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Benefits and Work has heard several accounts lately of awards of the mobility component of PIP being refused based on allegedly bogus observations of claimants walking in assessment centres. We have now been contacted by a disability group to ask if such cases are on the rise?

One claimant posting a comment on the Benefits and Work website recently about an assessment centre warned:

“It is a few feet along a corridor, maybe 2 metres or less, then a small waiting area. The office I went into was no more than 4-5 metres from my seat. The office was quite small. Somehow I was "observed walking 15 metres in 10 seconds". which is ludicrous because there is not a 15 metre length to walk in there, so take note of the distance. Disabled spaces right at the door, not sure about the car parks.”

A disability organisation has also been in contact with us in relation to a claimant who was allegedly observed walking 50 metres at an assessment centre. They are certain there was no corridor of anything like that length in the centre.

Another poster, in relation to a different centre warned that :

“There are markings on the floor to measure how far you can walk either aided or unaided.”

There is nothing legally wrong with health professionals observing how far a claimant walks and using that as evidence. From that point of view, having markings on the floor could aid accuracy.

However, even if the distance and time are correctly measured, there are many other issues that need to be taken into account.

For example, can the claimant cover the distance reliably and repeatedly? Do they suffer pain or severe discomfort? Could they walk a similar distance on pavements outdoors where there are uneven surfaces or kerbs?

If the assessor bases their entire opinion on mobility on a snapshot of the claimant on the day, walking indoors in the assessment centre and without asking any questions about issues such as whether they are experiencing pain or discomfort, then their evidence is of little value.

A tribunal is likely to take all of this into account. There is nothing new about questionable or incomplete observations by health professionals.

But is such evidence being increasingly relied upon?

If the DWP are refusing many more claims on the basis of unreliable observations, we know that a very large percentage of claimants will not go on to appeal, even though there is a very strong probability they would win.

The result will be fewer successful PIP claims.

We also know that PIP award rates have fallen dramatically, from 42% overall to just 30% last October for new claims.

There has not been any change in the law or in publicly available guidance to account for this dramatic drop.

Could bogus observations be one of the hidden explanations?

Please let us know your experiences.

Comments  

#11 lizt12 2020-02-01 18:20
On my last assessment they claimed that I fully straightened my legs to push myself back in my wheelchair and on examination when standing I had stood with bent legs. They said I could therefore fully straighten my legs and didn't have a problem with mobility. I hardly straightened my legs to move myself in my chair as I was slipping out. They also claimed to have examined my right wrist and that it had full movement, but they didn't because it was in a splint due to being broken.
#10 Margaret 2020-01-31 12:01
I have recently helped a friend appeal the removal of the mobility component of his PIP. The assessor stated that he was observed to have walked a distance of 30 metres unaided, a distance which would not have been possible even if it included the distance from/to the car and his entire time at the assessment centre. A great deal was also made of his facial expression during the assessment to conclude that he was not in pain or suffering from depression related to his condition.
#9 phrank 2020-01-29 19:13
I walk with a very pronounced limp and my leg has bent inwards below the knee after many, many years of 'over' compensating with my good leg. My bad leg is much thinner due to this.

I have used a stick for many years and walk at a snail's pace.

The assessor walked by my side at my last assessment and offered to help me two or three times as she coukd see I was struggling.

Well, in her report she said I 'walked with a normal gate at a normal pace'.

To say I wad flabbergasted is an understement.

She scored me zero on everything and after requesting an MR I got my old award back, and hopefully through my endless complaints to the DWP and ATOS, I got her 'relieved' of her job.

