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Free, fortnightly PIP, ESA and UC Updates

Our fortnightly bulletin, with over 80,000 subscribers, is the UK's leading source of benefits news. Find out what's changing, how it affects you and how to prepare. Our mailing list is securely managed by icontact in the US.

 

DLA to PIP success. Many thanks!
“I would like to thank those behind this superb website and guides from the bottom of my heart. The whole process started back in June 2018 and has been almost 8 months of stress and anxiety. But, by following the PIP guides exactly and providing enough medical evidence to sink a battleship I have just received the dreaded brown envelope and despite a near heart attack in opening and absorbing the details I am delighted to have received an enhanced award on both care and mobility for 10 whole years! I'm still in shock to be fair. I can honestly say I don’t not know what I would have done or how I would have coped without the advice from this site. Anybody reading this and "thinking" about subscribing do not hesitate because the difference the advice made to my forms compared to my past ones are like night and day! Again, many, many thanks!!”
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 Dear Reader,

In this edition we cover the tragic deaths of two claimants.

Victoria Smith died just weeks after having her PIP award stopped, a decision that was later overturned at tribunal. Capita were subsequently ordered to pay £10,000 in damages for maladministration.

Jodie Whiting committed suicide as a result of having her ESA wrongly stopped. An ombudsman ordered the DWP to pay her family £10,000 in compensation.

Is £10,000 set to become the official value of a claimant’s life?

We also learn that the DWP have now discovered that up to 30,000 more claimants may be entitled to backdated awards of ESA.

And we discover that the DWP is developing a tool to ‘slurp’ claimants medical data directly from their GP records.

 

DWP ORDERED TO PAY £10,000 COMPENSATION FOLLOWING CLAIMANT’S SUICIDE

Jodie Whiting, 42, committed suicide just 15 days after her ESA was stopped because she failed to attend a work capability assessment.

Whiting, a mother of nine, was known by the DWP to be vulnerable yet they failed on multiple occasions to follow their own procedures to keep her safe.

She had asked the DWP for a home visit for her assessment, because she had suicidal thoughts and rarely left her home. She also included the request in her ESA50 sent to Maximus.

But neither agency acted on her request.

When Whiting failed to attend her assessment, the DWP did not follow its own procedures and try to telephone her before stopping her benefits.

Nor did the DWP consider carrying out a home visit as their procedures require.

Whiting wrote to the DWP and told them that she had not attended the assessment because she had not received the appointment letter.

She also explained that, at the time, she had pneumonia and was receiving hospital treatment for a cyst on the brain.

She asked the DWP to contact her GP for confirmation.

Instead, the DWP simply wrote back to say that as she had offered no proof, they were stopping her ESA.

An adviser from Citizens Advice then wrote to the DWP to explain what had happened and ask for another assessment. The DWP claim that they did not receive this letter.

Six days after the letter was sent, Jodie Whiting took her own life.

Even after being informed of this, the DWP continued for months to write and telephone Jodie Whiting, to the enormous distress of her family.

The Independent Complaints Examiner found that the DWP had failed on multiple occasions to follow its own safeguarding procedures and ordered the department to pay £10,000 in compensation.

The claimant’s mother, however, has called for DWP officials to be prosecuted.

 

FAMILY OF PIP CLAIMANT WHO DIED, SUCCESSFULLY SUE CAPITA FOR £10,000

Victoria Smith died last July, weeks after having her PIP award stopped. The decision was made when Ms Smith was reassessed for PIP, having previously received it.

A mandatory reconsideration request was unsuccessful and shortly after getting the news Ms Smith was admitted to hospital, where she died.

Ms Smith’s mother said that the decision ‘destroyed’ her:

"When they took away her ability to look after herself, to have a way of life, she gave up."

The week after she died, a tribunal found that she was eligible for PIP.

Ms Smith’s family sued Capita for maladministration on the grounds that the assessment report contained inaccurate statements.

The court found in favour of the family and awarded £10,000 in compensation.

Capita, however, maintain that their report was correct, based on the information they were given at the time.

It was, they claim, only due to a procedural error that they were unable to put their full case to the court.

 

DWP PLANS ‘DATA-SLURPING’ OF MEDICAL RECORDS

The DWP are advertising for a company to build ‘data-slurping’ software to download claimants’ medical records from GPs surgeries, tech website The Register has revealed.

The DWP wants to directly access information such as ‘GP details, conditions diagnosed, hospital stays etc’ without the need for GPs to be involved at all.

