More details of the arrangements to allow claimants to keep their Motability vehicles whilst appealing a disability living allowance (DLA) to personal independence payment (PIP) decision have now been published.
Last week we reported that Penny Mordaunt, Minister of State for Disabled People, had announced a scheme to allow DLA to PIP claimants who lose their right to a Motability vehicle to keep it whilst appealing the decision.
At that time, no details of how much of the transitional payment claimants would lose if they kept their vehicles was made public.
Payments whilst challenging a decision
The full details have now been provided by Motability, as follows.
For claimants who joined the Motability scheme before 2013 and return the car within eight weeks, £2,000 will be available. Alternatively you can choose to keep the vehicle for 26 weeks, however in this case you will receive a reduced payment of £500.
For claimants who joined the Motability scheme during 2013 and return the car within eight weeks a transitional support payment of £1,000 will be available. Alternatively you can choose to keep the vehicle for 26 weeks and receive a reduced payment of £250.
For claimants who joined the Motability scheme since 1 January 2014, when more information on PIP became available, a standard £250 Return to Dealer payment will be available if the vehicle is returned within eight weeks.
Motability say that all dates relate to the period starting from the day of the last DLA payment.
These details appear to only apply to claimants who lose their higher rate mobility on transfer from DLA to PIP. They do not apply claimants who lose their enhanced PIP mobility award when their PIP award is reviewed.
Claimants who do not return their vehicle within 8 weeks of the date of their last payment will be treated as having chosen to keep it for a further 26 weeks. They will have their transitional payment reduced accordingly.
If you receive a transitional payment and apply for a Motability vehicle again within six months, Motability say you will need to speak to them to ‘discuss your options’.
Outside of the six months Motability say they ‘do not expect’ you will need to repay anything, even if you are awarded enhanced PIP mobility and apply to join the scheme again.
How long to appeal?
One major issue is the length of time that the mandatory reconsideration and appeal process is likely to take.
With around 80% of DLA to PIP mandatory reconsiderations resulting in no change, most claimants will have to then appeal to a first-tier tribunal to try to get their award reinstated. Here their chances of success will be around 65%.
However, the DWP can take as long as they wish to make a decision on your mandatory reconsideration request, before you even get into the queue for an appeal. We don’t have any statistics on how long PIP mandatory reconsiderations take on average. But there is a lot of anecdotal evidence of claimants having to chase the DWP up repeatedly and still waiting months for a decision.
The latest statistics for appeals suggest that a social security appeal, once the process has begun, takes an average of 16 weeks to be completed.
However, the backlog in the number of appeals has increased by 43% in a year to December 2016 and is likely to continue rising as the number of DLA to PIP appeals puts an ever greater strain on the system.
There is a strong possibility that many, perhaps most, claimants will have to wait more than six months for a decision. In this case they will still lose their Motability car but will also lose up to £1,500 that they could otherwise have received from Motability.
The new arrangements still leave claimants at a huge disadvantage.
The only fair solution would be to allow Motability users to keep their vehicles until their appeal has been heard, however long it takes. That way any delays would be at the expense of the DWP and taxpayers generally, rather than individual claimants.
Instead, claimants must either take a gamble, based on uncertainty about the length of the appeals process as well as the outcome, or they must give up a vehicle they know they should be entitled to keep. And, with it, a great deal of their independence.
What would you do?
If you found yourself in this position, what would you do?
Would you take the transitional payment or hang on to your vehicle and hope your appeal was heard – successfully - in time?
We’d particularly be interested to hear from members who have challenged a DLA to PIP decision.
Did you win and, if so, at what stage?
How long did the process take?
Please leave a comment below.