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PIP success
“Hi I received a phone call this afternoon from the DWP relating to my PIP tribunal. After been turn down for both living and mobility I have been awarded standard living and enhance mobility. I am elated and like to thank this site as I know I wouldn't have achieve this result without it. Thank you.”

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Dear Reader,

In this edition we discover how an upper tribunal judge thwarted shameless attempts by the DWP to rely on the report of an utterly discredited Capita PIP assessor

We learn how the Independent Case Examiner is upholding only a tiny proportion of complaints against Atos and Capita.

And we describe the Scottish disability benefits system that will be the envy of claimants in the rest of the UK and fill Atos and Capita with forebodings of doom.

Plus, we have news of places on our 18 November training for professionals who want to ensure their service users give vital PIP mobility evidence that Atos and Capita assessors will probably never ask for.

 

JUDGE HALTS USE OF DISCREDITED ASSESSORS REPORT
An upper tribunal judge prevented attempts by the DWP to rely on evidence of a disgraced Capita assessor who said on one occasion that he had completed an assessment on a claimant before they had even walked through the door and also boasted of earning £20,000 a month.

Alan Barham was discredited by the Channel 4 Dispatches programme, following undercover reporting in 2016.

Barham told the undercover reporter:

The money? It was ridiculous. I was getting around 20 grand a month, most months.

They’d pay around £80 an assessment for the first 8 assessments, then they paid £160 an assessment for 8-14, then they paid £300 per assessment for 14-21. . . we was flying through them, because of that money. That’s 20 grand a month.”

In relation to a claimant who had had a leg amputated, Barham said:

“I’d literally finished his assessment before I’d even walked through the door. I’d done it on Saturday. Cos the informal observations with only one leg…”

Yet even though Capita dismissed Barham and he was found guilty of misconduct by a professional standards tribunal in 2017, the DWP still went to an upper tribunal hearing and argued that his evidence should be relied upon.

In the case in question, the claimant went from the higher rate of both components of DLA to no award of PIP, based on an assessment by Barham. On appeal to the first tier the claimant was awarded standard rate daily living only.

The claimant appealed to the upper tribunal.

The DWP then produced a new assessment report dated 2017, which was paper-based but still based in part on the original report produced by Barham.

The judge was having none of it, saying that was not good enough, because the criticisms of Mr Barham meant that his purported observations and purported examination could not be relied upon.

The judge also refused to send the issue back to a new hearing, saying that there was a wealth of other medical evidence in the papers that would allow a decision to be made.

In the end the DWP and the claimant reached an agreement which led to the award of the enhanced mobility component of PIP as well as the standard rate of daily living.

But there was never any admission from the DWP that they should have binned the dodgy medical report from the outset.

 

ICE FAILS CLAIMANTS
The Independent Case Examiner (ICE) is failing to adequately defend claimants who seek its help in trying to prevent unfair practices by benefits assessors.

ICE fully upheld complaints against PIP and ESA/UC assessment providers in just a dismal 6% of the cases it investigated, according to its latest annual report.

ICE examines complaints from the public after they have already fully exhausted the complaints procedures of the DWP or companies such as Atos or Capita.

The process can take many months and be emotionally gruelling for the claimant. It is not something anyone undertakes lightly.

Yet out of 206 investigations into assessment providers:

only 13 (6%) of complaints were upheld

31 (15%) were partially upheld

162 (79%) were not upheld at all.

In relation to complaints about assessment providers, ICE said dismissivelythat many follow an unfavourable benefit entitlement decision, as if these cases were just sour grapes rather than genuine outrage and distress at unfair treatment.

The report goes on to say that In others in which an appeal is subsequently upheld I often explain that this doesn’t mean the original decision was maladministrative.

It almost sounds as if ICE thinks claimants are just not intelligent enough to understand how the system works or what constitutes a flawed and dishonest report.

Just to hammer the point home, ICE concludes:

“The majority of complaints are about the content of the assessment report, usually about perceived errors and inaccuracies. However on the whole, such complaints generally stem from a difference of opinion with the Healthcare Professional writing the report, and don’t change the outcome of the assessment.”

But it isn’t merely a difference of opinion if the health professional claims you said or did things that you didn’t say or do, fails to ask questions that would produce an accurate report or shuts you down each time you try to give a detailed answer.

It’s a gross failure to live up to professional standards.

Even where ice upholds complaints, the sanctions imposed are so tiny as to be insulting.

In one example, the assessment provider allowed CCTV evidence that could have proved the claimant’s assertions to be destroyed by time wasting, taking over 7 months to respond to a complaint.

