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PIP claimants - email your experiences of the process to Laura Pidcock MP before Westminster debate next Wednesday

Discussion in 'Advocacy Action Alerts' started by Liv aka Mrs Sowester, Jan 25, 2018.

  1. Liv aka Mrs Sowester

    Liv aka Mrs Sowester Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Please take a moment to email Laura Pidcock MP at laura.pidcock.mp@parliament.uk with your experiences of claiming PIP before next Wednesday 31st January.


    I believe the system is cruel and short sighted, making sick people worse will inevitably lead to higher costs on the social care, health care and benefit systems in the medium to long term.
     
    Barry, boolybooly, AndyPandy and 18 others like this.
  2. Liv aka Mrs Sowester

    Liv aka Mrs Sowester Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Here's my email:
     
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  3. Skycloud

    Skycloud Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Just briefly, Liv. I hope your email makes a difference. I don't claim myself because of the reasons your email so eloquently presents. I'm sorry you've been affected badly already and I really hope both your applications are successful without further deterioration. It all stinks so much, it is cruel.

    I hope you don't mind the pm, it's just your email brought on a few tears and I wanted to acknowledge it but what I wanted to say seemed a distraction from your thread.

    Don't reply - just take this as encouragement, support whatever.

    Best
    Skycloud
     
  4. Trish

    Trish Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Liv.

    I'm so sorry to hear you are going through this horrible process at the moment. Your e-mail is very eloquent, and necessary.

    I hope, when it comes to the medical, you are able to have it at home. You are clearly sick enough for this to be the case.

    I had mine at home and lay in bed throughout the medical, which took over an hour. I was shattered just by that. I did get PIP. It is possible. I hope you do too - you are clearly entitled to it. I completely agree that a report from the GP or other doctor should be sufficient instead of that dreadful long form.

    Best wishes, and well done with your e-mail - it's excellent.
     
    Barry, Esther12, AndyPandy and 13 others like this.
  5. MEMarge

    MEMarge Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I will do an email.
    A longstanding friend has just been turned down for the mobility element of PIP, having been on full amount for DVLA (apologies if I use wrong terms/acronyms). I have only been involved since last Nov when she was sent the form. I joined the benefits and work site to get a better understanding, re descriptors etc.

    Even the summary "reasoning", explaining her award made we want to rant, so by the time I have collected the full report tomorrow, I should have plenty of info for the email.....
     
  6. MEMarge

    MEMarge Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Also
    I'm so sorry to hear about your ordeal so far.

    I know they are trying to reduce fraud. But it's the conpeople who have the brain power, stamina and experience to work the system

    Writing good letters/reports is one thing that physios/OTs in clinics could help with!
     
  7. Diluted-biscuit

    Diluted-biscuit Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    It’s important to remember the level of fraud is tiny though. The harm being done to genuine applicants on the other hand is massive.
     
    Barry, Esther12, AndyPandy and 16 others like this.
  8. Liv aka Mrs Sowester

    Liv aka Mrs Sowester Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Thank you lovely friends :hug:
    I'm in floods of tears now!
    I don't want to worry or upset anyone by sharing my experience. I just think it's so important that we speak out against what is happening in the UK. And if me sharing my email helps anyone else to write theirs then that may help make a difference.

    I heard this weekend that a old neighbour of mine is dying in hospital at the moment, she has renal failure, she's in her mid 50s. She was declared fit for work and refused sickness benefits a month before she was admitted into hospital, she was yellow.

    This should not be happening to the most vulnerable members of one of the wealthiest countries on the planet.

    I just want to reassure you that I'm ok and I'm lucky to have a husband who supports me, a family that believes me, my GP is much better than most, he admits when he doesn't know about something, he takes advice, he believes me, he is referring me back to the ME clinic in Truro and the clinic is better than most - they believe ME is biological.

