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PIP telephone appeal success
“Hi good people, Just want to share the fabulous news. Appeal was on Tuesday and received the decision today. Went from Standard to Enhanced for both. Am feeling quite lightheaded! Watching the Webinar around the 'going out' mobility descriptor, before the appeal, was really helpful. Enabled me to focus on mental health aspects which, on appeal, went from 0 to 12. So grateful to all on this site. Keep going, it's worth it.”

USE YOUR 20% OFF ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP COUPON BEFORE MIDNIGHT FRIDAY: 84873

 

Dear Reader

In this edition we reveal that the DWP have sent out up to a million letters to try to mislead and frighten claimants into accepting a decision that they are not entitled to thousands of pounds of PIP arrears.

We highlight the attempts to claw back historic tax credit overpayments from half a million universal credit claimants, even though the error was not their fault.

We applaud the claimant who used Google Maps to get a tribunal decision overturned.

We ask you to consider completing campaigning charity Z2K’s disability assessments survey.

We offer six readers the opportunity to take part in free coaching sessions with Benefits and Work’s own Holiday Whitehead.

And, for the final time before the booking deadline, we remind you that there are places available on our Mental Health Awareness Training day next month.

 

DWP SENDS A MILLION MISLEADING LETTERS TO PREVENT PIP BACK PAY
In the last newsletter we highlighted the fact that up to 150,000 PIP claimants may be missing out on arrears amounting to up to £12,000 each, if they experience overwhelming psychological distress when undertaking a journey.

In this edition we publish the results of over 300 responses to our survey on the LEAP project, which is supposed to be checking every PIP claim to make sure that everyone entitled to arrears gets them.

The results suggest that the DWP has rigged the LEAP review in every way it can to prevent paying out.

We also look in great detail at the letter which around one million PIP claimants should have received on the subject, though there is a question mark over how many have actually been sent.

We have so far seen just four full copies of the letter.

Each one is almost identical and includes no information specific to the recipient or their condition.

They appear to be computer generated, standard form letters communicating a decision made not by a human, but by an algorithm.

They are almost certainly unlawful.

But they almost certainly do the job they were designed for.

To confuse and scare claimants into asking no questions.

The letters start out by telling the recipient in large letters:

“Changes in PIP law – we have looked again at your PIP and it has not changed.”

Many claimants are thrown into a state of panic whenever they get a brown envelope from the DWP. It may take them days to pluck up the courage to open it.

The incredible relief at reading that although your claim has been looked at nothing has changed, in large letters at the very top, may be all that many claimants register before throwing the letter away.

Nowhere in the letter does it explain that the changes in PIP law could only have led to you getting more money, never less.

And nowhere in the letter does it explain what the changes are or why they don’t apply to you.

Even the right to challenge the decision is hidden away on a separate page, after the signature, amongst other generic information on benefits.

And our survey tells us that these tactics have worked.

Many people who received the letter didn’t understand what it was about.

“Didn’t know what the letter meant until I’ve read this news letter.”

Many didn’t realise they could challenge it.

“I thought that they made a decision and that was that.”

“I took the DWPs decision for granted and thought it was correct. Having second thoughts now having seen your article. I think I've been a fool.”

Others were too intimidated to challenge:

“Was frightened I would lose my award entirely if I challenged them.”

“I was afraid they would take away all my money.”

People who knew about the LEAP review and wrote asking to have their award looked at have had no response.

“I cannot understand why I have had no response. My letters were sent recorded delivery and the last was 3 months ago Not to get any response means I cannot even challenge anything.”

People who telephoned were fobbed off:

“I didn't receive a letter but rang DWP, they told me my claim had been looked at but there would be no change.”

“I called the DWP re. the review of all cases and have been told that I have to wait until they get round to me.”

We think there is a strong possibility that this whole review process, including the way claimants have been notified, is unlawful.

And we’re not going to let it drop.

We’ve made Freedom of Information requests to find out more, we’re working on resources to help members request back payments.

And we are doing our best to spread the word. If you can help make people aware of this shady operation by the DWP, please do.

Because ultimately, it will take much more influential organisations than ours to right this wrong.