They were instructed to make just a “consolatory payment” of £150 to the claimant.

With this level of sanction, assessment providers have absolutely no reason to fear ICE and no reason whatsoever to improve the service they provide.

 

SCOTTISH DISABILITY BENEFITS SYSTEM UNVEILED
Claimants in Scotland are set to have a very much improved experience of claiming disability benefits when a new system, delayed by the pandemic, is introduced.

And it’s one which will not involve Atos or Capita.

The Scottish government has released details of how its new system for claiming child DLA, PIP and attendance allowance will work.

Claimants will be able to choose whether to claim by post, online, by phone, or through face-to-face contact with staff.

Claimants who, because of a disability, need help with claiming will be entitled to the help of an independent advocacy worker.

An assessment with a health provider will only happen as a last resort.

And assessments will all be in-house. There will be no place for Atos, Capita or any other private sector company in the Scottish system.

Even if there is an assessment, there will be no physical function examination at all, as the Scottish government considers that this can only provide an unreliable snapshot of how a claimant is affected.

All awards will be ongoing with no end date and reviews will, according to the government, be ‘light touch and as non-intrusive as possible’.

Where a claimant challenges a decision to stop or reduce their benefit they will receive ‘Short Term Assistance’ payments equal to the money they have lost, until their appeal is decided. And even if they lose they will not have to pay the money back.

If the Scottish claims system is as described here, then the pressure will grow on the DWP to follow suit.

And the day may actually dawn across the whole of the UK on which claimants will be freed from shamelessly unfair assessments with profit at their heart.

 

PLACES AVAILABLE ON FANTASTIC ZOOM PIP MOBILITY TRAINING, 18 NOVEMBER
Fantastic, really informative full of great pointers and enjoyable.

Samantha, Notts YMCA

Best course done in ages. Made a complicated topic really clear.
Emily, Thalidomide Trust

We have spaces on the Zoom course for professionals, Making the Best Possible PIP Mobility Claims On Mental Health Grounds: Wednesday 18 November.

If you are a housing worker, advice worker or anyone who assists service users with PIP claims

based on mental health, this course could make a real difference to the support you give.

We explain how to provide detailed, accurate and persuasive evidence that demonstrates any entitlement to points for the activity ‘Planning and Following Journeys’. Probably the most complex activity in the whole PIP assessment and one that assessors and decision makers often get wrong.

The course contains a wealth of practical tips and useful examples that could make the difference between no award and the enhanced rate of the mobility component.

Buy tickets for 18 November

Good Luck,

Steve Donnison

 

BOOST YOUR PIP, UC AND ESA CHANCES - 20% OFF ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP – OFFER ENDS MIDNIGHT FRIDAY.

Give yourself the best possible chance of getting the right PIP, UC or ESA 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.

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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

DWP slammed by judge for trying to rely on evidence of disgraced Capita assessor

Scottish disability benefits system to be envy of UK and threat to private providers

Independent Case Examiner fails claimants

FEEDBACK FROM THE FORUM AND BY EMAIL

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. For some people, it’s the only thing that keeps them going through a difficult claim or appeal.


PIP success
“Thanks to B&W and my PIP for finally coming through, I can actually start looking to the future and plan ahead. I still cannot describe how grateful I am.”

Transfer DLA to PIP success – no assessment!
“Just wanted to share my successful renewal story, couldn’t have done it without all the great advice on here. I have bipolar and used to get mid rate care and low rate mobility under DLA (indefinite award). Got transferred to PIP in 2018 (just after leaving hospital having been sectioned) and got enhanced care but no mobility award. Renewal came through about 6 wks ago and I have felt sick with anxiety and fear ever since. Just got the dreaded brown envelope and much to my surprise have been reawarded enhanced care PLUS low rate mobility this time, didn’t have to endure a phone or face to face assessment which I was dreading so much it made me quite ill. Only annoying thing is award is only for 2 years (why do they do this to permanent illnesses/disabilities?). Definitely a win overall though, thanks to this site for all the good advice and I hope more of us start to get positive outcomes without intrusive and stressful assessment appointments.”

