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UK PIP appeals - advice, recommendations?

Discussion in 'Work, Finances and Disability Insurance' started by Wits_End, Feb 23, 2019.

  1. Wits_End

    Wits_End Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Less than 24 hours of being registered as a member, and I've already been awarded a Trophy!

    Anyway, that wasn't why I signed up: I joined here to ask if anyone had any pointers in relation to how to deal with a PIP appeal, since my caree has just had her mandatory reconsideration rejected. She's an ME sufferer, so isn't going to be able to attend in person, which I gather is likely to count against us, but I understand that I can represent her instead. I've skimmed the government guide to appeals, but that's not hugely enlightening. I really need an adviser, but am not sure where to go for that: the Citizens' Advice Bureau has been mentioned, but my previous experience of our local one is that it's hugely overburdened, and of course time is limited.

    I've been pointed in the direction of AdviceNow, Work&Benefits, and Turn2Us - are there other organisations and websites which might be useful? My time is limited, and I have a full-time job, so I'd greatly appreciate hearing from anyone who has experience of them simply so I can narrow down what's likely to help most. I'm in South London, in case that's relevant.

    If anyone has had experience of going through a PIP appeal, I'd very much appreciate hearing about it (if you can bear to rehash it), and any advice you can give.

    Many thanks in anticipation!
     
    DokaGirl, Trish, ladycatlover and 3 others like this.
  2. Simbindi

    Simbindi Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    If you haven't done so already if you sign up with the 'Benefits and Work website' as a member - they do have a forum with some very experienced moderators who may be able to answer your specific appeal process questions:

    https://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/forum1

    They will probably make reference to their multiple guide books, which are written and kept up to date by their experienced legal team. To access these guides you do have to take out a year's subscription to the site. The exception to this is if you have access to a charity which has taken out an organisational subscription (some CABs do this). Charities that have a paid membership can provide their clients with a free electronic copy of the B & W guides.

    I used their guides and was awarded enhanced rate in PIP care and mobility (although I have multiple co-morbid conditions in addition to long-term ME). I highly recommend their guides, certainly they are worth the cost of a paid subscription.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2019
  3. Simbindi

    Simbindi Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I do not know about South London, but some urban areas have 'Law Centres' - charities which will support benefit claimants at appeals. For example, Bristol has: https://www.ablc.org.uk/

    It may be worth doing a search to see if you have something similar in your area.
     
  4. Peter Trewhitt

    Peter Trewhitt Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I found the CAB very helpful, and they came to my house as I was unable to go out. However at the appeal stage I was supported by a County Council welfare officer, who was very experienced although we only had limited communication on line before the appeal hearing. Some local ME groups, such as the Sheffield group, have very good welfare advice services and may acompany people to hearings.

    I initially asked for my appeal to be considered on the basis of papers, but the County Council welfare service strongly pushed me to attend in person, saying appeals just on papers were much less likely to be successful, that made it a complex three day process for me with a night in a hotel before and after. I discussed this with my tribunal panel who said it was much better for them when the person attended.

    My panel were very helpful about repeating and going over things again and giving me a break. I ended up having to rest on the waiting area floor which was not a problem, though it would have helped if I had taken a pillow and a blanket to lie on (and someone to carry these things).
     
  5. ladycatlover

    ladycatlover Moderator Staff Member

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    I recommend Fightback4Justice, who are in Bury, but they can help via phone/email etc. I wrote more about them and my PIP experience on your original thread.

    Hello from South London

    ETA: It might be worth contacting your MP too. I complained about the Atos assessment and copied my email in to my MP. She contacted Atos and got some rather futile answers from them, but at least it signalled to them that she was keeping an eye! When they replied to me they gave a lot more detail, including that since my wheelchair wasn't NHS supplied it didn't count. Not in those words (can't remember exact wording) but that was the obvious meaning.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2019
  6. Diluted-biscuit

    Diluted-biscuit Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Mandatory reconsiderations nearly always get turned down but you stand a much better chance of a fair hearing at tribunal.

    Certainly look for any welfare advice groups in your area but if you don’t have any or they are too busy to help then benefits and work are excellent. There’s also a very good Facebook group that specialises in ME/CFS benefits. Search for UK M.E. & Chronic illness benefits advice group and you should be able to find it.

    Good luck
     
  7. Kirsten

    Kirsten Established Member

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    Be proactive about getting medical evidence from your doctors. In my experience they kept saying they would get the evidence, but never did because they don't have to with pip and i think they knew it would contradict what their assessors said. My gp is brilliant and i basically gave her a list of all the points i needed her to mention in her letter, basically all the sections i scored points for on their form, so she was basically backing up everything i said. She was happy to do this, i know i'm really blessed to have such a helpful gp.
    Also, i'm not sure about tribunals but i would get everything taped so they have no opportunity for funny business.
    Definitely try and find someone to come with you from a knowledgeable charity/legal entity, as again, they will have less ability to cheat if there is someone in the room who really understands what should be happening.
    Could you bring a video of a day in the life of your caree? i don't know if that's allowed?
    Hope you are successful and the stress doesn't have too much of a negative impact on you both.
     
