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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.

Successful – ESA Support Group
“Many thanks. Today I learned that I continue in the ESA support group for another 3 years which takes me up to 67 year old - well into my retirement period. Can I thank all the advice and guidelines given to me and this site is the best subscription I’ve ever bought. Good luck to all those going through their assessment now and in the future”

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Dear Reader,

In this edition we reveal that the DWP are beginning work on a possible combined PIP and ESA assessment.

We discover that the Royal College of GPs wants urgent changes to letters sent to GPs about when to issue fit notes.

And we learn that the Nursing and Midwifery Council has been failing to properly investigate complaints against nurses carrying out PIP assessments.

We also look at the struggle to keep the Benefits and Work forum running and ask for your help and suggestions.

 

FEASIBILITY TESTING OF COMBINED PIP AND ESA ASSESSMENT
The DWP say they have begun the process of designing a feasibility test of a combined PIP and ESA assessment.

Baroness Buscombe, parliamentary under-secretary at the DWP was asked last month whether the DWP “have opened consultation on merging Personal Independence Payment and Employment and Support Allowance assessments”.

She replied that a feasibility test was being designed over the summer of 2019 and that:

“By testing the feasibility of a single assessment for Employment and Support Allowance/Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment we can seek to understand if it will improve the assessment process for our customers, and ensure that they still get the right decision.”

For many disabled claimants, however, the possibility that a single assessment by a health professional with no specialist knowledge of their condition could deprive them of two benefits at the same time is never going to seem like an improvement.

Especially if, as with most DWP initiatives, the primary aim turns out to be cutting costs rather than improving the process.

 

GP BODIES CALL FOR URGENT FIT NOTE ADVICE CHANGES
The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has called for urgent changes to be made to letters sent to GPs about when to issue fit notes, warning of the danger to patients health if the text remains unaltered.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has also called for changes to be made.

As reported in previous newsletters, the DWP have changed the wording of the ESA65B letters so that GPs are no longer told that they should issue fit notes to a claimant who lodges an appeal against a work capability assessment.

The RCGP has now written to the work and pensions secretary to say:

“ . . . significant evidence has come to light about the negative impact that these changes have had in relation to patient care, leading to some patients being denied fit notes by their doctors . . .

As a minimum we would want to see the wording of the ESA65B letter urgently changed to its previous wording . . .”

The RGCP also told the work and pensions committee:

“Without a fit note from their GP, claimants who are awaiting the outcome of their appeal will not be able to receive ESA. They would therefore have to seek Universal Credit or Jobseekers Allowance, and subsequently try and meet the work-seeking requirements of those benefits, potentially endangering their health in the process.”

The BMA has also called for the wording to be revised.

Both bodies have denied claims by the DWP that they were consulted about and agreed to the original changes to the ESA65B letter sent to GPs.

 

PIP COMPLAINTS AGAINST NURSES NOT BEING PROPERLY INVESTIGATED
Hardly any complaints by claimants against nurses carrying out PIP assessments have been properly investigated, a watchdog has found.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is the body responsible for looking into complaints against nurses.

Yet out of 83 complaints about PIP assessment nurses in 2017-18, just two led to a full investigation by the NMC. Almost all the rest were dismissed at the earliest possible stage.

It was these figures that led to the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) looking into the matter.

They sampled 28 of the complaints and found a catalogue of failures by the NMC, including:

a refusal to consider all the issues raised by complainants;

relying on the findings made by Atos and Capita to justify closing cases;

failure to consider crucial documentary evidence;

ignoring evidence from complainants;

failure to ask complainants for further evidence.

The PSA came to the conclusion that the handling of 24 out of 28 cases “might undermine confidence” in the NMC.

They also found that the NMC’s failure to properly do its job in two of the cases “might not be sufficient to protect the public” and it was unable to reach a conclusion on public protection in no fewer than nine of the other cases.

The NMC claim that since 2018 they have taken action to improve training and the way that they review cases.

Whether this will result in more PIP assessors facing sanctions for producing utterly misleading reports remains to be seen.

 

THE FUTURE OF THE BENEFITS AND WORK FORUM
The Benefits and Work website has been supporting claimants since 2002.

And for most of that time there has been a forum on the site.

It has gone through various incarnations over the years.

In the beginning there were no moderators and posts sometimes didn’t get answered for many days.

Then there have been times when we had lots of moderators and when we ran separate forums for benefits information and for more general discussion about the politics of welfare benefits.

In recent years there has been a single forum aimed solely at supporting members with PIP and ESA/UC claims and appeals.

But, as benefits have become more complex and the pace of change has increased, we have struggled to find volunteers to act as moderators.

In fact, for a long time now, Gordon has been the only long-term moderator.

He has done an extraordinary job and there are literally thousands of claimants who would not have the award they do without Gordon’s help.

But it’s far too big a job for a single person to manage and Gordon can’t continue to work alone indefinitely.

So, we’re looking for offers of help and for ideas for ways to give the forum a long-term future.

One possibility we are looking at is offering online benefits training to people who are willing to commit to helping on the forum on a regular basis – health permitting at any given time.