DLA to PIP award
“Thank you for all your help & advice. I have now successfully transferred to pip . Enhance rate for both for ongoing period. I will be 73 in 10 years time so hopefully just a light touch review.
Please everyone get a copy of your report before a decision is made. I had time to write & send medical evidence before the decision was made. Going with the report I would have received low care & nothing for mob. I took your advice not to focus on health advisor report but to concentrate on how my disability effects me. I have just renewed my subscription & will continue to help keep this wonderful site. Thank you again”


DLA to PIP success
“I was on Dla High rate for both Indefinate award. I was told to apply for pip as i moved house before Covid 19 I followed your guide filled in form, got letter from doctor supporting my illness how it affects me. I asked for home visit they agreed but due to covid 19 they then said i have to have telephone assessement. A nurse called me she said this was her first assessment, she said straight away that she will request I get Ongoing rate due to my condition as there is no cure, I was so surprised. She was amazing I felt relaxed, she went through every single question on Pip form in wrong order i answered everything exactly the same it took about 1 hour. She said again at the end she will request ongoing enhanced rate but the end decision is not hers. About 1 month later I received my letter I waa awarded Ongoing rate, Enhanced rate for Mobility and Care so just a light touch assesment every 10 years. I was soooo happy I was under so much stress filling in form I asked for 3 extensions for me to return it. So I just want to say thank you and that was money well spent worth every penny for the members guide.”

Don’t give up – PIP success
“DLA to pip telephone assessment in April, requested copy of report, many lies, informed dwp but still awarded 0 points in both categories, left devastated. Spent long time filling in mandatory reconsideration, just received letter 10 points std rate daily living and 10 points moving around std rate mobility, great relief. I now have to decide whether to appeal for extra 2 points to keep motability car, but fear losing points as well. Please do not give up if you feel totally let down by system it is worth pursuing!!”

Won appeal
“Hi i would like to thank everybody for the advice they have given me I have now been put back on the enhanced rate of pip I had telephone assessment and they dropped me down to standard rate of daily Living allowance due to your advice and help from my support worker I won my appeal . . . I will be renewing my membership at end of this month so I hope people will appeal if they think the decision is wrong and a BIG THANKS to everyone on this site”

PIP award
“Just had a phone call regarding my PIP application and I have been awarded standard rate Daily care component. I made the application for PIP Las October. I had to ask for a mandatory reconsideration, as I was turned down. I don't know what surprised me more, the award or the lovely lady at DWP phoning me back this morning to let me know what the decision was! Thank you to Benefits and work, as I followed your guidance and I was able to challenge the original decision.”

PIP Appeal success
“I have been awarded basic PIP and I am very pleased as I went from 0 points for my initial claim to 11 in my appeal. I included a lot of consultant letters from my regular hospital check ups and a supporting GP letter. I had a very quick telephone call from a pleasant chap from the DWP just to clarify certain things on my appeal paperwork. Excellent outcome I could not be more relieved. Thank you.”

wonderful online support, webinars and information
Thank you all so much for the wonderful online support, webinars and information regarding PIP. I applied in January and, with your site’s help, I self completed all the relevant forms and then had a telephone assessment 3 weeks ago. I have just received notification that I have been awarded enhanced rates for both daily living and mobility until December 2022. This has been backdated so I’ve had a lovely surprise appear in my bank account. I would never have had the confidence to complete the forms and participate in the near 2 hr telephone assessment had it not been for your help.
Sarah

I am so grateful for all the information you provide
It was with great trepidation I opened a brown envelope from DWP. My PIP assessment was not due until August 2021 so when I saw the first sentence about a review to check I was receiving the correct amount my stomach churned, I began to quake in terror. The visions I had of medicals, of not being listened to, of going to a tribunal and seeking mandatory reconsideration, the feelings and the stress all came flooding back.

It took me awhile to compose myself and to unfold the letter. I had to read the letter a couple of times. Enhanced daily living and enhanced mobility to continue on an ongoing basis!

I still can't believe it. No assessment. No form filling. No requesting even more medical evidence.

I am so grateful for all the information you provide and will continue my annual subscription so you can continue such informative and helpful advice. Thank you so much.

Eva

thank you so much for your guides
We just wanted to thank you so much for your guides. I have completed a PIP review form back last October, been to a face to face appointment in January. Applied for mandatory reconsideration in February, with no change, and then had to lodge an appeal in July - all with the help of your guides. With great relief and exhaustion, we are able to say that the DWP reviewed my case again in August and agreed with everything we had indicated. I now have PIP Enhanced Daily Living and Mobility. Thank you.

Isobel

 

BOOST YOUR PIP, UC AND ESA CHANCES - 20% OFF ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP – OFFER ENDS MIDNIGHT FRIDAY.
Give yourself the best possible chance of getting the right PIP, UC or ESA 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: 26439

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. 59626666