It is the DWP’s undefined ‘etc’ that will worry a lot of people.

The DWP’s advert explains that by working with a ‘medical records broker’ they have learnt that claimants and GPs lack understanding of what information is required, or don’t have access to it:

“ Citizens don't always have / understand the information needed to process their applications - we have to verify their responses with medical professionals - easier if we could access directly (with appropriate consent)”

“GPs don't always have / understand information about citizens' 'functional capability', therefore route needed to more relevant medical professionals, such as secondary and community care providers.”

Alarmingly, the DWP do not rule out sharing the data outside the DWP.

Instead, in response to a question posted by a developer asking whether data ‘could be shared across Government, councils, for example?’ the DWP reply only that:

“This is out of scope of this piece of work. The primary use for the data is for Health/disability assessments, medical information etc.”

The Register raises concerns about the proposed system causing harm to patients if it makes them reluctant to disclose information to their GP, in case it is used against them by the DWP.

They spoke to Med Confidential coordinator Phil Booth, who told them:

"Patients must know that what they tell their doctor will never be used against them, and GPs must never become de facto DWP assessors due to 'data sharing’. The information patients give to their doctor must be untainted by external pressures, or people will come to harm."

 

30,000 MORE ESA CLAIMANTS TO BE CHECKED FOR BACKDATING ELIGIBILITY

The search for ESA claimants who were underpaid when transferring from incapacity benefit has widened.

Originally, the DWP were planning to check the awards of 570,000 claimants who were moved from incapacity benefit to ESA between 2011 and 2014.

However, they have now decided to also check 30,000 claimants who were moved to ESA from 2015 onwards.

It had been thought that new guidance issued to decision makers in 2015 meant that the problem had been solved from that date.

But further checks by the DWP have revealed that errors continued to be made even after the guidance was issued.

So far, 58,000 claimants have received payments averaging £6,000.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

 

PIP result
“I was awarded pip for 2 years upon review , i was previously getting standard rate care, ive now been awarded enhanced care and standard mobility. ( All thanks to your help and the wonderful guides )”

 

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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.

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BENEFITS NEWS
DWP staff strike over universal credit
The PCS union has announced a two day strike by universal credit (UC) staff in Wolverhampton and Walsall, to take place in March.

DWP ordered to pay £10,000 compensation following claimant’s suicide
The Independent Case Examiner (ICE) has ordered the DWP to pay £10,000 in compensation to the family of a claimant who committed suicide after her ESA was wrongly stopped.

ESA backdating widens, with average awards of £6,000
The DWP has widened the scope of its project to check whether more claimants who were moved from incapacity benefit to ESA were given the wrong award and are due back payments.

Family of PIP claimant who died, successfully sue Capita for £10,000
The family of a woman who died after being refused PIP following a Capita assessment have received £10,000 in compensation for maladministration, the BBC reported today.

DWP developing NHS ‘data-slurping’ tool to access claimant medical records
Tech website The Register is reporting that the DWP are advertising for a company to develop software “that allows it to automate slurps of medical data on claimants”.

 

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. We know it’s many readers favourite, and most encouraging, bit of the newsletter.

ESA success! Thank you
“Thanks to your site and guides I remain in the support group after submitting my recent ESA claim. I wasn't called for a face to face either. The ESA50 deadline was 21st December (ruined my Christmas) and I got the result last week. If it wasn't for your guides explaining what the form sections actually meant and what they were looking for I would not have completed each question correctly and I would not be sitting here now feeling such relief. I used continuation sheets and enclosed 11 pages of medical evidence which I obtained from my local hospitals by requesting copies of my records under the freedom of information act (in advance). Thank you so much. Elated.”

Thank you! Enhanced PIP awarded
“I want to thank B&W for the excellent guides to completing the PIP claim form. I completed the form on behalf of my husband. There were a lot of suggestions in the guides to include things that we wouldn't have normally considered including, and I think this helped to "flesh out" the situation, so to speak…We were hopeful that we would be successful with the claim, as we had totaled up the points we thought would be awarded, but we were expecting to be called in for an interview. Today we received the dreaded brown envelope to find that the claim has been successful, with 36 points awarded for daily living, and 24 points for mobility. My husband has been awarded the enhanced PIP until December 2028… We were surprised at how the points had been awarded…Nevertheless, however the points were worked out, we are delighted that we no longer have to worry about PIP until 2028, by which time they will have probably changed the system again. I would strongly recommend that other applicants use the Guides on here to help with their forms, and also take time to type out their answers so that they can be revised as they go through them. Later questions may prompt additional information on the earlier questions, which you hadn't considered when you completed them. Thank you again for all you do to help applicants with these time consuming and very difficult benefits. It made everything so much easier for us this time around, and we haven't had to appeal as we did when starting DLA.”