Phrank.
#8 Joanne Griffiths 2020-01-29 17:06
I was observed walking 10 metres unaided etc. The assessors was walking in front of me so I'm not sure who observed me. I was judged to be able to walk over 200 metres on the basis of this 'observation'?!
#7 martinmacMcGowan 2020-01-29 16:02
I went from high rate both on DLA to zero on pip, in middle of MR at present, she notes she saw me walk 3 metres in approx 4 seconds which is approximately half normal walking speed and I had told her that my walking speed decreases by half within 10 metres. I was not out of breath after 3 metres!!! I have moderately severe prescription drug-induced anorexia, lost about 1/3 of my body weight. Because I can read my kindle I can eat meals normally!!!!!!! and so it goes on through monitoring of coronary artery spasms when on home oxygen and able to cook meals when on oxygen, I have a gas cooker. I am thinking of getting her in court for fraud by misrepresentati on.
#6 IanP 2020-01-29 15:23
The ATOS person who carried out my PIP Assessment stated she was fully qualified in all areas of my disabilities. She somehow saw that i was of muscular build (i weighed 20.5st @6ft1" with a waist of 54"), she asked me to stand up and walk into middle of room, I informed her I could not unaided by my wife, so she then told me to stand, again i said only with my wife, which we did, she told my wife to sit down which she did, i within a second or 2 toppled over to my left banged arm on corner her desk hit back of head on my chair and it was only my wife to grabbed me stopped me totally hitting the floor. She stated in my report to DWP i was able to stand, walk un aided and did so on numerous times, also her secratery got me to sign a form when i arrived, i scribbed due to arthritis and she told DWP I could write perfectly well, although ATOS n DWP failed to issue me copy of my apparent signature. I'm sorry but these ppl are damn right liars, i believe instructed by DWP to make as many reports look good, but DWP apparently DO NOT take their word for it, just my decision letter was word for word what ATOS told them. (This is my oppinion and view of the whole sorry system)
+1 #5 Denise 2020-01-29 13:26
I was assesssed inthe centre. My report noted that I could manage to pick up my own handbag. However she noticed I looked in pain as I did it so it didn;t count against me - fortunately. I felt that because I had paid for some mobility enhancements such as a bath chair to lower me in and out of the bath and this hadn't been provided by 'authorities' I couldn't need it.! I had to explain the financial situation of my partner and some other personal financial disclosures to prove why I had paid and that I did need it. Divulging financial situations shouldn't have anything to do with it should it?
#4 mel0 2020-01-29 12:52
I had an at home assessment for pip about 3 years ago and amongst the long list of truth-warps by the assessor, was the statement that she observed me walking approximately 10 metres without any problems. Trouble was the only time I moved was 2 metres to open the door to her and 2 metres back to the sofa. Even though I included pictures with my MR I ended up having to go to tribunal. I won my appeal with the judge not very happy that the DWP ignored the evidence I’d provided all the way through.
#3 Stewart 2020-01-29 12:20
On both my ESA and PIP assessments the assessor recorded results for test that were not preformed. The pip assessment gave results for over 40 biometric measurements that were never tested and I was supposedly 'observed' walking normally for 20 metres (covert CCTV perhaps?) I complained, but got a totally negative result; ATOS replying that they “…do not feel that any of the information written in the assessment report is false.” I'm powerless and have to now wait for over a year to expose these lies at the tribunal.
+1 #2 Elisabeth 2020-01-29 11:16
I was assessed at home but bogus claims also made She saw me walk a max of 5 metres at one time but claimed I could walk 20 - 50 m because I had a garden! I am in severe pain and can not even walk 10m reliably and repeatedly, and fall and stumble . I crawl to garden or use my wheelchair. She saw me pick a piece of paper with a sticky pad pick upper, and claimed I could do all sorts of tasks like turn on a stiff shower,,she even claimed my back was normal. She never examined it had she done so may be the metal work and scar would indicate otherwise. Even being a driver counted against me. I was lucky in that at Mandatory Reconsideration I was given enough extra points. The only additional evidence was a photo of my back and the sticky picker upper! The report was obviously a cut and paste job.
#1 blackburnicus 2020-01-29 02:46
At my assessment and was observed walking 18 metres and was in pain after not me saying this the health professional said it in the report,i was put on lower rate pips.
I went to appeal at the appeal the chair said I was going to lose not on mobility,on the care due to muscle spasms in hands and driving and my husband would lose the carers allowance which we could not afford to do so I had to drop it

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