For more information and to offer your help or suggestions, please check out the article on the site.

Good Luck,

Steve Donnison

 

PIP success!
“I would like to thank the group for all the info on here and helping me answer the PIP form. After the home visit I have just had a letter within 3 weeks to say I have been awarded PIP at the enhanced rate.”

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: 37484

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

 

BENEFITS NEWS
The future of the Benefits and Work forum
The Benefits and Work website has been supporting claimants since 2002.

PIP complaints against nurses not being properly investigated says watchdog
The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) has found that the majority of complaints against nurses carrying out PIP assessments are not being properly investigated, Disability News Service has reported.

Feasibility testing of combined PIP and ESA assessment has begun
The DWP has begun testing the feasibility of creating a single assessment for PIP and ESA.

Royal College of GPs calls for urgent fit note advice changes and warns of danger to patients
The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has called for urgent changes to be made to letters sent to GPs about when to issue fit notes.

DWP failures lead to £20,000 plus bills for some carers
The National Audit Office (NAO) has accused the DWP of pursuing carers for overpayments that it should have discovered over a decade ago in some cases.

Overwhelming rejection of SMI loans by claimants
The government’s decision to convert support for mortgage interest (SMI) from a benefit into a loan has led to the vast majority of recipients abandoning the scheme altogether.

Trussell Trust calls for end to UC 5 week wait
The Trussell Trust has called for the five week waiting period for universal credit (UC) to be abolished as it released figures showing another big rise in food bank use.

 

GOOD NEWS BY EMAIL AND 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, bit of the newsletter.

Good news – PIP award
“I just wanted to thank-you and all people at this website. Although I started my PIP claim on my own I joined the site at a later date for some help. Today I have received a letter from DWP telling me they have re-looked at my decision for PIP again and they will be changing my original decision of award and my appeal will not continue. I am so relieved hearing this and keep reading the letter to make sure it is real and I am not having to keep up this fight trying to get what should have been decided in the beginning. It has been eleven months since getting a letter to transfer from DLA to PIP and now I have got the decision I am thank-full for. From being awarded 0 points for mobility (moving around) the decision changed to 12 points and now I can keep the car. Also they said this is for an ongoing period and then it says they will not contact me until December 2028, what a result. I am on the state pension now so by 2028 who knows what I will be doing but for today and the future I can resume my life as I have lived in a state of limbo for months. To anyone still trying to get what you feel you should be entitled to keep pressing on the stress is a major issue but it can all be worthwhile. Thank-you once again and I will still continue to come onto the sight just to see how many other people get good results.”

PIP Renewal success
“I was awarded enhanced rate both care and mobility for 5 years in 2015 had to do mandatory and without the fantastic members guides that would have been so much harder. So waiting on the dreaded renewal after 12 April this year and yesterday received notice renewed until 2029 when I'll be in my early 70s and had assumed they would find a way to stop my PIP before state pension and with no more forms to fill in and they based it on information supplied 2015. I have terrible fibromyalgia, costochondritis and arthritis so please anyone with these conditions persevere it is worth it and buy the guides best money spent ever.”

Successful DLA to PIP
“Firstly, I will like to thank Gordon and everyone involved with this wonderful website. I can 100% categorically say that without this site and your extensive and accurate Guide, my PIP application would not have been successful because I would have completely missed many of the comments that got me points…In over 25 years of being awarded lifetime higher rate mobility and middle rate personal care, my physical disability had drastically worsened. I had also developed mental difficulties. I carefully followed the Guide to compete the form, enclosing countless medical evidence. I was disappointed when I got a letter indicating I would get a home assessment because I was hoping they would make a decision based on the weight of the numerous medical evidence. Gordon from this site reassured me that being offered home visit, which I hadn't even requested, was a positive. . . . I am thrilled to report that I have gone from higher rate mobility and middle rate personal care on DLA to enhanced awards for both mobility and personal care on PIP. I have also been awarded the maximum 10 years with a note that changes in my disabilities are unlikely. I will like to once again thank Gordon and every single person who is involved with this wonderful website. If you are reading this and daunted by the your PIP application, I would like to reassure you that better outcome than DLA can happen and did in my case. I will also like to reassure you that there are honest assessors, even though the bad apples give them a bad name. I will also like to say that the investment of the Guide is definitely one worth making.”

