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Dear Reader,

In this update we reveal that in many cases PIP award extension letters are being rapidly followed by review forms to complete.

We deplore the DWP’s denial that disabled claimants need more financial help because of the pandemic, in spite of the mounting evidence.

We highlight a new PIP decision that will allow claimants with apparently good literacy and numeracy to still be awarded points for reading and budgeting.

And we tell you about the heart-breaking call to the DWP by Philippa Day that DWP lawyers didn’t want anyone to hear.

 

PIP EXTENSION LETTERS CLOSELY FOLLOWED BY REVIEW FORMS
The flood of PIP award extension letters we highlighted in the last newsletter is being followed, sometimes within days or weeks, by review forms for some claimants.

Members have been getting in touch and telling us things like:

I received the same letter in November last year, but in December I received a further letter and the review forms which had to be completed and returned!!

Or:

I had the same letter in December 2020 extending to December 2021 so heaved a huge sigh of relief as this comes in every 2.5 years usually having a month to fill out over Christmas. I received a smaller form to update my conditions and can't believe it's due in 3 weeks when my original PIP didn't end till May 2021.

Others claimants have received extension letters which wrongly reduce the length of the award.

I know other people have been receiving PIP extension letters. I have now received one, with an extension date of July 2023. However this extension date is sooner than the actual award length expiry date.

And one member has warned of issues with Motability vehicles.

There's a sting in the tail with these letters though. Anyone with a Blue Badge will have to re-apply for the badge and entitlement to that new badge will end at the same time as the extended PIP date. My motability car is also due for replacement but can't be because the extension doesn't cover a three year period. Whilst not having to worry about PIP renewal applications for a few more months, this extension is not without it's own problems.

Have you had an extension letter and has it proved to be a mixed blessing? Do let us know.

 

DWP DENIES DISABLED CLAIMANTS NEED MORE HELP, DESPITE EVIDENCE
The DWP has rejected the idea that disabled claimants have incurred additional costs during the pandemic, despite mounting evidence.

A report, Pandemic Poverty, released this month by the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) found that:

82% of disabled claimants have had to spend more money than they normally would during the pandemic.

This is most commonly due to greater food shopping and utility bills, as over half (54% and 53%) of disabled claimants said these costs had increased significantly.

44% of disabled claimants are reporting being unable to meet financial commitments such as rent and household bills.

The DBC is calling on the government to renew the £20 uplift to universal credit and extend it to legacy benefits.

A separate report by the Trussell Trust, Dignity or Destitution, is also calling on the government to keep the £20 uplift when it is reviewed next month.

The report forecasts an increase in the need for food banks amongst people claiming UC with 20% of people on UC -representing 1.2 million people – saying they would ‘very likely’ turn to a food bank if they lose the £20 uplift.

When it was pointed out to DWP secretary of state, Therese Coffey, last week that disabled people have borne higher costs during the pandemic, but those on ESA and JSA have not had any extra help at all, Coffey told MPs dismissively:

“I would not say they have been treated badly . . . I am not aware specifically of extra costs that would have been unduly incurred”

Coffey also refused to say when a report into how government policy contributes to foodbank demand would be published.

It was due out in September 2019, but has been supressed ever since.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet Office is running a survey for disabled people which it says is aimed at understanding the barriers that disabled people face and what the government needs to do to improve their lives.

Follow the news links below for an opportunity to tell them exactly – though always politely - what you think the DWP ought to do.

 

PIP READING AND BUDGETING POINTS
An advice worker who is also a Benefits and Work volunteer has represented at an upper tribunal case which will allow more claimants with conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), as well as those with learning difficulties, to be awarded PIP.

The case involved the reading and budgeting activities.

The judge made a number of claimant-friendly findings, especially in relation to ensuring that tribunals and decision makers take into account whether these activities can be carried out reliably.

The judge found that reading a short sign would be almost instantaneous for people without difficulties.

This means that even a small delay in reading basic or complex written information would be enough to show that it takes more than twice as long and allow points to be scored.

Many claimants with conditions such as ASD or ADD have a high level of literacy, but may still have problems following meaning without repeated reading. They may also have difficulty retaining complex information for long enough to act upon it.

So points may be scored because reading and understanding takes them more than twice as long or because it is not done to an acceptable standard.

The judge also stressed the complexity of the budgeting descriptors, where up to five separate activities need to be taken into account.

The judge held that knowing the price of something is not the same as calculating it and that claimants must be able not only to pay bills, but also to ‘manage’ them

We’ll be updating our PIP claims guide to take account of this decision and suggest ways in which it can be used to help ensure that claimants get the correct PIP award.