    Wits_End, MEMarge, DokaGirl and 3 others like this.
  8. ladycatlover

    ladycatlover Moderator Staff Member

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    Maybe I went over the top, but I got all my medical records since I was first ill with ME (around 25 years worth) from my GP practice! Meant my total bundle (including the stuff from DWP) was over 300 pages! I'm not sure that's a very good strategy, but I think I had a kind Tribunal. Though they did ask a lot of difficult questions they were sensible ones to ask as they needed to get to the truth.

    Another thing to think about doing is taking photos of any equipment etc you use. I had photos of the ramp we had at our static caravan in Wales, along with photo of stool in shower cubicle there. We've just had new deck and ramp (new caravan) so must take more photos next time we're there - never know when the b***ers are going to get in touch again, though I think I should have about 7 years to go, please God(dess).

    We have taller than usual toilets as we refurbed (and extended) the house we live in now before we moved in. I didn't bother taking photos of those, and strangely the assessor actually believed me about those. :rofl: Or at least didn't question it.

    GP wrote a very supportive letter, but only after Mandatory Reconsideration - DWP don't seem to bother trying to collect more evidence until then. My next door neighbour wrote a letter for me, and my Counsellor (who I've been seeing intermittently since I first got ill) was able to confirm that my walking was gradually going downhill since she first met me, and that it was difficult for me to get from car to her front door (10 metres maybe) and I needed help.

    Oh, and don't forget you're under a time limit to say you want to go to Tribunal, though I've forgotten the exact rules you have longer to send your evidence in I think. I'm sure Benefits and Work have all the details on that. As with all things DWP it's all really convoluted! :eek:

    Good luck! :emoji_four_leaf_clover: And if you think I can help at all do either PM or tag me. Best wishes to you and your caree, and cyber hugs :hug: from Liverpool. :)
     
  9. hellytheelephant

    hellytheelephant Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Hi- I won my tribunal around this time last year. We had the help of the CAB and as others have said there are other organisations who will help. In essence it is a legal case, and without expert knowledge you are in the dark. It is won or lost on the technicalities of the applicant fulfilling the specific wording of specific areas- it is not a general overview.You also need as much expert evidence as possible ( GP, OT, Physio, specialists- to back you up.I think having someone who knows about these tribunals ensures things run smoothly.

    I would say it is essential that your carer attends. I am seriously affected by ME and other chronic conditions, and I do think that them seeing me lying on the floor with a blanket over me, very obviously looking terrible and clutching a hot water bottle was part of the reason it was awarded to me. I had a particularly painful day and just did what I would normally do- lay down, wore dark glasses, and my husband pushed me into the building in the wheelchair. ( It is really important to check the disability access prior to the tribunal- don't take it for granted). It was an exhausting process but I was asked if I wanted the lights dimmed and curtains closed ( I did), and the panel were kind. I was asked a lot of questions and just answered honestly. At the end I was asked if I would like to add anything. I was asked a couple of times if I wanted a break, but felt as if I was running on adrenaline and wanted to get it over.

    BTW: we were messed around with dates as the chair lift was out of order and I was asked if I was prepared to attend and walk down a couple of stairs. I refused. I don't know if this was a tactic or not. We had waited 18 for the date of the appeal and were desperate to get it over with. We asked if my husband and carer could represent me - they said no. He was also forbidden from speaking on my behalf when we were in there.

    All that said, I won- I went from no award at all, to the highest rate in both categories- which shows the unfairness of the system. Feel free to message me if you want to know anything else.

    Good luck!
     
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  10. Peter Trewhitt

    Peter Trewhitt Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    My experience was the same.

    The DWP awarded me no points on care needs and couple of points on mobility, I think though I may have misremembered, but definitely not enough points for an award for either component. The Tribunal panel said they stopped adding points for both when they reached the minimum required for the maximum awards on both, but indicated that had they continued their consideration my points total in both components would have been still higher.

    The difference between the Tribunal panel's assement and the DWP's was so extreme as to indicate a major problem in the process.
     
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  11. Wits_End

    Wits_End Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Thank you everyone for your support thus far. I may come back and pick up on individual bits of your posts when I'm not supposed to be working (ahem!), but one thing I will say now is that I *have* found this site extremely helpful, both the PDF file and the website itself:

    https://www.advicenow.org.uk/guides/how-win-pip-appeal

    It's not ME-specific, but it does answer a lot of the questions I had, and the letter-writing tool is very good too. In fact, had I found it before we did the reconsideration, I suspect we might not now be needing to appeal!
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2019
  12. Wonko

    Wonko Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    The mandatory reconsideration is just a tactic to time waste and put people off going to appeal. It is very, very rare for any decision to be changed during it. In my case the relevant sections were word for word as per the original decision, i.e. as if some computer had simply selected from the decision letter and then printed out the MR decision letter, with absolutely no human involvement at all.