    @Skycloud you are very kind, PMs are very welcome but yours hasn't arrived in my inbox yet. I'm sorry I made you cry though :hug:
     
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  9. Liv aka Mrs Sowester

    Liv aka Mrs Sowester Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    A kind email from Laura Pidcock:
     
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  10. Skycloud

    Skycloud Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Liv - my post above is what I sent as a pm but it seems I didn't! But I clearly remember I did, I remember doing it :arghh:!! I have no idea it must be my stupid ME brain. Well perhaps my mistake will make everyone els feel better about themselves:laugh:

    Don't be sorry I shed a few tears :hug: Excellent email, and I'm sure it's a help to Laura Pidcock.
     
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  11. MEMarge

    MEMarge Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Burst out laughing earlier when I got the report. Physio has noted that friend worked as a self-employed builder , but had to give up X years ago for health reasons.
    What she actually said was that she used to do some of the admin for her husband who is a self-employed builder.......!!!!!!
    If she could not get that right how many other errors are there?
    Haven't read it all as then went out
     
  12. James

    James Established Member (Voting Rights)

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    Arnie Pye, Binkie4, MEMarge and 12 others like this.
  13. wastwater

    wastwater Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Where is the clinic in Truro,anyone have experience of it
     
  14. Liv aka Mrs Sowester

    Liv aka Mrs Sowester Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Hi @wastewater, Truro is in Cornwall and the clinic is in the NHS hospital. I'm guessing from your username you are somewhere near the Lakes?

    When I saw them a few years ago they weren't able to offer more than pacing advice, a diagnosis, med suggestions, disability aids and emotional support - but they believe ME is real. In the consultant letter to my GP some of my symptoms were divided into CNS and ANS dysfunction.

    There is a new team there now, I spoke to the OT on the phone about my falls last year, she asked about POTS. So I'm reassured the ethos hasn't changed.
     
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  15. Sean

    Sean Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I think this is an important point to get across, that all this is deliberate.
     
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  16. Binkie4

    Binkie4 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    So sorry you are facing all this @Liv aka Mrs Sowester.
    I am glad you have your husband and Pickle.

    What a devastatingly cruel system.
     
  17. Daysailer

    Daysailer Established Member

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    Hello Mrs Sowester

    My partner (ladycatlover) pointed this out to me, and I have emailed the MP a brief rant about our experiences, plus the text of the Witness Statement I wrote for the Tribunal. There's some ammo there, if she has time to read it!
     
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  18. Daysailer

    Daysailer Established Member

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    Ladycatlover has suggested I post the gist of my email to the MP:

    Dear Laura

    I understand you are interested in the experiences of persons claiming PIP. My wife (who may also contact you herself if she has the strength to do so) has suffered with ME for 25 years and used to receive DLA. Because she was a few weeks younger than the cutoff age she was obliged to apply for PIP.

    The process - from filling in the form, to the assessment, requesting a copy of the ATOS report, writing to our MP to point out the outrageous errors in the report, to the request for Mandatory Reconsideration (a meaningless rubber-stamp of the ATOS report) to the Tribunal hearing (which awarded Maggie the higher rate of PIP for both mobility and daily living) - took well over a year, and (until the Tribunal finding) was an appalling waste of Maggie's energy and the taxpayers' money.

    I find it unbelievably stupid that the contracts with ATOS and CAPITA do not appear to have any penalties if they get too many decisions wrong, and that the DWP Reconsideration (in our case) ignored the concerns we raised and invented reasons to support the original ATOS decision.

    In case you have time to look at specific instances of what is going wrong, I am appending the text of my witness statement which was part of the bundle Maggie submitted to the Tribunal.





    I attended the PIP assessment with my wife .

    When we received notice of the assessment, my first thought was how to get to and from the location with the least possible unnecessary expenditure of Maggie’s limited energy. I phoned to make sure there was wheelchair access and that we could park nearby, so we decided that I would drive Maggie there. These are the usual precautions we take when we go out. We arrived about ten minutes early. I assembled the wheelchair and helped Maggie get into it. There was no ramp so I went to the front door to enquire. One of the staff came out and positioned a temporary ramp which enabled me to wheel Maggie into the building (while this was happening another wheelchair user arrived).

