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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.

PIP Success
“Thank you so very much to this amazing site with its wealth of information! I finally applied for a move from DLA to PIP and was dreading the whole process. It took ages! Initial call was in March 2019 and my first payment will be end of November. I was offered a home visit from the get go. Nurse who came out was professional and a bit tense. My report was ready within 48 hours of my appointment. Previously on low rate care & mobility and been approved for enhanced care & mobility for 2 and a half years. Thank u again!”


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Dear Reader,

We start this update with the news that the DWP is yet again having to trawl through thousands of PIP decisions to identify claimants who are owed back payments because of DWP errors.

Meanwhile, there is the revelation that the number of ESA claimants who are set to receive payments because of DWP mistakes has suddenly been cut by over 40%.

We have an extraordinary account by a claimant of a PIP assessment, during which it is alleged the health professional challenged their son to a fight and damaged their home.

There’s an update on your response to the idea of a complaints guide – you can probably guess what most people thought.

And there’s feedback on your requests for open training for professionals, including the top contender for the next venue.

Finally, we introduce you to the DWP’s brand new Facebook page, which Facebook thinks is closely related to several public houses, a property speculator and a man who likes to go for walks.

 

YET ANOTHER REVIEW OF PIP CLAIMS
Another month, another announcement from the DWP that they’ve got it wrong and will have to review huge numbers of claims to see who is owed money.

The latest review applies to PIP decisions made on or after an upper tribunal decision dated 28 November 2016.

It covers two issues.

Special diet
If you need help or supervision to follow a special diet prescribed or recommended by a health professional you may score points under the PIP descriptors for managing therapy.

You might need help to ensure you don’t eat certain foods, for example, or to make sure that you eat the right sort of food regularly throughout the day.

Before 28 November 2016 the DWP refused to accept that help with managing a special diet could count as managing therapy.

Even after the upper tribunal decision they continued to make the wrong decision in many cases.

Hence the review.

Medication and monitoring
The second part of the review relates to situations where a claimant needed supervision, prompting or assistance to both manage medication and monitor a health condition.

The upper tribunal judge in the same case decided that this counted as help to manage therapy.

However, the period the DWP is reviewing awards for is much shorter.

This is because the government quickly changed the law to overturn the judge’s decision.

So the review is only looking at decisions made between 28 November 2016 and 15 March 2017.

The DWP are not planning to subject anyone to a face-to-face assessment for any part of this review.

 

PIP ASSESSOR ALLEGED TO HAVE THREATENED CLAIMANT’S SON
Even by the current standards of terrible treatment of claimants, this is a story that stands out.

A PIP assessor working for Capita allegedly challenged a claimant’s son to a fight, damaged her home and laughed at her account of wanting to end her life.

Cheryl Matthews from Cardiff told the assessor that she had been in so much pain she had begged her GP for pills to allow her to take her own life.

But, Cheryl says, the assessor just laughed and said “Irrelevant, irrelevant, irrelevant”.

Cheryl’s 22 year old son heard the alleged increasingly disrespectful exchanges with his mother and asked the assessor to leave.

It is claimed the assessor then pushed Cheryl’s son and said: “You want a fight do you mate? I can give you a fight."

As he left the house Cheryl says the assessor kicked a safety gate at the front door across the garden and threatened: “"I'll be back for you mate - clearly you want a fight."

The police are currently investigating the allegations.

Capita immediately suspended the assessor and offered Cheryl compensation.

 

ESA BACK PAYMENT NUMBERS CUT BY 40%
And we're back to reviews.

Regular readers will know that hundreds of thousands of cases are being checked because the DWP failed to award income-related ESA to claimants who were transferred from incapacity benefit to contribution-based ESA from 2011 onwards.

The DWP originally estimated 210,000 claimants would receive awards as a result of this review.

It has now cut that estimate to just 120,000.

The amount paid out will also be reduced from an estimated £920 million to £610 million.

The main reasons for the decrease in the number of awards, according to the DWP, are:

The actual levels of entitlement to arrears payments are lower than expected. The average award in arrears payments is estimated to be around £5,000

A high percentage of claimants are in the work-related activity group and not receiving awards of qualifying benefits such as PIP and so are not entitled to the relevant premiums.

