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UK: Disability benefits (ESA and PIP) - news and updates

Discussion in 'Work, Finances and Disability Insurance' started by Andy, Nov 6, 2017.

  1. Andy

    Andy Committee Member (& Outreach when energy allows)

    Messages:
    14,308
    Location:
    Hampshire, UK
    Deadline of November 10th 2017 to submit your input to the parliamentary inquiry on PIP and ESA



    http://www.parliament.uk/business/c...es/parliament-2017/pip-esa-assessments-17-19/
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 23, 2021
  2. ladycatlover

    ladycatlover Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    3,353
    Location:
    Liverpool, UK
    Thanks for this reminder @Andy! I've been reading the submissions thus far over the last few days - mostly they are absolutely horrifying. Seem particularly so for Autism Spectrum Disorders, including Aspergers. From what I recall there aren't that many for ME/CFS yet. A few for Fibro, but again not a lot.

    I've started a document that I'll be working on tomorrow. I've got a LOT of contemporaneous information on my 20 pages on Benefits and Work that I can use to remind myself!

    I would like to encourage anyone (@hellytheelephant?) who has probs with the PIP or ESA process to write something, it doesn't have to be long. The more evidence this committee gets showing how useless this process is, and how unfair, unkind and stress making it is the better!

    EDIT: to remove link to my personal story on Benefits and Work. PM me if you want to read it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  3. JCB

    JCB Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    294
    Location:
    England
    Just reading this thread has brought back stress from my experience of DLA to PIP conversion earlier in the year. I can think of many things to tell them about. However I have little confidence my input will make a difference. I do know that I will relive the past experience. I need to assess how much this would drain me if I did do it. I need to decide if I would be able to finish it without overdoing, or I would waste my capacity if I fail to complete it. I may go to the link later, but not yet ...
     
    MeSci, Maria1, Justy and 5 others like this.
  4. ladycatlover

    ladycatlover Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    3,353
    Location:
    Liverpool, UK
    @JCB you really don't have to write a lot. Some submissions are only 3 or 4 lines. Some are essay length. I've been reading bits out to and ranting about lots of them to my poor long suffering husband!

    I do know what you mean about even thinking about it brings back the stress of it all. It does to me too, but it also makes me ANGRY.

    One thing I want to make clear to them is that due to losing my Motability car last November I haven't been able to go to family parties for my Grandkids and other family get-togethers. OK I've got a new car on order, but if the assessor had done her job properly I wouldn't have missed over a year of socialising with my family. I'm 69 now, and think I don't have that many years left to enjoy with my family. Yes, they do visit us, but we don't have the same capacity for guests that younger daughter has so she hosts usually - means cousins and in laws can come too, we're too cluttered (lost a year of decluttering to PIP) and small to do that.

    But don't beat yourself up if you can't manage it. I'm sure plenty of people would like to contribute, but it's just too much for them... A lot of the evidence is from parents or partners.
     
    MeSci, Justy, It's M.E. Linda and 3 others like this.
  5. JCB

    JCB Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    294
    Location:
    England
    But the point is, for me, and what I was considering above, is whether it is possible to put a cogent argument in that space, and whether a short response will just get put onto the other pile. I won't beat myself up. I do need to decide if my response will just become part of a box ticking exercise.
     
  6. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    4,142
    Thanks to everyone making submissions to this sort of thing. My understanding is that they do tend to be read by people with some influence, so it's probably a better use of time than a lot of other writing we do.
     
  7. markiemark

    markiemark Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    136
    Location:
    Scotland
    It's great to see so many responses, in spite of the poor website design (it's not immediately clear on how to submit feedback amongst other things). I shall certainly lend my experiences. I have been re-reading over my previous mandatory consideration letter... it shocked me all over again how terrible the experience was and how the exact same experience has happened three times in a row. Hopefully this committee will actually be able to affect (effect?) change. What will they be able to do with all this feedback?
     
    MeSci, Justy, It's M.E. Linda and 5 others like this.
  8. Luther Blissett

    Luther Blissett Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    1,678
    MeSci, ukxmrv, Justy and 8 others like this.
  9. It's M.E. Linda

    It's M.E. Linda Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    713
    I've used my basic 'timeline' and copied/pasted extras in where necessary.

