and take somebofy with you etc i went myself and spoke good and dressed well and got told today ( only 10 days after review ) i passed for another 18 months so dont believe all the lies

That is a standard response from Atos or Capita at the end of every interview now. I had the same.

I also went into the interview clean and tidy, made eye contact with the interviewer.
When I received the letter from the assessor - citing my appearance and eye contact in the report, I was told that I was fit for work, and that was despite having told the interviewer I was asked to leave as a volunteer at a charity because I was too chaotic.
One can only imagine that you are a quadraplegic with an oxygen tank strapped to your wheelchair that you managed to pass and have a response in 10 days when the vast majority of us have a totally different experience of the system.
+1 #6 412tigger 2019-01-30 13:12
It’s quite simple. In order to get evidence from your psychiatrist about how your mental health condition affects your everyday life, he/ she would have to move in with you to observe the difficulties you describe. Doctors can only confirm your diagnosis which was fine for DLA. PIP is deliberately designed to exclude mental health patients and even high functioning autistic people. I was awarded it after being discharged from a stay in mental hospital. I had plenty of paperwork as evidence. Two years later I failed to get any award and went all the way to Tribunal only to be told my doctors didn’t support me. I now struggle to hold a job working a few months on the back on benefits, £70 a week!. I am constantly working to pay of rent arrears and dodging homelessness which only makes my mental health worse. You can’t bribe doctors to confirm you can’t make a meal because you’re depressed so no points. Only relief is waiting for pension. Given up all hope of ever getting PIP.
+2 #5 kris 2019-01-30 09:15
When transferring from DLA to PIP I asked my Psychiatrist (in person) for a supporting letter. I stressed that it should include details of how my condition affects me on a daily basis, and gave him a copy of the DWP advise for clinicians on providing supporting evidence.

What did he write? "To whom it may concern, I can confirm that miss X has been diagnosed with A, B and C". That's it, end of letter. He totally ignored what I told him was needed and also the DWP advice. Since then he's handed me over to another Psychiatrist because he couldn't cope with my complex mental health needs. The new one isn't much better. . . .
+4 #4 Chris29 2019-01-27 13:25
Here is the problem I see with PIP.

I expect you get one of 2 situations as the most common, if on the f2f they see someone is clearly very disabled, then they get a flood of points and maximum award. Or they award nothing perhaps zero points, I expect the people who struggle the most to get an award is those who qualify for standard/lower rates, as they probably have a condition thats not so visible and obvious. That is what I see as an obvious flaw with these assessments. They not prepared to give the benefit of doubt if someone is presenting themselves as disabled but its not clearly obvious they are.

This is down to the descriptor system I feel, its kind of flawed, descriptors can be very hard to get an assessor to accept, ESA has a workaround with its regulation 35 which apparently is now the biggest way to qualify for ESA as the descriptors are so hard to hit, both HCP's and tribunals use regulation 35 often.

Really they need to ditch descriptors and simplify the whole process.

So something like this "if someone is affected in day to day life by their mobility" then award mobility PIP, no distance assessment, no standing tests, just a simple question. Likewise you would have other questions to cover other categories such as mental distress when going out, can they handle day to day tasks in their home such as getting dressed etc. without aids. The day to day living descriptors are not as bad as mobility, but on mobility they need to ditch those descriptors and just keep it to simple questions.
+1 #3 david 2019-01-26 18:25
After having gone to a tribunal to get my first PIP award as one of the first Mental Health cases to be assessed in the transfer from DLA to PIP, my reassessment came up last year, 6 months later and this week I find out they have awarded me Zero points and stopped my PIP payments. I will be appealing - but the Mental Health Quota system in the NHS makes it unlikely I will be able to sort this quickly. I figure another 3 to 6 months of appeals and tribunals..whic h is oh so restful and healing - NOT!!
Thing is my ESA reassessment came up at the same time and they stopped that for 3 months with no explanation...p hone calls to the DWP promised call backs that never happened. I got the CAB unto them and still no response....the n on Christmas Eve i received a letter explaining "changes in rates of payments due to Income from the DWP with no apologies or explanation....
Shambolic Farce just like this Gov't.
-2 #2 James Gallacher 2019-01-22 22:18
At the end of myesa review the assessor said to me they were just updating their files and for me not to worry or have any bad feelings about it. Does this seem like ive passed my review and put into the SG again?

Btw. I found out today i passed for another 18 months. And in the interview i went in myself, looked good,talked good and just told the truth and passed so dont beleive the people who say font look at the interviewer,go in badly dressed and take somebofy with you etc i went myself and spoke good and dressed well and got told today ( only 10 days after review ) i passed for another 18 months so dont believe all the lies
+2 #1 Caroline 2019-01-22 14:10
This happened to me.
Three years ago i was moved from DLA to pip.My award was then changed from high rate mobility and care, to high rate care and middle rate mobility.And instead of a lifetime award it was changed to 3 yrs.After 2yrs i was then sent a letter saying that i had to go for a reassessment of my pip award,so turned up for my assessment Dec 2018.Have just been sent a letter saying i will get high rate care no mobility.I only recived 4 point's for my mobility need's.I have severe mental health problem's with suicidal thoughts.I have lost my car from the motability scheme.So now find that i am having to use my care allowance for my mobility needs to keep our car on the road So that my husband can take me wherever i need to go.I have other mobility problem's as well.My doctor is 100% behind me.

You need to be logged in to comment