 

HEART-BREAKING PHILIPPA DAY CALL THE DWP DIDN’T WANT YOU TO HEAR
A coroner has ruled that a catalogue of 28 failings by DWP and Capita and the financial stress that resulted were the ‘predominant factor’ in the death of Philippa Day.

As reported previously, Philippa took her own life after her DLA was wrongly stopped and she was required to attend a PIP face-to-face assessment, in spite of experiencing mental health issues including unstable personality disorder (EUPD), anxiety, depression and agoraphobia.

In spite of strong opposition from DWP lawyers, but with the support of Philippa’s family, the coroner released a recording of a call Philippa made to the DWP which can now be listened to online.

In the call, a clearly very distressed, sometimes crying, Philippa tells the DWP staff member she is “literally starving and cold”, “genuinely can’t survive like this for much longer”, is “in so much debt”, “literally cannot leave the house”, and needs “a reason to live”.

However, the DWP agent simply asks her if there is anyone in her family or a local charity who can help her and tells her that she needs to talk to Capita about when she will have her assessment.

No note was made on Philippa’s file of the level of distress she was in and the DWP’s six-point plan to be used when claimants express suicidal intent was not used.

The call handler told the inquest that she had heard many claimants crying and saying similar things.

The coroner is to issue a prevention of future deaths report telling the DWP to improve mental health training, record keeping and assessment processes.

Listening to the call, however, it is hard not to conclude that the first thing the DWP needs to do is introduce the tiniest scrap of humanity into its treatment of claimants.

Good Luck,

Steve Donnison

 

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BENEFITS NEWS
PIP reading and budgeting points for claimants with apparently good literacy and numeracy

PIP extension letters closely followed by review forms

Unacceptable number of PIP and AA telephone calls left unanswered

DWP denies disabled claimants need more help, despite evidence

Cabinet Office Disability Survey

Heart-breaking Philippa Day call the DWP didn’t want people to hear

Financial stress caused by DWP and Capita failings main factor in death of Philippa Day, Coroner rules

 

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 appeal result
“After having a mandatory reconsideration they declined my Mobility component to 0. I then appealed there decision to the appeals court. I didn't give any evidence I was waiting to see what the DWP declined my appeal. But today I had a shock they reviewed my case and gave me Enhanced rate of Mobility which I was a surprise not even sending in new evidence. So please if anyone gets a knock back please fight there decision. It was thanks to this site with there information what to do. That's all I can say is a big thank you.”

PIP success at Tribunal
“Having gone from 8 points to 6 at telephone review and failed MR, I had my Tribunal telephone hearing on Monday. Judge's Directions arrived today. Now in receipt of Standard Daily Living again plus Enhanced Mobility. Such a relief and all down to getting the right advice and benefits disability advocate. So relieved.”

PIP renewal award
“With this sites support I was able to complete my PIP and UC50 form. They were both renewals. I was awarded the higher rate of PIP for 3 years, my brown envelope arrived 3/4 weeks ago…Thanks”

Won PIP Tribunal for my brother
“gordon was so helpful a few months ago when i asked for some direction about my brothers tribunal for pip. he was on dla for life after a traumatic brain injury at 16, early onset alzheimers at age 45(hes 52 now)plus several brain infarcts. he had 0 points and no payments since sept 2019 (shortly after he lost his 42 yr old wife to breast cancer)but my husband and i gathered evidence and helped with case.t oday we got the letter to say a paper tribunal had taken place(90 pages) and they ruled in his favour, standard care and mobility given.he is £30 a month better off plus about £5800 back pay .i realise that dwp have 28 days but this is such a relief. iv finally posted my own pip review after taking weeks to sort it so fingers crossed. iv used this site plus kind advice from the forum admin thank you so much for your help and thank you from my brother i hope this gives people hope”

PIP award increased
“I just want to say thanks for the help and advice from this site, and all those involved assisting us with our claims. I had another review of my PIP claim ( I had been standard rate for both Daily living and Mobility) just before Christmas, and received my award this morning. Happy to say the mobility rate has been increased to the enhanced rate, and daily living remains at the standard rate, which is a fair and accurate assessment. I had always felt i should have been in the enhanced rate for mobility for years, but was far too concerned about getting nothing if i complained. All in all. it's taken four weeks from sending in my completed forms , to todays announcement, without the requirement for a telephone interview. Considering were in the middle of a pandemic, i was expecting a far longer wait. Thanks all, and don't give up.”