    So pleased that today I have managed to submit something before the deadline, but fully understand how and why it is just too much for some of us to manage. It is so frustrating that it has taken me an afternoon to do something that, in the olden days, I would have finished in 15 minutes.
     
    MeSci, Luther Blissett, Andy and 4 others like this.
  10. Justy

    Justy Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    193
    Im just beginning the process of DLA to PIP - will be ringing them tomorrow for the first part. I already feel immensely stressed by it, plus as im so ill now it means i wont be able to do anything else for weeks now until the form is filled in. I will be filling in the form every day, a little at a time, until it is done. it may well make me more ill just completing the form. Im so scared of losing my motability car as i use a wheelchair and have to lay flat to travel due to coccydynia (ive been told, at the age of 48 i can never sit down again) and need a relaible estate car to be able to go out at all. My PA CANT PUSH ME UP THE HILL WE LIVE ON SO A CAR is the only way (sorry caps lock, not shouting).

    Ive already spent a whole week just chasing up Drs to do reports for me. Not even able to get in to see the GP, and as shes new to my case, she probably doesnt know enough about me to say anything useful).
     
    MeSci, Luther Blissett, Andy and 7 others like this.
  11. JCB

    JCB Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    294
    Location:
    England
    I went through this less than a year ago. They originally wanted the forms returned in the middle of the Xmas holiday. It was just as stressful as you say. A family member helped as far as their time permitted, but these forms are more time demanding than one might think. In the end no one else can really do it for you, as only you reallly know how you are affected. But the help I had did help and also saved my sanity. They did as much of the phone calls as DWP would allow (they did insist on speaking to me several times). Hanging in a queue with on hold "music" wipes me out before I get to talk to anyone. I think having a happy, efficient person speak to them was an asset. They can't be very much used to having people talking to them nicely throughout the process. They also did the fair copy of the form. We used computr scans for all the draft work.

    I had to do a mandatory reconsideration on the DLA before I first got it. I went from 0 point to full mobility and mid care, just because I wrote a letter saying this is not fair, roughly speaking. I did have an outside charity assistant for my first DLA. I would say do not rely (I'm not saying don't use them at all) on an outside assistant. They did not have enough time to do a good job or even for me to explain myself. Fortunately after a huge amount of careful work, I did get full PIP, but the letter of explanation of their assessment showed that they had not fully understood me. Too many things were zero rated, so I only scraped through instead of having loads of points to spare. Good luck.

    Sympathise with the coccydynia. My ex-wife broke her coccyx, but that did heal reasonably well in the end. She had a difficult time. If yours is permanent, that will not be nice.
     
    MeSci, Luther Blissett, Andy and 5 others like this.
  12. ladycatlover

    ladycatlover Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    3,353
    Location:
    Liverpool, UK
    I finally got my submission in today. Husband caught a gruesome cold from Grandkids, :( and managed to pass it on to me now we're in Wales. :arghh: I've spent most of the last few days awake all night :oops: and asleep all day. :rolleyes: I spent ages this morning doing a detailed post to submit, but only about half of it would copy and paste in. :cry: I didn't realise there was a word limit. So cut it back hard, and I'm assuming it went through - it's all pre-moderated, so prob won't find out till tomorrow if it's been accepted.

    Since this area isn't Members Only I'm not going to copy what I submitted. Plus I've edited one of my above posts to remove a link too.
     
  13. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    4,142
    Thanks for all your work on that.
     
  14. boolybooly

    boolybooly Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    266
    I wrote a submission and they didn't publish it so I Bowdlerised it and that was published.

    I trust Frank Field more than most. If he reads it he will get the picture.

    I kept a copy here
    20/10/17 23:48
    Regarding the question "Did you feel that the right decision on your entitlement to ESA/PIP was reached as a result of your initial assessment?" the answer is no because my PIP was overturned at appeal to HMCTS on the papers, so I was awarded enhanced mobility and standard daily living with a review date in 2021 instead of standard mobility until 2018.