 

UC CLAIMANTS HIT WITH HISTORIC OVERPAYMENT BILLS
Around 50,000 new households a week are being hit with demands to repay overpayments of tax credits dating back up to seventeen years.

As many as half a million households are now having their universal credit cut as a result of the drive by HMRC to recover historic debts.

These are overwhelmingly due to failures on their own part to calculate the correct amount of tax credit due in the past.

HMRC has been trawling through records dating back to 2003 to identify errors.

Demands for repayment ranging from as little as £5 to many thousands of pounds are being sent out whilst families struggle to cope with the effects of the pandemic on their income.

Meanwhile, as we have just seen, the DWP is doing everything it can to avoid repaying money it owes to claimants.

 

CLAIMANT OVERTURNS APPEAL TRIBUNAL USING GOOGLE MAPS
A claimant represented by the London Irish Centre has succeeded in getting a first-tier tribunal decision overturned at the upper tribunal, by submitting evidence about the distance from his home to a bus stop using Google Maps.

The tribunal had calculated the distance as 310-390 metres.

But the claimant’s representative used Google Maps to show the distance was just 140 metres and even gave the precise level of incline.

It was enough to convince the upper tribunal, which does not normally accept new factual evidence, to overturn the first-tier tribunal.

 

SHARE YOUR ASSESSMENT EXPERIENCE WITH Z2K
Campaigning anti-poverty charity Z2K is asking claimants to share their experience of disability benefits assessments, as they try to put pressure on the government to make changes.

Readers may remember Z2K as the charity that reported the DWP to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over its fake news items on universal credit. The ASA subsequently found against the DWP and they have not repeated that particular form of deception.

Now Z2K is trying to put pressure on the government to get on with their long-delayed Health and Disability Green Paper, which is supposed to be looking at how to improve support for people on disability benefits.

Z2K wants you to tell them about your experiences of PIP assessments and work capability assessments to help them explain where benefits assessments need to be changed and why the Green Paper is urgent.

The closing date for taking part in the survey is 28 April.

 

FREE COACHING
As well as helping to run Benefits and Work, for over 7 years Holiday Whitehead has been practising as a counsellor working with parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Holi tells us:

“I initially set up a service working with an adoption agency to offer much needed support to struggling adopters, but I now work solely as a freelance counsellor.

“I have recently begun a coaching qualification to widen the services I am able to offer clients.

“As part of my qualification I am required to complete 50 practice hours with ‘real’ clients.

“I am therefore offering up to 10 free sessions to anyone who:

· has an issue in their life that they would like to tackle and improve;

· has set themselves a goal but is having difficulty getting started or completing the goal;

· is struggling with an aspect of their life that they need support to begin to deal with.

“The sessions are free, by telephone or video call and will usually take place weekly for 50 minutes.”

If you would like to apply to take part, please complete this brief survey

 

LAST CHANCE TO BOOK
MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS TRAINING, 12 MAY.

‘I thoroughly enjoyed the course, Laura is an excellent trainer, she kept it interesting all the way through, she is very approachable which makes it easier to participate.'

To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, Benefits and Work is running a 4 hour Zoom Mental Health Awareness training day.

Full of useful hints and tips, the course will give you the confidence to support someone in distress and is an ideal starting point for raising mental health awareness in your organisation.

Please note: because hard copies of the workbook and handbook have to be mailed out to participants, the final date for bookings is 28 April, so this course will not appear in the next newsletter.

Our trainer, Laura Morell has recorded a brief video to tell you more about the training and who might benefit.

Laura is a National trainer for many leading organisations in the advice sector and is a qualified Mental Health First Aid Instructor and Education and Learning practitioner.

Further details and booking from this page.

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.

