Figures produced by the DWP show that just one in a hundred benefits tribunals is won because the claimant produced new written evidence. Almost all tribunal wins for claimants are based simply on what is already in the papers and what the claimant tells the tribunal on the day.
The startling figures were revealed in a written parliamentary response to a question by Labour MP Marsha De Cordova.
MIMS Davies, DWP minister for disabled people, produced figures showing the main reasons for tribunals overturning DWP decisions at PIP tribunals between 2021 and September 2023 were as follows:
- New written evidence provided at hearing 1%
- Cogent Oral Evidence 34%
- Reached a Different Conclusion on Substantially the Same Facts 58%
- Other 7%
The figures suggest that new written evidence is extremely rare and very seldom plays a major part in a tribunal’s decision to overturn a PIP decision.
Instead, in over half of all successful tribunals, the panel reaches a different decision simply by looking at the PIP ‘How your disability affects you‘ form, the assessor’s report and any other evidence submitted by the claimant.
In other words, the tribunal looks at what the claimant has written, looks at the assessor’s report and decides that the claimant’s evidence is more reliable.
In just over a third of cases, the tribunal is persuaded by what the claimant tells them at the hearing. This is likely to be evidence that wasn’t in the ‘How your disability affects you‘ form.
But many people have difficulty completing the form and that is a large part of the reason for the DWP getting Atos or Capita to carry out an assessment, to gather detailed evidence.
So, why is it that the tribunal can ask questions and receive “cogent oral evidence” but the DWP can’t? After all, appeal hearings are often shorter than PIP assessments and it is probably much more stressful facing an appeal panel of three people than it is talking to an assessor on the phone.
Is it possible that tribunals simply ask useful questions and listen carefully to the answers without prejudice. but most assessors do neither of these things?
Whatever the explanations, these figures should encourage claimants who are anxious about appealing a PIP decision.
Because you don’t need expensive medical evidence to win your appeal. You just need to show up and answer the questions as accurately as you can.
You can read the full written answer here.