    I would like to bring to the attention of the Tribunal some instances where what I have observed is at variance with what has been reported in the DWP bundle.


    “She has a driving licence but she does not drive and has not for last 12 years” HCPs report, (DWP bundle page 46). “You stated that you are able to drive but have not driven for some time” PIP Award letter,(DWP bundle pages 75,76).

    This gives the misleading impression that Maggie is able to drive but chooses not to. When Maggie first became ill in 1992 she still felt competent to drive on most days, and the DVLA and insurance were content to let her decide when she was or was not fit enough to do so. It has been at least 12 years since we can remember her feeling fit enough to drive safely.


    “She reports she has stamina” HCPs report (DWP bundle page 45).

    In her PIP application Maggie states “I have no stamina”. This is the most disabling and distressing symptom of her illness. Questioned at the assessment, Maggie said “I have no stamina”.

    The HCP records “MSO undertaken while sitting in her wheelchair” (DWP bundle page 50) and “MSO was unremarkable except she declined to forward flex and did not bend and squat as she was in her wheelchair” (DWP bundle page 51). As I recall it, Maggie did not decline to forward flex; the HCP said “I won’t ask you to do this as it would cause you pain”.



    “She . . . can walk to the garden path 5 metres” HCPs report (DWP bundle page 45).

    This does not accurately reflect what I recall being said. The HCP asked Maggie “How far can you walk?” As I remember it, Maggie replied “The furthest I can walk is 10 metres, that is 5 metres to the end of the front garden and then back again, after which I have to sit down and rest”.

    Our car is usually parked on the front drive so only a couple of metres from the porch. When Maggie needs to go out and we are using a taxi, Maggie has to walk the 5 metre length of the front path to reach the pavement, then another couple of metres to get into the cab. When we return she has to walk from the taxi to the chair in the front porch. When she has rested she then has to get up the stairs to the bedroom. By this time she is usually exhausted and often has to sit down on the stairs and go up backwards one tread at a time. When we do this, Maggie pays a price for this exertion as all her symptoms are much worse for several days afterwards. For this reason, she only undertakes this on special occasions, once a month or less on average.

    Most of this was not brought out at the assessment, but everything that was said has been summarised as “She can walk to the garden path 5 metres”.


    “Coped well at interview. Normal manner, not anxious, agitated or tense” HCPs report (DWP bundle p50).

    At one point, the HCP asked Maggie, “what is it about your condition which you find most upsetting?”. Maggie replied something like “The worst thing is not being able to cope with my grandchildren. They are too ‘bouncy’ for me. They never knew me before I was ill and they don’t see me as a real person” . At this point she broke down and wept, then apologised to the HCP for crying. The response of the HCP was “You are not the first claimant to cry in front of me and you won’t be the last.” In the HCPs report on Maggie’s Mental State (DWP bundle p50) she states “Coped well at interview. Normal manner, not anxious, agitated or tense”. My recollection is that Maggie was anxious and tense for at least a week before the interview, but that was the only point where she became agitated. In her Informal Observations (DWP bundle page 50) the HCP notes “She became emotional discussing her grandchildren stating she felt she was unable to cope with them due to her conditions”.


    “It has been confirmed in the GP FME that her bad days are 1-2 days per week which is not the majority of the time” ATOS supplementary advice note to DWP dated 23/11/2016 (DWP bundle page 103).

    In her application, Maggie gave her GP and her counsellor as medical referees. These are the only medical professionals she has ongoing contact with; her referrals to other specialists (infectious diseases, neurologist) were back in the 1990s. We were surprised that ATOS did not initially request any input from Maggie’s referees. This only happened after Maggie had requested the Mandatory Reconsideration. In their other supplementary advice note to the DWP, dated 27/10/2016 (DWP bundle page 91), ATOS state: “Thank you for your request for advice. All of the available information has been read and considered and there is insufficient evidence to advise of any changes. I have requested FE from this lady’s GP and counsellor in order to provide sufficient evidence. Please task back through once this has been received” (DWP bundle page 91).

