An extra 'mandatory reconsideration' stage added to the disability benefits appeal process by government is creating huge suffering.{jcomments on}

Robert Bickle, 62, has had a difficult few years. Since he lost his wife in 2009, his health has seriously deteriorated. As well as suffering from a chronic lung condition and arthritis he is also undergoing chemotherapy treatment for prostate cancer.

Last autumn, as Bickle's health worsened, he made a claim for the personal independence payment (PIP). Introduced in April 2013, PIP is replacing the disability living allowance and, like its predecessor, it is intended to help with the additional expenses caused by long-term health problems such as transport costs to and from hospital appointments. In January, Bickle's claim for the mobility benefit – which can vary from £21.55 to £138.05 per week depending on the points awarded to the claimant during their assessment – was refused. He immediately requested that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reconsider its decision. Five months later he is still waiting to hear and has received no payments.

"It is the not knowing that gets me. It has been months now and you never know when they will respond," says Bickle, who worked at London Heathrow airport for 38 years before taking early retirement in 2006 to care for his sick wife. Now living alone in Northampton, he receives a monthly company pension of £860 and claims no other benefits. "I am living on the breadline – once everything is paid there is very little left," he says. "I have enough to deal with at the moment without this added stress. I feel depressed and have trouble sleeping. All the extra little costs just build up. If my PIP claim was approved it would make a huge difference to my life."

Read the full story in The Guardian

[please note that the reference to ‘mobility benefit’ in the article is not wholly accurate. PIP can, however, include a component for Mobility as well as for Daily Living difficulties.]

Thanks to Jim Allison for spotting this for us.


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