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DLA to PIP success
“Today I got my pip mandatory reconsideration letter, I’d like to thank everybody for their help. This site is a godsend. My original decision was standard for both, I was 2 points off of enhanced for both.
Today I got the letter saying they had changed their decision to enhanced for both what a relief.”


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Dear Reader,

In this edition we ask if bogus observations by PIP health professionals are part of the reason for plummeting PIP awards.

We reveal that the DWP will not be contacting any more claimants about the IB to ESA underpayments fiasco.

We discover that an upper tribunal decision means that as many as 192,000 PIP claimants may have had their claim unlawfully stopped because they failed to attend an assessment.

We have statistics that show that complaints about Atos have almost doubled in four years.

Unfortunately, anyone taking their complaint to the Independent Complaints Examiner can expect to wait over a year before an investigation is even begun.

Finally, we learn of another tragic death by starvation of a claimant who had his ESA stopped.

 

ARE MORE BOGUS OBSERVATIONS BEING USED TO REFUSE PIP AWARDS?
We revealed in the last newsletter 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?

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.

Last November the Multiple Sclerosis Society produced a report on how PIP assessments were failing its members. The report placed the blame squarely on unevidenced ‘informal observations’ by PIP assessors being preferred to the evidence of the claimant or their health professionals.

58% of claimants with MS who saw their PIP assessment report said it included informal observations. These included walking, picking up a handbag and how the claimant was dressed.

67% said those observations did not reflect how their MS really affects them or how their condition fluctuates.

Please let us know your experiences of being observed by PIP assessors.

 

NO MORE CLAIMANTS TO BE CONTACTED ABOUT ESA UNDERPAYMENTS
The DWP have begun reassessing every one of the 600,000 claimants who they believe may be eligible for a back-payment of ESA.

The underpayments came about because the DWP failed to award income-related ESA to many thousands of claimants who were transferred from incapacity benefit to contribution-based ESA from 2011 onwards.

581,000 out of 600,000 affected claimants have now had their assessment completed.

In total £589 million has been paid out so far, with payments averaging £5,000 per claimant.

The DWP say that an undisclosed number of claimants did not respond to multiple attempts to contact them over an eight week period and so their cases were closed.

If those claimants do subsequently get in touch their case will be reopened.

If you believe that you missed out on payment of premiums such as the enhanced disability premium when you were transferred from IB to ESA and you have not been contacted by the DWP you should get advice or contact the DWP directly.

 

192,000 CLAIMANTS MAY HAVE HAD PIP CLAIM UNLAWFULLY STOPPED
An upper tribunal judge has found that letters sent to claimants by Atos did not make it clear that failure to attend an assessment without good reason would definitely result in their PIP claim ending.

Up to 192,000 claimants may have had their PIP unlawfully stopped because they did not attend an assessment.

The letter from Atos said:

“It is important that you attend this appointment. If you fail to attend without good reason the decision maker at the Department for Work and Pensions is likely to disallow your claim.

The judge found that this was inadequate because it only said that the decision maker was ‘likely’ to disallow your claim. Instead, the judge ruled that the letter should have said something like:

“You must attend this appointment. If you fail to attend without good reason the decision maker at the Department for Work and Pensions will disallow your claim.”

We should stress that this absolutely does not mean that you can simply fail to attend an assessment without fear of consequences.

But it does mean that if you are refused PIP because of failure to attend an assessment without good cause then, depending on the precise wording of the letter, you should seek advice because you may be able to get the decision overturned.

 

COMPLAINTS ABOUT ATOS RISE, BUT ICE TAKES A YEAR TO EVEN START INVESTIGATIONS
The percentage of claimants who make a complaint about Atos PIP assessments has almost doubled over the past four years, rising from 0.49 to 0.91. The total number of complaints in 2019 was 6,140.

Figures for Capita were not given in the minister’s response.

Claimants who are unhappy with the response by Atos can complain to the Independent Complaints Examiner (ICE).

However, figures released by ICE reveal that it is currently taking 59 weeks just to begin investigating a complaint about the DWP or the companies who work for it, including Atos, Capita and Maximus.

It then takes an average of a further 23 weeks to complete its investigation.

You can only complain to ICE after you have exhausted the complaints procedure of the body you are unhappy with.

Which means it could easily take two years for a complaint to reach its conclusion.