    That is, the entire MR process is a con.
     
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  13. Diluted-biscuit

    Diluted-biscuit Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I think the only way you’d get a change at MR is if you included significant new medical evidence. Otherwise it’s just something to go through as wonko said. So don’t feel bad that you didn’t have more information at the time.
     
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  14. Wits_End

    Wits_End Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Well, I've got that out of the way for now, so here are some tips and recommendations from me:

    Government's own guide to benefit appeals is quite useful (plus you'll need it to start your appeal anyway):
    https://www.gov.uk/appeal-benefit-decision

    The DWP produces assessment guides:
    Part 1 goes into detail about how the Health Professional should conduct the assessment - you may be able to make a case if you can prove that it was not conducted in accordance with the guidelines.
    Part 2 gives the assessment criteria in detail, and indicates how many points you should be awarded for each descriptor.

    The AdviceNow website has a mandatory reconsideration letter generation tool which can also be adapted for the appeal stage:
    https://www.advicenow.org.uk/pip-tool
    It also produces a PDF document entitled "How to win a PIP appeal", which contains worked examples.

    Have just seen that AgeUk can possibly provide advice on this: caree just about qualifies, I think :) Otherwise, my locality seems to be short on people who can advise about appeals, and the CAB hasn't got back to me yet wrt my request for advice.

    The Benefits and Work website (forum and publications) has been very helpful:
    www.benefitsandwork.co.uk
    It does cost nearly £20 for a year's subscription, but I'd guess it's likely to be worth the investment in most cases.
    Publications (free to members) include Best Possible PIP Appeal Submissions (one of the worked examples being a sufferer from ME/CFS); Best Possible Ways to Challenge a PIP Medical Report (grounds of appeal with sample texts); a CFS diary template, etc.
    The forum is also particularly useful, although you should be aware that your posts will, initially at least, be moderated, and that the moderators are only available for a few hours, and not every day, so it may take time for your posts - and answers to them - to appear online.

    I didn't find the Turn2Us.org.uk website particularly helpful, nor the MEAssociation one.

    Hope this will be of benefit to someone else, too!
     
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  15. Wits_End

    Wits_End Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Unbelievable. Literally no sooner do I get shot of this appeal than a Capability for Work questionnaire arrives on the doormat. You couldn't make it up! This is really going to push her into a relapse - she was already exhausted from the appeal :(
     
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  16. Trish

    Trish Moderator Staff Member

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    Thank you for your very helpful summary of the resources you found useful for the PIP appeal.

    How horrible. They really have no heart.
    I assume this is for ESA?
    Good luck with it. I hope the info from Benefits and Work will be useful for filling it in.
     
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  17. Simbindi

    Simbindi Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Amber Rudd recently announced a proposal to combine the face to face assessments of PIP and ESA (or Universal Credit) into one:

    https://www.disabilitynewsservice.c...-crumbs-and-fears-of-a-trojan-horse-for-cuts/

    However, I believe this 'cross-referencing' has been happening 'informally' for years (as do others on the B & W site). When I first applied for ESA I was put in the WRAG, although my local Job Centre could see that I was not fit to engage in any 'work related activity' and never imposed any activity demands or any regular meetings on me. When I returned the re-assessment forms (about 2 years later) the DWP sat on them for a year. During that time I had applied for PIP, waiting 6 months for my face to face 'medical' assessment. This resulted in my being awarded the enhanced rates for both care and mobility. Within a couple of weeks of this decision I finally received communication about the ESA award. They moved me from the WRAG to the 'Support Group' without a further medical assessment.

    That was a some years ago and I haven't been reassessed for ESA since (my latest PIP award is one of the rare 'ongoing' ones, reviewed only every 10 years). So I do believe they look at the medical report of the PIP benefit to also inform the other ESA benefit (and almost certainly vice versa)!

    So it's really important to make sure both lots of forms are consistent in explaining symptoms and impact on daily living. Additionally, as the Benefits and Work site recommends, fill in the original forms assuming you will have to go to appeal (although hopefully you won't). That way, everything is in writing in a worse case scenario!

    Edited for typos
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019
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  18. Wits_End

    Wits_End Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Well, to be fair, I guess the ESA dept. and the PIP dept. probably don't cross-reference when they do stuff, and the PIP should have been way ahead of where it is now if there hadn't been a number of delays. It's just that it's 3 years since her last ESA assessment, so I guess it's time for another one, regardless.
     
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  19. longtermcase

    longtermcase Established Member

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    You seem to have been given all the pointers available. Living in London you have a tremendous advantage, because there are many avenues available to you that give free legal advice, support and representation that doesn't exist at all in other parts of England. Best of luck. Use everything you can get to help your case. I lost at Tribunal.
     
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  20. Wits_End

    Wits_End Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Oh dear, I'm so sorry :(

    Must admit, those "many avenues" don't appear to exist in my part of London :( I think I'd probably do better if I moved my house a couple of hundred yards down the road so that it was in a different borough.
     
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