42,000 claimants lost their PIP award in 2021 because they allegedly failed to return their AR1 PIP review form, the DWP revealed this week. This is an unexplained increase of almost 300% in just two years. 

Tom Pursglove, DWP minister for disabled people, published the figures in response to a written parliamentary question.

The figures show the number of claims disallowed each year for non-return of the AR1 review form:

  • 7,500 claims were disallowed in 2017
  • 15,800 claims were disallowed in 2018
  • 14,100 claims were disallowed in 2019
  • 25,400 claims were disallowed in 2020
  • 42,100 claims were disallowed in 2021

It is not made clear from the written answer whether non-return includes forms that were returned late.  It is also not clear how many people challenged the decision that they had failed to return their form on time.

At Benefits and Work our concern is that the number of claimants allegedly failing to return their forms seems to be increasing at an extraordinary rate, far outstripping any rises in awards that had taken place at the time.

We know that the DWP’s post handling and call management is dire and getting ever worse. It seems very possible that many disallowed claimants are returning their forms on time, but the DWP is either losing them or taking far too long before recording that they have been received.

We have no way of knowing how many of the 42,000 claimants appealed or how many simply gave up in despair, even though they knew they had returned their form on time.

Other claimants may have failed to return the review form because of the effects of a physical or mental health condition.

A tragic example of this is the case of Laura Winham, who we wrote about just last month.

Laura had schizophrenia and had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act in the past. 

In 2016, the DWP contacted Laura to say that she was being transferred from DLA to PIP and that she had to apply for PIP or her DLA would stop.

Laura failed to respond and, after several written reminders, her DLA was stopped.  In spite of Laura having a severe mental illness and very clearly being a vulnerable person, no attempt was made by the DWP to check on her wellbeing or her ability to take part in the transfer process before her money was cut off.

In May 2021, Laura’s body was discovered after her family visited to tell her of the death of her father and looked through the letterbox.  The police found her mummified and skeletal body when they forced entry.  There were unopened bills from creditors and markings on the calendar which stopped in November 2017.

One of the last ones read “I need help”.

Yet in the same written answer which revealed the number of claimants whose PIP had been stopped, the minister claimed that vulnerable claimants do not have their claim stopped for failure to return their form.

According to Pursglove, claimants with serious mental health or cognitive conditions who have difficulty communicating or engaging with the process, have their files ‘watermarked’ as Additional Support (AS), although they are not classed as vulnerable.  These claimants will be asked to attend a PIP assessment even if they fail to return their form.

Claimants who are identified as vulnerable due to their condition or their circumstances have an Additional Customer Support (ACS) watermark placed on their files.  Some claimants have both. These claimants are “afforded additional sensitivity and protection at all stages of their claim, not just at the point of disallowance for failing to return a claim form.”

We will be updatng our PIP claims and reviews guide to make readers, and support workers, aware that they may be entitled to this ‘extra sensitivity’ if they do find themselves in difficulty.  There is no reason why claimants should not make a data protection request for details of any AS or ACS watermark on their files.

We have also updated our guide to PIP claims and reviews guide to warn people of the rising number of allegedly non-returned forms and to encourage readers to take steps to protect themselves.

You can read Pursglove’s full written answer here.