And that’s before you go on to complain to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, if you are still unhappy with the outcome.

 

ANOTHER CLAIMANT STARVES TO DEATH
John Pring’s Disability News Service has uncovered another shocking death by starvation of a vulnerable claimant whose ESA was stopped.

Errol Graham, 57, had a history of serious mental health issues which had led to his being sectioned in the past.

He had been in receipt of benefits for many years because his condition meant he could not work.

In August 2017 he failed to attend a work capability assessment.

The DWP made two home visits to Errol but got no response.

They then stopped his ESA in October 2017 and made no attempt to contact social services or any other agency, in spite of the fact that he was now a vulnerable claimant with no means of support.

The only people who came to his door were the bailiffs in June 2018, when they broke it down to evict him from his council flat for non-payment of rent.

But when they got inside they found the emaciated body of Errol, who had died weighing just four and a half stone.

The DWP hired one of the country’s leading barristers to represent them at the inquest. Errol’s family couldn’t afford any legal representation at all and could not get legal aid

A review of safeguarding procedures that the DWP promised at the inquest would be completed last Autumn has still not appeared.

Instead the DWP has yet again managed to con a coroner and wriggle out of its responsibility to keep claimants safe.

Good Luck,

Steve Donnison

 

Great ESA & PIP outcome
“After nearly two years and going through the system, with a PIP exam, then a mandatory consideration, then a Tribunal Appeal, finally won Standard care and mobility and ESA severe disability premium, both backdated for length of claim. Govt. seem oblivious to real need and just do not care about genuinely disabled people. Thankyou for a brilliant website.”

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PIP CLAIMS TRAINING DAY
Thursday 27 February, Birmingham

“Excellent course. Feel more confident in completing PIP forms.” Andy Smith, Futures Housing

“Really enjoyable course and trainer.” Maria Taylor, Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Trust

“Covered everything I needed to know.” Paula Halkic, Lancs & Morecambe MS Society

Get more details and download a booking form.

 

BENEFITS NEWS
Another claimant starves to death after benefits stopped
A vulnerable claimant starved to death after having his ESA stopped, Disability News Service has revealed.

Are bogus observations being used to refuse PIP awards?
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.

192,000 claimants may have had PIP claim unlawfully stopped
Up to 192,000 claimants may have had their PIP claim unlawfully stopped because letters sent out did not make it clear that failure to attend an assessment without good reason would definitely result in their claim ending.

Complaints about ATOS on the rise
The percentage of claimants who complain about ATOS (now known as IAS) has risen over the last 12 months and almost doubled in the course of the last four years.

Claimants wait over a year for ICE to even begin investigations into DWP
Claimants who complain to the Independent Complaints Examiner (ICE) about the DWP are having to wait on average over a year before their case is even looked at, it was revealed last week.

No more claimants to be contacted about ESA underpayments
The DWP say that they have begun reassessing every one of the 600,000 claimants who may be eligible for a back-payment of employment and support allowance (ESA).

5,000 ESA claimants died before arrears were paid
5,000 ESA claimants spent their last years struggling on inadequate benefits and died before they could be reimbursed, according to figures released by the DWP last week.

 

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.

DLA to PIP award
“First and foremost a huge thank you for the guides. I have just moved from DLA to PIP with the same enhanced mobility and care… This is my 3rd success with using the guides and I know I could not do it without them, so thank you! ”

PIP upgraded on MR
“Just wish to thank you for all the assistance. Sent in Mandatory Reconsideration and was awarded enhanced for both PIP activities having originally been awarded standard rate for both.”

DLA to PIP result
“Hi Benefitsandwork. After 5years of fretting I Just wanted to say I got my result today of Enhanced care and mobility components of PIP, with light touch review at 10 years, and it’s all thanks to your fantastic members guides and this amazing site. I can highly recommend this site to everyone needing help. Thankyou so much” 

PIP success
“Enhanced daily care awarded ongoing to 2029. Whilst I should qualify for lower mobility I feel this has to be considered a success given the state of the benefits system today. My wishes go out to all those battling the system. I'm eternally grateful to the moderators of this forum for their tireless support, of all people with disabilities and health issues.”

ESA success!
“Hi, after 5 weeks of waiting for a decision I finally got my envelope today and they’ve kept me in the support group! So thank you to benefits and work, your help is invaluable.”