    The initial assessment was not fair or proper because it ignored my doctor's explicit written evidence which I had submitted prior to the first assessment. This evidence was valid, as the tribunal explicitly stated that my doctor's evidence was instrumental in their decision.

    The assessor's report was not self consistent and ignored my own clear and unequivocal written and verbal statements, which I can prove as I recorded the interview, with permission and provided partial transcripts to the tribunal. My assessor's verbal and written statements in the interview and in the report indicated that she had not read my written answers and evidence completely.

    My conclusion is that the HP did not have enough time to read or analyse my written submission and my thorough but not excessive or extraneous written submission became an obstacle to fair assessment, which is perverse and should not be the case.

    Regarding the question "What steps would you recommend taking to improve it?" Assessors are pressurised to spend as little time as possible per assessment which conflicts with their role as assessors and de facto decision makers (since they choose descriptors) and means they cannot do the job effectively.

    I would suggest restructuring the incentives so that a good decision matters more than a quick decision. Appeal outcomes should feed back into decision making so decision makers can learn from their mistakes. Reassessment intervals should be longer and for chronic conditions and indefinite awards should be allowed to reduce the burden of unnecessary assessments.

    Regarding the question "If you have experience of Mandatory Reconsideration, did you find this stage effective and useful? How might it be improved?" No it was not useful or effective as the mandatory reconsideration sustained the decisions of the HP without reconsidering my doctor's explicit written evidence, since if it had it done so it would have reached the same conclusion as the tribunal. Consequently neither the assessment or the reconsideration were fair hearings. The MR could be improved by making it fair and true reassessment in which decision makers read the evidence properly.

    Regarding the question "Overall, how "claimant-friendly" did you find the assessment process?" the answer is not at all. It was very stressful doubly so for being improperly conducted. Stress is harmful to my health as I have an immune disease diagnosed as ME CFIDS which involves immune dysfunction resulting in severe viral, inflammatory and neurological symptoms which are exacerbated by stress. The flawed assessment and the obligation to fight through an appeal was detrimental to my health and wellbeing because of stress and because they obliged me to overexert myself mentally and physically contrary to my recommended therapy of pacing. My disease has progressed in severity more rapidly during the year of the assessment and appeal and my quality of life is more limited now as a result. Consequently I consider the stress impact of assessment has reduced my quality of life permanently, due to the acceleration of disease progression.
     
    MeSci, Andy, ladycatlover and 4 others like this.
  15. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    4,142
    I think of Field as someone who has been pretty rubbish on a lot of this stuff, but thanks for your work.
     
    Luther Blissett and ladycatlover like this.
  16. boolybooly

    boolybooly Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    266
    I also wrote to my MP Peter Bone about my example of assessment failure in July and he wrote to David Gauke at the DWP.

    I received a copy of the reply via Mr Bone from Julie Savage, head of PIP reassessments but it was a negligent and disingenuous stonewalling reply, which treated my criticism as though it was an information request, when it wasn't.

    My letter.
    Dear Mr Bone,

    I wrote to you about PIP before the election, copy enclosed. I am writing again in
    the hope of persuading you to respond and challenge the reality of a systemic failure of PIP
    assessment and mitigate its impact on vulnerable people across the UK.

    I have been through PIP assessment because of my ME CFIDS. The flaws in my own assessment
    were egregious, as revealed in preparing for the tribunal and showed my assessment ignored my
    written submission and medical evidence available to the assessor. The assessment was not self
    consistent and yet DWP decision makers, including mandatory reconsideration, repeated the
    errors of the assessor. This is why it was overturned on papers and my appeal allowed without
    needing to attend the tribunal, based on medical evidence the DWP had all along.

    PIP decisions are being left in the hands of health professionals who are of a different vocation
    to the legal and clerical skills required. They are being pressured for time and perversely cannot
    afford the time to read and consider relevant documents. Which is why the method of
    productivity incentivisation is counterproductive to the task of accurate assessment.

    This is why the majority (65%) of a rapidly increasing number of appeals are allowed.

    Would it not be better if people got a fair assessment at the first hearing? I am sure you agree
    vindictive attitudes towards the disabled are not justified. It makes sense to assess us fairly and
    would waste less money on appeals and would cause less harm.