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    Mr D.T · 6 months ago
    I have M.E illness and have been ill since 2006, and got diagnosed only in 2010, with medical reports from hospital, I did not recieve any help from DWP till 2019 after been living of £60 per week for nine year's struggling going to food kitchens and I went to citizen Advice over a hundread times, I failed medicals six times, they would not look at the hospitals specialist report to give to them, they then paid me PIP for just short of four years, they have now stoped it again and the illness is strong cognitive and physical strain, am now back to square won, after just stopping it and not telling me, to getting it restarted, they then, call me and then send a letter telling me I have two points with a bunch of lies, they are fucking evil bastards.
    I am so struggling to lose the finances that took some stress away from everyday worries, of a man diving in slow motion that has the energy of a phase three cancer patiant.
    Honestly they owe my £100,000 for the ten years they left me in abstract poverty.
    And am so sick of them, am just given up, they are stinkers.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Sarah Bradshaw · 8 months ago
    Did anyone else have to complete an AR1 form in Nov /Dec 2022 despite all reviews being postponed? I did but they didn't receive it. I normally send all documents to DWP recorded but because of the postal strikes I had to use a postbox for normal delivery needless to say my PIP & SDP was terminated. I queried as to why I still needed to send the AR1 back & was told its to save time so cases won't get backlogged again & will stay on a pile with all the other forms on a desk until reviews are restarted. I was shocked & horrified to his response & contacted my MP who spoke to the DWP on my behalf, I was told they'd listened to the phonecall & nothing like that was said  basically the DWP said I lied. But that's exactly what they've done because in Aug this year IAS/Atos texted saying we are managing your pip assessment & I'm due to have a video consultation on Monday. The assessor has a form that's 1 year old. My needs have changed significantly since then, new medical evidence is available but they haven't attempted to get any, I can't show them anything because my healthcare records are on my phone so I'm significantly disadvantaged before I even have my video consultation. Has this happened to anyone else?
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Sarah Bradshaw · 8 months ago
    I would like to know exactly how many of those 42,000 people who had their claims terminated due to failure to complete form are supposed to have an additional support marker and/or vulnerable status on their file/casework but don’t. How do we go about making sure that we do have the additional support marker?
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Owls69 · 1 years ago
    Just had my pip assessment over phone,1 hour 20 mins for them to repeat same question over and over again,so stressful asking what work I did 10 years ago what has that got to do with a pip assessment 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Julie · 1 years ago
    My husband got his pip review decision today 
    As from 28.3.23 he is no longer eligible 
    Such lies on how they make the decision 
    What is the best way to do a mandatory reconsideration? Phone or letter 
    I’m fuming- the system is so wrong !
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    C · 1 years ago
    My PIP due to run until October this year. I received the review form this month with around 1 week to get it back to them.  Any idea how long I will be waiting for a decision? 
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    Christopher mahrra · 1 years ago
    I have always had issues with atos and I’m worried that I’ll lose my pip after regaining it back in 2018 after a 2 year battle and over the lockdown I was given enhanced for both and now it’s in the review stage and I am worried I’m gonna lose it I have autism and adhd and physical health issues and I am so scared that I might have to go back to tribunal 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Allison · 1 years ago
    My husband is trying to claim the support element of ESA and PIP as he has cancer and is having Chemo so has lost his job. Both his applications are caught up in their huge backlog. It is very worrying and frustrating as it feels like they make it complicated so you will give up. I understand that they need to know if claims are genuine but those like my husband who struggle to complete forms are suffering.  Often it is the very vulnerable that need the most help but don’t always get that help. I know Citizens Advice can help but they can only do so much.  It feels like we are begging for crumbs from the Government’s table.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Paul · 1 years ago
    My PIP was stopped because they said I hadn't returned the form. Luckily for me, I sent it recorded delivery and had the proof that it was received by the DWP well before the cut-off date. It took me weeks to get my PIP and ESA benefits reinstated! Bunch of liars!!
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Nikki · 1 years ago
      @Paul Not alone on this at all, know several who have been affected by this so any official paperwork is always sent signed for, trouble is that’s expensive and on benefits difficult to do cost wise but absolutely necessary 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    A · 1 years ago
    Phone call Unexpected turn. 12.45 we'd 22 feb
    So my Pip renewal is in queue (since Sept 22) and due to a pip extension during pandemic (award till July 23 instead of April 22) but my blue bad has expired and my motability vehicle lease ends shortly and I no longer have 12months to be able to renew either.
    I spent over an hour wait on the phone to pip to be passed on to a case manager. Who was surprisingly very helpful! Explain due to huge back log they are starting to look at easy (no change in circumstances) renewals in house instead of sending to usual acessors. He told me they offer staff optional weekend over time and he is going to ask around and see if anyone is willing to work Saturday and look at my claim to get it pushed through quicker. He's going to call me back later today and let me know if he has found anyone to help. 
    Honestly just expected to be told the same old  it's in a queue and will be extended if a dession isn't made my end of claim and  just to wait. 
    Genuinely shocked someone from pip is trying to help get this sorted. 
    Will edit this comment with an update when/if he calls me back this afternoon. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Jean O'Hare · 1 years ago
    I fill out many PIP forms for people with the same/similar disability as myself and on completion, I always get it photocopied, date it and send it recorded delivery and this is proof, should it go ‘missing’.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Nicola · 7 months ago
      @Jean O'Hare I'm new to this world. Was working abroad as very little work in my area. I sent all pay home and paid tax and full council tax as Town Hall decided I was resident. So everything was taken off me to support others but when I needed support zilch. Two years passed, arthritis after a fall worsened, I had a stroke to deal with too. Applied to PIP again, video consultation was cancelled downgraded to a phone call.  Last week I received 1788.43 into my bank, no messages. I checked bank to see DWP PIP, almost two weeks later and still no confirmation. I'm looking at recliner/riser chairs but daren't spend the money incase it has been wrongly put into my account. Constant pain, do people on PIP receive free prescriptions - I work at home, sitting at a desk, but bum is in constant pain. No respite at all. Wish I could have a miracle pain killer. I actually cry because I am unable to stand and wash the dishes, bought a stool but the position I would be in to wash is just far too painful.