PIP award
“I'm over the moon, first time I have applied for pip and wasn't expecting a good result. I suffer from profound deafness and tinnitus 24/7, waiting for a date to have a Cochlear implant fitted, plus arthritis in hips, knees and hands. The assessed ame to my home to do the assessment and 3weeks later I have been awarded enhanced rate on both components. I just want to say to anyone suffering from deafness/tinnitus please apply for pip, I didn't think I would have a chance and am still so grateful for receiving the awards I have been given. Thank you for all the help in your guides, I didn't have any help with filling the forms in, I just carefully read your guides and followed the advice in them. Huge thank you.”

PIP success
“Thank you for the information and support on this site. After a long assessment process (having to prove my identity twice and the DWP losing my original phone application) I received a decision of enhanced for both care and mobility on an ongoing basis for both. Although this is justified I feel extraordinarily fortunate and so relieved as I had prepared myself for a long drawn out appeal process... Once again, thank you and I have been passing on information about this site to professionals and those working with likely PIP applicants.”

PIP Decision
“Hello I would just like to thank you for all your help and fantastic guides on here. My daughter has who is 16 was on DLA from the age of 7 she always had HRC and LM. Last year on renewal her claim was awarded as nil even though there had been not improvement whatsoever in her. On a MR I managed to change that to MRC and LM....if only I had known about this website then! She has just been awarded High rate mobility and Enhanced care PIP…Thank you”

DLA to PIP success
“Thank you to everyone to do with this site. Due to the information and guides I had a smooth transition from DLA to PIP. I didn’t need a medical just an over the phone chat which was nerve wracking enough as I hate the phone due to anxiety. I was dreading the whole process and thought I would lose my benefit which was stressful. So thank you.

PIP success
“Not sure if this is the correct place to post. However, I wanted to say thankyou. Received Pip standard care and mobility , both for ten years. I initially received only care after my assessment, and asked for a mandatory reconsideration on the mobility. I am so relieved , And it was largely due to the support, encouragement, and knowledge willingly shared by you all at benefits and work. You are fantastic and deserve gold stars and praise.”

ESA assessment
“A huge thank you to every one at Benefitsandwork. Although I thought I knew the system inside out, I used your excellent guides and passed my recent esa assessment. I have been retained in the support group and my relief is indescribable. Last time I was assessed, I was given zero points and had an 8 month fight to tribunal , to get my esa reinstated in the support group... I was given zero points by a retired asthma nurse who knew nothing about my condition and that was inspite of overwhelming medical evidence from my highly respected specialist. Thankfully I had a specialist on the panel for my tribunal. This time I was assessed by a very efficient young doctor. He asked none of the insulting questions that so many of us get asked, stuck solely to my condition and how it affected me daily and was extremely fair. Maybe I just got lucky but I know the guides were also totally invaluable. Thank you all so much once again. It's encouraged me to apply for Pips, which I've continually been told I should apply for but have been too scared to. My confidence has increased so much with your help. Thank you”

DLA to PIP success at MR
“Thrilled today to receive MR decision letter detailing Enhanced awards on both Daily Living and Mobility for Ongoing Period. Has been a hard slog. Took x2 face to face assessments the first in late July resulting in 2 points only for daily living, Zero for mobility. I complained formally to Capita directly after the assessment for the exceedingly poor report and inexperienced, incompetent Assessor.. my GP supporting letter made it clear the first Assessment was incomplete and the HCP at Capita who viewed my additional evidence confirmed this. Communication was poor and I was stuck in the middle of it. So I requested my choice of venue for the second assessment, my local Capita clinic 4 miles away and made it clear I wanted an experienced Assessor preferably a Registered Nurse, Both requests were granted…I went with trepidation along with husband, we knew what to expect this time. The difference was staggering, this Assessor was kind, empathetic, experienced, knowledgable and professional . She had to pick apart the first report. Much had been omitted the first time. We were there for 90 minutes. It was intimated I was not to worry and she wished me well. This has restored my faith in the system somewhat and proves it is worth making a formal complaint if you have good grounds to do so. Thanks for your advice to complain and for the excellent guides which makes horrible form filling in a tad more doable.”

ESA great news
“sent my esa50 renewal back about 14 weeks ago and just got decision letter still in support group without a medical. used the guides and sent supporting letters and brilliant outcome”

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: 83627

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

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