    Moreover the disabled and seriously ill should be treated with care.

    Yours sincerely ...
     
    MeSci, Barry, Luther Blissett and 5 others like this.
  17. MsUnderstood

    MsUnderstood Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    214
    Location:
    Canada
    This article published on November 9, 2017 might be of interest to those in the U.K. Here are a few excerpts:

    "A Senior Judge Has Suggested Charging The Government For Every "No-Brainer" Benefits Case It Loses In Court

    Britain’s most senior tribunal judge says most of the benefits cases that reach court are based on bad decisions where the Department for Work and Pensions has no case at all.

    Sir Ernest Ryder, senior president of tribunals, also said the quality of evidence provided by the DWP is so poor it would be “wholly inadmissible” in any other court.

    In an extraordinary outburst against what he said was the incompetence of the department, he said he and his fellow judges were so incensed by the volume of cases where there was “no justifiable defence to the appeal” that they were considering sending them back – or charging the DWP for the cases it loses.

    The percentage of cases lost by the DWP on appeal has been growing rapidly. In 2007, 44% of cases heard in the Social Security and Child Support tribunal went against the DWP. Ryder said the figures have now risen to a “staggering” 61%.

    He said this was because in most instances the DWP simply had no case at all.

    Benefits assessments have been mired in controversy since being outsourced to private companies who are encouraged to cut claimants."

    The article continues by discussing the lack of help for PIP appeals, now running at 100,000 per year, and that complaints against the PIP assessment process increased by almost 880 percent last year.

    One former benefits advisor at a Citizen Advice office stated that: ". . . the decision-making was so bad; medical evidence from the practitioners actually treating the client was usually ignored or marginalised, in favour of ‘assessments’ by a disability assessor, who was usually a nurse with no specialist knowledge of the client’s condition, but who had undertaken a short course on assessing disabilities and had examined the client for 30 minutes."

    Read the entire article here:
    https://www.buzzfeed.com/emilydugan...based-on-bad?utm_term=.lqb8Yl9X32#.ifvOZ48Dk5
     
  18. Sasha

    Sasha Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Messages:
    3,529
    Location:
    UK
    Great idea! The DWP currently has no disincentive to stop hurting sick and vulnerable people.
     
    Webdog, MEMarge, MeSci and 13 others like this.
  19. Trish

    Trish Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    36,224
    Location:
    UK
    Apart from the huge stress on already suffering people that having to go to appeal involves, there is also probably a huge proportion of people denied the benefits who simply don't have the resources and support to cope with going to appeal.

    The whole process is ridiculously unwieldy. In many cases, a simple report from a GP should be sufficient to recognise the person's needs.

    Instead there is
    a lengthy form for the patient to fill in,
    a medical done by someone with no expertise in that person's particular condition,
    a 'decision maker' who only sees the paperwork,
    and then if denied, a mandatory reconsideration by another 'decision maker',
    then if denied, a tribunal involving judges and medical experts.

    It's ridiculous.
     
  20. Valentijn

    Valentijn Guest

    Messages:
    2,275
    Location:
    Netherlands
    I don't think it's an accident, and the judge probably doesn't either. The current system has been created specifically to deny benefits to people entitled to them, while denying that anyone is accountable for the improper denials.

    The government is passing the assessments to someone else, so it's not their fault. The assessment companies can't help it if some of their employees are dishonest, so it's not their fault. The assessors aren't qualified and lack the resources to do proper assessments, so we can't really blame them either.

    Except they're really all acting inappropriately, even if there's not much evidence of intent. The government is paying the assessment companies to cut people, almost certainly with some financial incentive paid for them to do so. The assessment companies are putting pressure on their employees to cut people. Employees are deliberately lying to keep their jobs or for additional financial incentives.

    The tribunals are paying the price, and taxpayers who are funding a grossly inefficient system. Even with people being cut from benefits or bullied into killing themselves, the increased need for judicial proceedings are a huge expense. Actual costs are just being moved around so that people can deny that they exist.

    People should be marching on Parliament with torches and pitchforks, and not just the ones directly harmed by this fiasco. True fiscal conservatives should be just as appalled at the level of waste resulting.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2017

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