570,000 claimants who moved from incapacity benefit to ESA have now been contacted, with just 30,000 left to contact.

 

COMPLAINTS GUIDE
In the last newsletter we asked readers whether they thought it would be helpful to have a guide to complaining about the DWP and its agents.

Your response was an overwhelming ‘Yes, please!’

And that was before the story about the Capita assessor made the news.

As a result, work has already begun on the guide.

It won’t be straightforward, though.

So far we’ve identified more than 10 agencies whose procedures we need to research and explain.

We don’t have a publication date yet, but we’ll let you know when we do.

 

OPEN TRAINING NEAR YOU
Also in the last newsletter, we invited professionals looking for training on PIP or other benefits to let us know where you are based.

If we get enough request from your area we’ll put on an open training day there.

We’ve had lots of professionals complete our simple online form for open training and we’ll be deciding in the next few days where to put our next course on.

At the moment, Birmingham is looking like a very strong contender, but we can certainly go elsewhere too.

And it’s not too late to contact us if you haven’t already done so.

See the link at the end of this newsletter to tell us what training you’d like and where you are.

 

DWP FACEBOOK PAGE
The DWP’s new Facebbok page, ‘DWP Benefits Information’, is to apparently intended to “help people easily find benefits and services information.”

This means the page is largely devoted to publicising DWP schemes such as Access To Work and to signposting to resources such as a pension calculator.

The page is a pilot which will run until February 2020

At the time of writing the DWP had 674 people following their page.

And, according to Facebook, pages related to the DWP include the Dog and Gun public house in Keswick (which has a lot more followers than the DWP), the Royal Oak in Ambleside, the Property Mentor page for would-be speculators and the Walking Dad which is a page run by a dad who . . . walks.

We’d be interested to know what you think the DWP’s page is most closely related to.

Good Luck,

Steve Donnison

 

ESA Support Group
“Thank you very much for the use of the ESA manuals, I have been put into the support
group without a medical and wont be reviewed now for a further 3 years. I could not have
done this without your help so thank you very much is a weight of my mind”


 

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: 84626

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
NAO to investigate suicide monitoring by the DWP
The National Audit Office announced last week that it is to investigate how the DWP monitors suicide by claimants, after ministers refused to release figures.

PIP assessor suspended after alleged threats and damage to claimant’s home
A PIP assessor was suspended last week by Capita after he allegedly challenged a claimant’s son to a fight, damaged her home and laughed at her account of wanting to end her life.

ESA back payment claimant numbers cut by over 40%
The expected number of employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants who are due back payments because they were underpaid when they were transferred from incapacity benefit has fallen by over 40%, the DWP has revealed.

DWP to check PIP claims for possible increases
The DWP has announced that some PIP decisions will be checked to see if claimants are entitled to additional payments, dating back to 2016.

DWP launches Facebook page
The DWP have launched their own Facebook page,

 

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, bit of the newsletter.

Thank you! PIP award
“I have just arrived back from holiday to the dreaded brown letter from DWP about PIP application. I am in total shock. I received enhanced for both components with no f2f for 10 years. Thank you for the excellent guides and the answers to questions and queries. Think I need a stiff drink now!!!”

Reinstated into Support Group
“Just thought i'd tell you of my success in being reinstated in ESA support group.. With the help of your wonderful guides submitted Mandatory Reconsideration. Unfortunately my paperwork was held in DWP postal black hole and was never forwarded despite my chasing. When finally looked at was told out of time but would do it as gesture of goodwill... My file at DWP was noted that my forms had been received in time but their error... Took it to Tribunal on a paper basis as didn't want to attend. Felt i'd suffered enough both physically and mentally…they heard the case on a paper basis within 2 weeks and found in my favour based on my original submissions and GP/consultants letters. So I am now back in support group, benefits reinstated and backpay received. I just wish to advise people NOT TO GIVE UP AND ENSURE MEDICALS ARE RECORDED. Many thanks for the advise given on your site.”