PIP success
“I just wanted to say a huge thanks to all the mods here (but especially Gordon), been a member for years and never used the service much but this i have needed it an aweful lot, firstly Gordon pointed me to a publication called "Guide to PIP claims and reviews"  this was some 93 pages long and given i work better with paper copies i printed the whole thing out and worked my way though it and i have to say it is the most boring bit of paperwork i have ever read but if it was not for that single document i would not have been awarded the decesion i was, so if you’re going for PIP read it and re read it as many times as you need to it's worth it's weight in gold. Thanks has to also be given Steve Donnison & Holiday Whitehead as they wrote it but Thanks Gordon for answering some of my stupid questions on the run up to my interviews”

PIP appeal success!
“Thank you to everyone at Benefits and Work, your guides and information helped with my PIP appeal on the grounds of MH vs DWP and their continued assumptions and denials for the request to move from standard to enhanced rate. Whist waiting for a Tribunal date we received a phone call from the DWP who asked a couple of questions before announcing that they would change their decision and allow descriptor, mobility 1.f backdated to 28th November 2016. Whilst the journey has been very difficult, especially for someone with long-term mental health issues. I urge anyone following the same journey to keep going. The relief of finally been believed is overwhelming, I don't mind admitting that I burst into tears on hearing the news. Thank you again to this wonderful site and its guidance through the mine field that is the DWP benefits system.”

It’s over – PIP award
“Its over from 03/17 till 02/19 I just heard its all over I have now got enhanced rate on both and back payment is going in at the end of this week, I would love to thank you all on here, you have been a great support its a great place to come and vent when its needed.. I can now just get on with life again. Thank you very much”

We won PIP award
“Just to say Thank you this site helped me get the full award for both mobility and care that was about five years ago. I had to go to two tribunal s before I won. Now this site has helped my son who suffers from physical and mental health problems. He was on the care element on the lowest but it got stopped at the beginning of last year's after an assessment by the dwp. He was advised to go to tribunal which he is waiting for. In the mean time he was advised to start a new claim for pip for this one the assessor came to our house. He heard to day that he had got awarded the mobility and care both at the higher rate. We are still going to the tribunal for the one that was stopped in the mean time this is going to make his life easier. Thanks again”

PIP Mandatory Reconsideration successful!
“Firstly I must give a massive thank you to the creators of this website especially for the members legal guide packs which in my opinion are the absolute Rolls Royce of guides for dealing with benefit claims with the DWP. Subscribing for several years now, they have been a life saver against the dwindling welfare rights advisory services. Earlier this year my transfer from DLA to PIP came about. Completed the questionnaire using the B&W legal guide and duly returned it complete with additional information and supporting medical evidence. This was an application for both Physical & Mental Health issues. The request for a home visit [assessment] (backed up with a supporting letter from my GP was agreed to.)..I was then dumbfounded to find that the decision for my PIP, whilst giving me the standard rate for 'Daily Living'; had declined the Mobility scoring me zero points for this which was in relation to mental health issues alone. The assessors report was full of anomalies, some downright lies, and in parts it would seem that appropriate additional information that had been expanded on both in the questionnaire and at the assessment, had been mysteriously omitted from inclusion. The most glaringly obvious contradiction was the statement that my medical history showed no record for a specific mental health issue which was the basis for the mobility component being denied. THIS WAS DESPITE THE SUPPORTING MEDICAL EVIDENCE ALREADY PROVIDED TO THE CONTRARY! So, I find myself embroiled in yet another 3 weeks of my time preparing my Mandatory Reconsideration Request. Again it helped tremendously having access to the B&W guide for this, but I must also thank my landlord's welfare rights adviser for the valuable support and encouragement they gave too…After 6 weeks of stewing and worrying about the outcome I was both astounded and very relieved to find that I have won my case for the MR. Money owed had already been credited to my bank a/c and the standard rate of the mobility had been reinstated. This means that I am now receiving the equivalent payment previously awarded for my DLA...”

 

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: 67944

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

 

The Office Team
Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
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