Further to yesterday’s article on the hoax letters being sent out by (in this case) Atos, summoning benefit claimants to non-existent “assessment” meetings, a couple more developments have come to light.
Firstly, Mrs Mike has received a new letter stating that her assessment has been cancelled and she doesn’t have to attend. This writer shall be going in any case – just to make sure.
Secondly, it seems matters get worse if you are unlucky enough to be denied benefit after an assessment. What follows refers to Personal Independence Payment. First, let’s hear from a commenter who had to go through the ‘mandatory reconsideration’ procedure:
“With the help of my local CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau), I made an application for PIP. As is normal, they refused it. The CAB explained they would, and requested a ‘Mandatory Review’.
“Under the old system, they would write a letter stating their reasons why the decision is wrong. Now, though, Atos will not accept this.
“Instead they are going to phone me at some random time of their choosing. I will then be expected to make the representation myself, without the representation or support I need.
“As a large part of my disability is related to my mental health, this is inappropriate, and causing me some severe anxiety.
“Another example of how this caring government is making people more ill – this time by not letting them use the services of the CAB.”
Now let’s hear from a commenter who has gone further along the process and actually appeared before a tribunal:
“Just been to a Tribunal to have my PIP claim reconsidered. That is one of the most awful and scary experiences I have ever had, having to explain things that I fight hard to try to overcome and don’t wish to think about, to people whose decision will greatly affect my future.
“The woman who originally made the decision to deny my PIP application was also there. I felt the questions she asked showed a total lack of understanding of the basics. She seemed to think that a debt management plan was a course of some kind to help me manage money. She also didn’t seem to get that my mental health issues mean I can write something on a calendar, but that doesn’t mean I might not still either forget appointments or really not feel well enough to attend them.
“For anyone with mental health issues to have to go through the PIP claim process, Atos assessment and ultimately a tribunal, it is unbelievably cruel and careless. I have been extremely distressed today.
“I am also not going to find out for a few days due to my appointment time being so late in their working day, which is also upsetting.
“I know some people use mental illness as an excuse, [but] those of us who are genuine (and that surely is the majority) should not have to go though such an ordeal.
“My friends in political parties and anyone else who cares and understands, please let it be known: THIS IS WRONG.”
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