ESA award
“Big Thank you for the information that I used and got Contribution ESA support group”

DLA to PIP success
“This morning I received the result of my DLA to PIP claim, which I've been waiting 8 weeks for with dread. The last I'd heard from the DWP was a few weeks ago when they texted me to say they'd received the assessment report and had all the information they needed (yay! No face-to-face!)
After all that worrying, on opening the envelope though I found I've been awarded enhanced rate mobility and daily living! I was expecting (hoping for) enhanced rate mobility, but didn't expect to get enhanced daily living as well. It's an 'ongoing' award, barring any changes, with a reassessment date of 2029 (which I gather is the longest time they'll leave you between assessments). I haven't always scored points/the number of points where I'd expected to score them (I suppose if I re-look at my claim and the scoring system it'll make more sense), but to be honest I'm not arguing with enhanced! Thank you to the other B&W members who've offered advice, to the moderators here on the forum, and most of all to the wonderful people who produce the Guides. I really couldn't have done it without you!”


PIP awarded while waiting for Tribunal date!
“Hi everyone! I was at the stage of waiting for a tribunal to fight for my mobility component to go from standard to enhanced based on only being able to walk in pain and with breathlessness, racing heart etc. I got an email today to say the tribunal case has been closed as the DWP have changed their decision in my favour! I called to confirm as I couldn't believe it! They say it's "based on the new information I provided" however I had only sent what they already had from my mandatory reconsideration. It was a lot of information, including citing case law about walking through pain/symptoms as well as letters from others in my life. I also used the guide on this website to show that the woman assessing me was not qualified to understand chronic illness or my rare and complex illness. I also stated that she had not asked me about my walking or observed me as she walked ahead to the room. I pretty much went through absolutely everything I could to discredit her assessment and prove my case. I didn't even know there was a chance to have the decision overturned before appearing personally at the tribunal so I'm sharing this in hope that it helps others. I'm not sure what I did right, if anything, but I'm autistic so tend to provide waaaay more detail than anyone ever needs... I think maybe it helped in this situation. I wish everyone else the best in this horrible journey and thank you to those who helped me work out what the DWP may need so I could cover all my bases. I wouldn't have got this far without this site!”

PIP success
“Thank you for you help and brilliant forum yesterday the dreaded brown envelope dropped, enhanced rate for daily living needs(13points) and enhanced rate for mobility for 3 years (24points) with a review from August 2021, so its a start and thank you ever so much for you help”

MP & MR good outcome
“Hi guys, I reported this a few weeks ago that I had been downgraded from the support group into the WRAG. I phoned them and told them I would be submitting an MR. The same week I contacted my MP and asked her to help. She has intervened. I submitted my MR on Monday this week. Today I received a phone call from the DWP from the complaints department. And guess what they have moved me back into the support group for 3 years! The man I spoke to for 25 minutes could not have been nicer or anymore understanding. He told me he’s inundated with complaints to deal with. And how upsetting some cases are. He also told me there are some shocking decisions that he’s seen on peoples claims. I know the DWP are supposed to be evil and our enemy. But I can honestly say he was none of those things. So don’t give up guys. There are actually people who care working at the DWP.”


DLA to PIP success
“Had letter Thursday to inform that the DWP has all info required to make a Descision. Had Descision today. Enhanced rate mobility to continue. Enhanced rate daily living added as well.
10 year duration. So pleased & must thank this website for guidance tips & resources. Thanx so much & good luck to all”


PIP claim success
“Enhanced for daily living and mobility till 2029. Thanks for your guidance , very much appreciated .I doubt if I could have done it without your detailed guide . Benefits and Work worth every penny.”

DLA to PIP success
“I have recently received my decision after being made to transfer to PIP. I got enhanced rates for both parts, for 5 years. I didn’t even have a face to face assessment.
I know I am so lucky and thank B&W for the excellent guides. I had help to complete the form and we referenced my supporting evidence throughout the form to back up my statements. It was a ridiculous amount of work and I couldn’t have done it alone or without the excellent information provided here. Five years will go by too quickly, but it’s a relief for now! I wish everyone could avoid the face to face and get a fair award. Good luck to everyone.”

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: 84626

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

 

OPEN  TRAINING IN YOUR AREA?
Fill in the brief form to let us know if you'd like us to put on an open training day where you are. It doesn’t commit you to anything at all. 

Good luck,

The Office Team
Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
Company registration No. 5962666