Successful reassessment
“just to say without this fantastic site and gordon we might not have got through this, thank you
my wife was transfered from dla( hrm and hrl) to pip 11/2016 went to face to face, the lady was not really sympathetic, she was awarded standard rate on both untill 11/2019, i pleaded with her to have a mr and appeal but she was to ill and stressed to do it. 12/2018 got the reassessment form we sent off 15/12/18. she had her ftf 04/04/19 . at last got a sympathetic nurse. got the brown envelope 20/04/19. she was awarded enhanched on both until 04/22 and a reassessment 04/21”


PIP Awarded
“I've been using your site for years as I'm in receipt of both ESA ( support group) and PIP (daily living enhanced rate ). I couldn't do it without this sites invaluable help. In October 2019 I was sent my questionnaire form for PIP, which I'd been in receipt of for the last 6 yrs, which I duly sent in after a lot of stress. Eventually I received my reply informing me I was eligible for a home medical assessment. Although I found it extremely stressful it was less so than having to go to a centre for it. I was surprised I wasn't asked to do anything physical though I was asked questions about my condition and how it affected me. I was surprised, unpleasantly so, when the letter came saying I was not eligible any longer for a PIP payment even though my condition is an ongoing worsening one for which there's no cure. I asked them to review it again but wasn't successful so decided to go to appeal which I absolutely dreaded. A few days ago I had a phone call from them to say the panel had reviewed it and the appeal wouldn't be necessary as they were going to award me my points as before along with the back pay from October. I couldn't have done it without you or had the courage to follow it through. Thank you so much.”

PIP result
“So April 15th was the deadline for PIP to reply to my points pending the tribunal, the day came and went - nothing. The next day I got an email from the courts and tribunal service saying they were going to chase them, I made sure the court had been changed to my local one and not the one they'd given me which was miles away. Last week I was checking my account balance and there it was!!! A massive deposit from the DWP!!! I worked out that not only had they reinstated my enhanced mobility but they'd also awarded me enhanced care!!! My letter finally arrived yesterday and I've got enhanced rate on both for the next 2 years. I couldn't have done it without this site, thank you, thank you and thank you again. Having failed the MR I put my case for the tribunal by going through the guide step by step and following the advice from Gordon - crucially, I hadn't focused on how my disabilities affect me, I had relied on diagnoses and medical fact when what they were actually looking for was what happened when I tried to walk or carry out an activity on the descriptors. That's why I love this site, it's for disabled people by disabled people, it's not a how to beat the system, it's how to be honest in the correct way. I can't thank you enough”

PIP Review success
“I would like to say thanks I got my standard rate for living and mobility and am over the moon”

I won my PIP Appeal!
“Having received DLA for over 20 years, I was rejected for PIP and so I applied for a mandatory review and included a self-assessment using the information on your website. I was again rejected quoting the same reasons as before and completely ignoring the self-assessment and the further information I had supplied. Based on my self-assessment, I made the case for an award of the daily living component at the enhanced rate and the mobility component at the standard rate. So, following the advice on the website, I filed an appeal. I had the hearing earlier this week and afterwards was handed the written decision. I have been awarded both the daily living and mobility components at the enhance rate without any limitation on the period of award – a great result. Thank you, B&W, for the great information and excellent advice given on your website”

Placed in Support Group without F2F
“HI i am relieved to have received a letter today informing me that i meet the eligibility for the E.S.A support group. And no mention of a F.F. What is the name of the report where they come to this decision i need to ask for to find the information they used and how long the reward will last? This would have been unlikely to have happened without your guides i used to explain how my condition affects me. Thank you so much for your guides they do work. And will use again for my pip”

“I strongly recommend this guide”
My son has just had the result of the reassessment form returned two months ago. Your guide was invaluable in enabling him to remain in the support group which is a fair and accurate decision. Thank you! I strongly recommend this guide.
Ava

“thanks for all your help”
Just wanted to say thanks for all your help and advice. Just had a phone call after starting my appeal in Feb 2018 that I have just been awarded PIP standard rate for living and higher rate for mobility for my fibromyalgia.
Thanks B&W and Gordon.
Emma

“Cannot thank your site enough for all the amazing information”
My 19 year old son who has Autism and various related issues was reassessed for PIP in June 2018.....an ATOS assessor was sent to the house for a face to face interview which he was unable to take part in due to anxiety....the assessor allowed myself to complete this on his behalf only stating that she would need to see him....managed to coax him to the door....but there was no verbal interaction.......I was absolutely horrified when the report came back with a zero award......having initially been on enhanced for both daily living and following and planning the route of a journey….most of what was in the report was the opposite to what was discussed and even stating that my son had conversed with her clearly etc.I was in a state of disbelief and then decided to take it further.....Asked for a Mandatory Reconsideration which was also turned down.
A friend urged me to appeal which I did feeling that I had nothing to lose anyway...
Have today received a letter to say that the paper based appeal we had opted for has been successful and that it will last until 2023.....Cannot thank your site enough for all the amazing information it provides....I have been a member for a few years now and I would have had no idea how to appeal...….thank you again
Ella

“thank you for your amazing guide”
I am writing to say thank you for your amazing guide for completing a PIP application and preparing for your Assessment Interview. My husband became seriously ill in May and was diagnosed with a rare for of Vasculitis called Bechets disease. We were advised by our local branch of CAB to apply for PIP but when the form arrived they were unable to give us an appointment for help with the form until after its due date. I found your website online and became a member. I am pleased to say that my husband has been awarded Standard Rate for Care and Mobility for the next 2 year back dated to September. This is more than we expected and I have to say that we were treated very fairly and courteously at the interview.
Without the help of your guide, I am sure this would not have been the result.
Thank you doesn’t really seem to express our gratitude enough. Your guide was invaluable.
Abigail

 

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: 37484

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