Just type the following code into the coupon box when you pay: 84873

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 sends a million misleading letters to prevent PIP back pay

Campaigning charity Z2K asks for your views

GPs to prescribe benefits and debt advice in pilot project

How the DWP has rigged the LEAP review system to deprive PIP claimants

Claimant overturns PIP appeal tribunal decision using Google Maps

UC claimants hit with historic overpayment bills

 

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
“My Wifes PIP decision has just arrived she has been awarded enhanced rate in both. we are over the moon”

PIP result
“Hi everyone, Completed and returned the dreaded PIP review form and had a super speedy result. Posted the form first class recorded on the 6th of March and it arrived on the 8th. A letter was sent out on the 9th of the decision to award me the same standard rate I have been on for mobility and I've been awarded the enhanced rate for daily living. I was previously on the lower rate for daily living. I haven't recieved my letter yet. An amount of 30 odd pounds was in my bank account from PIP this morning so I telephoned DWP/PIP and was told over the phone. This has taken away so much anxiety of the dreaded brown envelope. I will have a closer look at scores etc when the letter does arrive, last time I was just one point away from higher rate mobility but decided not to pursue a MR as the anxiety of it would have been too much. Lastly, a big thank you as always to this site, the moderators and contributors who all do an amazing job with the resources. Thank you. Best of luck to everyone awaiting their decisions x”

PIP reassessment
“Hi I’ve just received my dreaded brown envelope for my reassessment claim and I’ve gone from standard to enhanced pip and still have enhanced mobility rate. As it states ongoing I assume it’s for 10 years is that correct. I’m happy with the results but why do I feel guilty in claiming this money (which is needed) I have worked all my life and forced into retirement 3yrs early with severe arthritis in my arms,hands ,legs &knees . I like to thank benefits and work for helping my claim with downloading information. I will continue to support you with my membership.”

Thank you!
“Hi Guys.. I just wanted to say thank you to all for all the information and help that you give on this site. It’s invaluable. Having used the guides and help from you all you guided me through the ESA process / minefield as I’ve never claimed before. I was able to claim contributions ESA and after assessment put in the support group. You guys made it a lot less stressful so a HUUGGGGEEEEE THANK YoU. Your own time that you give on here is so much appreciated”

WOW I have been awarded the Enhanced rate for both components
“I recently, like many others, had a letter to say that my PIP had been extended until the end of this year. This was closely followed by a 47 page document asking me to update the DWP to make sure that I’m getting the right help! I had already lost my Motability car two years ago when they reduced my mobility component down to just 2 points short of keeping it. I should have appealed it but after the terrible face to face with someone who clearly wasn’t listening, I couldn’t face another debacle! I have been reading emails from your site about claimants who have successfully negotiated their claims because of your advice so I paid my subscription and read your advice then sent off the paperwork.
I received the decision today - WOW I have been awarded the Enhanced rate for both components and it’s been awarded for ten years. Thank you so much,”
Jim

Thanks for your excellent guide
“I received my PIP review documents on 18th Feb and to be returned by 15th March. I wasn’t expecting them so early as I had had a letter before Christmas extending my claim to Jan 2022. I completed the form following your guide and returned the form by guaranteed delivery for the DWP to receive on Friday 5th March. I wanted to ensure they had my completed review form on time.
I had a phone call from a lady at the DWP on Tuesday 16th March with one query on my completed form, which I was able to answer. Today Monday 22nd March I had my brown envelope with my PIP renewed until September 2023. I hope I will have reached my 66th birthday before my next review. I can’t believe that from start to finish it has taken less than 6 weeks.
Thanks for your excellent guide and keep up the good work.”
Gillian

This has so relieved the stress for my daughter
“Need to say a huge thank you for the very informative advice from Benefits and Work regarding PIP.
I have been a member for about 3 years and never has so little money been spent on such a worthwhile cause.
My daughter of 26 has ME and Trigeminal Neuralgia among other issues. Using your advice and information I applied for PIP on her behalf and sent all the relevant documentation as well as a detailed letter from myself. She received an appointment for a telephone assessment on 22nd March. I read all your new information and sat with my daughter during the assessment. I kept telling my daughter that they are not your friend. Although the lady who carried out the assessment was lovely and allowed my daughter a half hour break in between the assessment.
Two weeks later my daughter received a phone call from DWP saying that she had been granted enhanced for both daily living and motability. This has so relieved the stress for my daughter.
We could not have done it without you. Thank you so very much for all the hard work you do.
With much gratitude and appreciation.”
Deborah

 

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: 84873

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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