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    Jacqueline Henderson · 1 years ago
    I sent my review form back August 2021. I eventually rang them and it was with the assessment team. August 2022 I rang again same answer.  I received two texts saying the same thing. Then January 2023 Capita letter came , I hD to have a telephone appointment. The end result was I'm still on standard daily allowance and no mobility at all despite having RA for 23 years which is not getting any better. My brother said that my hands were like 7lb lump hammers. I said you want to see my elephant feet,flat , crooked and hairy!!! 
    My mobility was stopped when I went from DLA to PIP.Well everything was stopped ESA and housing benefit. I did appeal but only received daily living. 
    Going back to the form she either never heard or understood me on the phone as 30% is wrong. I told her about having 3 operations and 2 hospital admission and I have deteriorated since the last review. 
    All in all it was 1year and 5 months until her call.I was really worried and stressed to.Oh it does last till 2027 but still no mobility. I had 17 years on DLA and I'm not getting any better and PIP your alright Jack. take care all.


    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Nikki · 1 years ago
      @Jacqueline Henderson Always always ask for the call to be recorded and have someone with you for support and notes in advance.. they do lie entirely about the interview information received if not recorded. I am the person who deals with my husband’s claim as he cannot do so (memory impairment and confusion), and they lied and said he could do many things he cannot and never has, but had they asked him directly he wouldn’t remember what he said. They refused to record his PIP interview (which actually was them asking me not him) and assumed that we would have no record. We did (my memory as an independent non memory impaired witness) and put in a complaint. I strongly recommend complaining if they have wrong information, was overturned at mandatory reconsideration which I doubt would have happened had I not gone postal over it..
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Roger Barlow · 1 years ago
    It’s vital to return your forms using post office special delivery, it’s tracked all the way to the Wolverhampton mail handling site, and you can even look up online to see the name of the person who signed for it and the date and time.
    The DWP can’t carry on saying you didn’t Send it, because you can prove they have it.
    Also, please photocopy your forms before you send them off, as if they actually have lost your form, you can photocopy your photocopy and send that off.
    Also it makes it much easier when you have your next review, you can look at what you wrote last time.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Nicola · 7 months ago
      @Roger Barlow I have photographed using my phone, the luxury of leaving the home to get photocopying done passed me by years ago. 

  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    dawn · 1 years ago
    my son suffers from mental health and didnt get an award so he sent asking for them to look at his claim again he waited weeks and when we phoned up they said his form arrived too late shocking they are i told him to appeal but because of his mental health he didnt want to even though i said i would go for him so he is not getting what he is entitled to this is because of people who have no idea about mental health.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Nikki · 1 years ago
      @dawn Need to have someone registered with them as his support (can’t remember what they call it), I have helped my Husband and a close friend with their claims and they have to contact me rather than that person regarding everything due to the problems they have in dealing with it all now. That didn’t stop them contacting them and ignoring that legally they had to go through me for months they were getting (or not) contact from them instead but now they always contact me instead.. you may need to do the same to help your son so he doesn’t have to do this, it’s bad but there is a valid reason for it and so I would not hesitate if I were in that position again to help out
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Emma B · 1 years ago
    I was only given a month to complete and return the review PIP form from the date of the letter.  For a complex form that needs just the right wording!  No wonder people are struggling?  With christmas and postal strikes in the end I only had a few days and I couldn't phone for an extension because it was xmas. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    M · 1 years ago
    I have an idea! What about copying your PIP renewal x 3 post all separately 1st class special delivery for guaranteed next day signed for 9-1pm. Increase your chances of getting one opened! Peace of mind. As it’s like the lottery!!!! :-(
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Nicola · 7 months ago
      @M Great idea, and have the government pay back the cost of postage with proof of receiptS. 

  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Graham Pearson · 1 years ago
    I’m waiting on my PIP Review form in April, I’m in Scotland, So I don’t know what to expect? This is my First Review, So I’m getting ready just now, Evidence, Appointment with an Advisor from CAB, Getting stressed just now thinking about it, I’ve been told the Scottish One is more tolerant & understanding? We Will See? 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Clare Crotty · 1 years ago
    I always copy everything and send any forms back registered post It cost but it is worth it 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Sharon · 1 years ago
    Always send everything to the DWP by recorded delivery so that you have a receipt and they have to sign for it. they are very good at "losing" things.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Julia · 1 years ago
    I submitted my review last November.  I called the following day to let them know I had posted it but as there were postal strikes, if it was delayed then they would know the reason why. The person on the phone had to put a reason on her system, asking me why I hadn't done it sooner and started to type that ' I couldn't be bothered'. She couldn't seem to understand my point that I'd returned it prior to the date due.. she just kept saying I should have done it earlier. Grrrr
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      denby · 1 years ago
      @Julia Simply scandalous. I wonder can one do a subject data access request and contest such libel?
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