How do people survive for up to two years while they are fighting the Conservative-run Department for Work and Pensions’s cruel decision to cancel their disability benefits?
That’s what This Writer wants to know.
Maureen Ringland was lucky enough to have friends who helped her out – and who will be paid back with appropriate portions of the £13,000 payout she has received.
This is a woman with severe autism, Reynaud’s Disease and Hypohidrosis – the last of which may cause hyperthermia, heatstroke and death. Her condition means she cannot cope with simple daily tasks.
But when she was tested for Personal Independence Payment in 2017, she was told her £83 per week daily care allowance and £58 per week mobility allowance was cancelled.
She had to go through the DWP’s immensely convoluted procedure for challenging adverse benefit decisions – first a request for a “mandatory reconsideration”, then an appeal before a tribunal.
It was two years before the government department relented, reinstated and backdated her PIP.
The DWP has claimed the decision was reversed because the family submitted new information.
But this is a transparent excuse; when anyone appeals against a disability benefit decision, they include as much information as possible. This may include medical details from their GP or a specialist doctor, for example, including the kind of details that they may not have believed was necessary when they submitted their original application.
When Mrs Mike was transferred from DLA to PIP last year, I recall we included everything but the kitchen sink (as the saying goes), with this in mind.
We may conclude that the DWP tried to cancel the money this grandmother needed to survive, in the belief that she would not be able to challenge the decision; either she would not be able to gather and provide the necessary information to mount a challenge, or her debts would mount to such a degree that she would have to abandon her claim.
That has not happened, it seems, because she has a capable husband and friends who were able to support her financially.
Few people can say the same.
In its own comments on the case, the DWP pointed out that only five per cent of PIP refusals have been overturned by a tribunal.
What the department’s spokespeople do not say is that those five per cent also total 65 per cent of appeals that have been made.
All in all, an extraordinary 70 per cent of social security appeals are successful.
But only 10 per cent of PIP decisions are appealed – and 56 per cent of new claims, together with 28 per cent of claims by people who have been transferred from Disability Living Allowance, are refused.
With 1,542,000 reassessed DLA claims and 2,649,000 new claims handled between its inception and March 2019 (the most up-to-date figures available to This Writer), and 175,000 in progress, that leaves 1,585,000 rejections uncontested.
What happens to those people?
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