Figures released by the DWP last month show that 25.5% of PIP AR1 review forms were returned late or not at all in the 12 months to February of this year. It is not clear how many late returns were due to the DWP not answering the phone to claimants trying to ask for an extension of the deadline.
The figures cover the period from March 2022 to February 2023. They show that between 10,000 and 15,000 claimants fail to meet their return deadline every month.
However, according to Viscount Younger, answering a question in the House of Lords on behalf of the government, only 7% of claimants who received an AR1 form were disallowed for non-return.
Younger explained that:
“It is worth noting there are multiple reasons a form may not be returned within 40 days, or at all, without a resulting disallowance. For example, where a claimant has an additional support marker, or where an extension has been granted. On average, only 7% of claimants in the time period, who received AR1 forms, were disallowed for non-return.”
But, as we know from numerous comments on our PIP Enquiry Line page, trying to get an extension for returning a PIP form can be extremely difficult due to the DWP’s telephony chaos.
“Received PiP review form but my partner who it relates to is unwell in bed for last 3 days. Time scale for return quite short. Rang to get extension today. Keep getting cut off. Must have tried 10 times.”
“So far I've been thrown out of the system three times (after all the annoying security stuff and irrelevant information), and been on hold for 50 minutes, 20 minutes, 35 minutes. I've had to hang up each time because I had to do other things. I'm trying to arrange an extension of a form return for a young person I'm helping, which is now overdue because I can't get through... and the form arrived with only a week left to fill it in, and the deadline was a Sunday...unbelievably awful service!”
“Same thing happened to me when the phone went dead I tried ringing again and was told that they had closed. I needed to get in touch with them to ask for an extension for the renewal. Now I don’t know what to do as they will be closed now until Tuesday which is the day the forms have got to be sent in by.”
So, although many people who do not meet their PIP review form return deadline may not lose out as a result, there is a real possibility that hundreds – or even thousands – of claimants are being unfairly disqualified every month because they are prevented from requesting an extension.
You can read the full written answer here.