PIP success
“After being on the enhanced rate of PIP for 3 years I received a 36 page form to complete as my PIP was to end on January 4th 2021. With the help of an NHS worker the forms were filled in and returned on 23rd November, well before the deadline of 8th December 2020. Last Friday I received the dreaded brown letter. I was extremely anxious to open it, however, to my utter astonishment I have again been awarded PIP for the next TEN years. I could not have achieved this without all your help, advice, guides, etc. AN ABSOLUTE MASSIVE THANK YOU. Please, if anyone reads this, do NOT give up hope.”

PIP Review decision
“Today i got my decision letter from my PIP review. I am shocked how fast they did this, as I only had the phone assessment on the 11th Jan. The letter is even dated the 15th Jan! Anyway I would of been happy to keep my current rate which I was on which was stand daily living, but I have been awarded Enhanced Daily Living and Standard Mobility. Which is good…Thank you again for all your help, much appreciated.”

PIP award
“Currently receive pip enhanced rate for both it was my 1st ever claim for pip and thanks to the amazing site it went through no issues and I know it not the same for everyone so I was very grateful.”

“I recommend you to everyone”
“I am a lawyer, but I joined you when I realised my DLA award would be replaced by PIP. I occasionally volunteer as a representative at the PIP Tribunal and I am very aware of how difficult it is to appeal a poor or incorrect decision.As to myself, I have multiple health problems including MS and my bad days are terrible. However, after my wife suggested a holiday in Italy, and I found myself crying at the prospect of the pain and exhaustion of such an event, I found a new (amazing) Physiotherapist. He and I have worked really hard over the last three years to make my good days much better than they were, including walking without a stick – though still not very far. We did eventually go on a really lovely holiday in Italy before Covid.
I realised I might lose my award, as on initial sighting, on a good day you would not notice my mobility and other issues until after an hour or so when I fade into exhaustion, confusion and then fall sleep. I am not at all reconciled to the idea of early retirement which I would have to take if I lost my award. I feel like I still have a lot to give through my skills, but I simply cannot get myself up, fed, dressed and to work before the working day ends, without a lot of support.>My Access to Work assistant, my wife and I read everything we could on your site about the assessment process, from completing the application form to how to represent the reality of my disabilities in a telephone interview. I cannot express strongly enough how invaluable your site has been. I had my PIP assessment over the phone, and my Access to Work assistant sat with me, as she says I always talk too much and overestimate what I can do. I have now received a full PIP award including daily care and mobility for the next 10 years. I do not believe we could have achieved that without your help. Thank you for all you do and despite the award, I will remain a member.
I recommend you to everyone now who has to go through this horrible assessment. We have also used your site to get my very disabled sister’s award reinstated.”
Oliver

“Truly you are a Godsend”
“Just wanted to say a BIG thank you for your superb guide on PIP, especially the section on Award Reviews. I am my adult son's Legal Appointee, and was dismayed to receive an Award Review form, just a few weeks after a letter to say his PIP had been extended until October this year! This caused him much distress, as he has an ASD and ADHD and couldn't understand why they suddenly decided to change their minds! This led him to go into a meltdown!
He was very worried that the DWP would take away his money as he has read so many stories about claimants' bad experiences! Also, he doesn't live with me any more, is in a completely different part of the country, and owing to the pandemic the thought of not being able to support him in person, should he be forced to have an assessment (even telephone) as his problems with social and communication situations and severe anxiety render him incapable of doing so without a horrible outburst, sent my own stress levels through the roof!
However, thanks to your extremely clear and detailed guidance on filling out an Award Review form, I was able to get his PIP award of Enhanced Rate Care extended until 2024. Not only that, but the DWP Case Manager additionally awarded him Standard Rate Mobility, that he didn't receive before, owing to the severe mental and psychological distress he experiences with planning and following a journey, which was backed up by a letter from his previous support worker. My son is delighted!The work you do in providing such help and guidance for so many people who are at their most vulnerable, literally at the mercy of the DWP and so called "health care professionals" at Capita and ATOS, and dreading the brown envelope through their door, is absolutely invaluable. Truly you are a Godsend. So thank you so much again, from both myself, and my son.”
Emma

“your advice can make a great difference”
“Out of the blue I have received the dreaded brown envelope and as is normal for most of us in our situation I started to feel sick to my stomach and quite Ill. To my surprise and delight my award has been extended until October 2024. Although this is great news it is awful that, as with others my illness can only get worse but the upset and uncertainty of not knowing if my all important future money is secure and is at the whim of others to take away is ever present and is shocking in country such as ours. The award is down to this wonderful organisation in the first place. My niece is very Ill at the moment and I have advised her to subscribe and read before going anywhere near the DWP as we all know they cannot be trusted and your advice can make a great difference.”
Ava

 

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: 74722

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