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Wheelchair-bound: but was this person granted Personal Independence Payment, or was it denied because they could not walk up the stairs to the assessment centre? (If they had managed that trip, no doubt they would have been refused it on the grounds that they are mobile. It’s a no-win situation for some.)

Apologies to those of you who think posts like this are recycled – they’re not; this is the current position.

CoventryLive is reporting that 40 per cent of applications for Personal Independence Payment – the current benefit paid ostensibly to help people with disabilities cope with the extra costs they must bear, simply to live a reasonable life – are turned down. This is in a part of the benefit system where fraud stands at just two per cent. A little incongruous, don’t you think?

It says rejection rates are similar across that news outlet’s area of coverage.

Most were rejected because the person was found not to meet the requirements needed to receive the benefit after a face-to-face assessment of their needs.

A few were rejected after the person failed to attend the assessment, and more were disallowed because the questionnaire was not returned to the DWP in time.

Let’s address some of these excuses.

Firstly, failure to attend: the DWP seems to rejoice in demanding that people with disabilities must travel dozens of miles to an assessment centre – and some of them simply can’t. Instant benefit denial. Sometimes, wheelchair users have been directed to assessment centres on the first floor of buildings with no lift. Instant benefit denial. Sometimes wheelchair users have crawled up the stairs (DWP employees having refused to help them), only to find out that, on arrival, they were considered too late to take part in their interview – or too able to deserve PIP because they had managed the journey upstairs. Instant benefit denial.

You see how this goes?

Mrs Mike was unable to travel to her PIP assessment so we requested a home visit. It was refused. So we insisted – hard, and eventually the DWP caved in. It takes a while, but my advice is: stick to your guns.

Next, failure to return the form in time: the form is long, convoluted and designed to trap claimants into invalidating their own claim. Disabled people are often put under extreme pressure by these forms; merely receiving them creates extreme stress. Furthermore, their disabilities can fog their minds (that’s certainly the case with Mrs Mike). There are calls for medical evidence from doctors (who are now discouraged by the government from responding) and for other documentary evidence; all this material is ignored (or used to be). And while questions are asked about a claimant’s mental health, none of the answers count towards the final assessment; if you are mentally disabled, you have practically no chance of receiving PIP.

Finally, failure to succeed at interview: this is entirely dependent on the assessor, I think. Some – like those who assessed Mrs Mike – were entirely equitable. There were no attempts to trip her up (metaphorically – she was in such pain she could not move from her chair on the day), and her responses were treated with respect. I understand this is a rarity. Other claimants have suffered extraordinary abuse from assessors, with no way of proving it, unless they have brought a witness. I have always witnessed Mrs Mike’s assessments and recommend that all claimants have a witness. Also – and this seems common – assessors seem happy to falsify the evidence provided verbally by claimants. Perhaps this is the reason so many appeals – 75 per cent of them – are approved.

That’s right – three-quarters of appeals against false PIP decisions are granted. But a much smaller percentage of claimants actually go through the appeal process. This is because it is extremely time-consuming and wearing on people who have very little energy for it – as the Tory government knows.

Again, my advice is to go through with it, and get help to do it. It clearly works and the funds made available after a successful appeal will make it worthwhile.

Of course, the DWP won’t be satisfied. This Site has published horror stories of repeat assessments demanded within weeks of a successful appeal, simply to cause the maximum amount of inconvenience to people who are extremely vulnerable.

But that is the name of this game – a war on the vulnerable.

Source: Over forty percent of Coventry disability benefit applications refused by DWP – CoventryLive

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