    In the Mandatory Reconsideration report, the DWP state (DWP bundle p109) “Upon receipt of your medical evidence I sought further medical advice from the Health professional. They confirmed that the GP letter received referred to your bad days as 1-2 days a week, which is not the majority of the time . . . ” Neither the ATOS advisor or the DWP decision maker seem to have read the GP letter with due attention. The level of impairment which Maggie describes in her PIP application is what she suffers even on her “good” days. Her GP notes “There are some days (1-2 / 7) when she is unable to get out of bed” (except to go to the bathroom). These are the worst days. Maggie does not have any days per week when she can move freely around the house, fend for herself, drive the car, or walk up to 10 metres reliably, safely and repeatedly.



    “. . . you said your medication is effective . . .” Mandatory Reconsideration Notice (DWP bundle page 110).

    What medication? There is no medication proven to be effective for CFS/ME and Maggie is not prescribed any treatment for her CFS/ME. When she filled in the PIP form she was taking a folic acid supplement, and a vitamin D supplement (to combat a low level of vitamin D, not, as the HCP wrongly recorded, “for bone protection”) (DWP bundle page 46). At the time of the assessment, the vitamin D prescription had run out but because it was recommended by Maggie’s GP we had continued to buy it until we could get to see the GP again. Maggie took her folic acid tablets to the assessment and showed them to the HCP. In the Mandatory Reconsideration Notice (DWP bundle page 110) this is stated as “you are not prescribed any dietary supplements”.


    “You have told us that you disagree with the decision as you used to get a higher level of award of DLA and feel you should get a higher level of award for PIP” Mandatory Reconsideration Notice (DWP bundle page 110).

    Maggie is well aware that the rules for PIP are different from the rules for DLA. In her request for Mandatory Reconsideration Maggie refers throughout to the rules for PIP. In the brief biographical note which she included at the start of her request for Reconsideration (DWP bundle page 82) Maggie stated the fact that she is transferring from DLA to PIP, but did not, either here or anywhere else, argue that because she had DLA Mobility at the higher level she “feels she should” be awarded higher rate PIP for Mobility. I have searched through the entire bundle and cannot find anything to support this hostile invention by the decision maker.


    “You said during the day you become more fatigued and and you can not understand or respond to complex verbal information. At the assessment it was noted that you heard without difficulties and communicated clearly with the assessor.” Reconsideration notice (DWP bundle page 109).

    It seems that at the Reconsideration it was not noticed that the assessment took place between 9 and 10am, although Maggie had pointed this out in her request for Reconsideration (DWP bundle page 86).


    During the last 25 years I have seen Maggie fighting to keep her job, fighting to find some other meaningful activity to replace her job, searching for answers and counselling other sufferers, fighting to remain as fit and mobile as possible, and fighting a gradually losing battle with her medical condition. You wouldn’t guess this from the HPs report.
     
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  19. MEMarge

    MEMarge Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Thanks Mr Catlover/Daysailor for posting this info.

    Having read some examples of assessment reports I was not too surprised by some of the many "you said you can do A so I've decided you can do X,Y and Z" in my friend's report.
    However it is gut-wrenching for the claimant to see her words twisted/ignored/blatantly misconstrued.

    Her assessor was brisk, brusque and patronising, continually calling her "dear". Said friend is in her 40s. A friend of ours who is a manager in the local Council, working with disabled people was shocked by this, when told about it, as Council staff have training that includes how to address people respectfully.

    She will be even more shocked when she reads the report and decision letter. (Tho' she is aware of the abundance of errors in the PIP process.)

    The process is a farce but also a tragedy, because many disabled people will not have the support, energy or stamina to keep pushing through
     
  20. Invisible Woman

    Invisible Woman Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    ...and that's what they are counting on. It's deliberate.
     
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