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PIP / ESA Assessments ? Sanctions / Guardian / Private Eye & Other Articles - Page 4 - Carers UK Forum

PIP / ESA Assessments ? Sanctions / Guardian / Private Eye & Other Articles

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From my numerous experiences with numerous medical professionals post accident I have experienced some of them expressing their own personal politics or plain bigotry towards me as a disabled person. One of the key parts of being a qualified and accredited professional is that you never allow your own personal thoughts or personal opinions abut your customer to impose upon or influence your work for the company or your customer.
That is one of the fundamental differences between professionals and non professionals.

IMHO if any professional allows their own personal prejudices to impose upon their work that they should be subject to a disciplinary conduct panel.

Just because I am disabled doesn't mean I am stupid. But there is no justice anyway. We are barred from access to justice that is a basic human right.

We are easy targets.
PIP announcement should mean more claimants are spared reassessments.

Work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd has announced measures that should mean fewer disabled people are forced to undergo unnecessary benefit reassessments.

Sarah Newton, the minister for disabled people, announced in June that new claimants of personal independence payment (PIP) with the “most severe, lifelong conditions” who were awarded the highest level of support and whose needs were not expected to decrease would only receive a “light touch” review of their award every 10 years.

Rudd (pictured) said this week that this measure would be extended to existing PIP claimants.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said this was to “ensure that for disabled people who need extra support, the system is designed to be as seamless as possible while minimising any unnecessary stress or bureaucracy”.

Guidance for PIP case managers on which new PIP claimants will qualify for the “light touch” review and an “ongoing” award was published quietly by DWP in August.

The guidance does not mention any particular conditions.

Instead, it says such an award should be made if “the claimant’s restrictions on Daily Living and/or Mobility are stable and unlikely to change significantly or they have very high levels of needs which will only deteriorate” or if “the claimant is awarded enhanced/enhanced and their needs are not going to improve or would only deteriorate”.

Newton’s announcement in June was seen by some as another move back towards disability living allowance (DLA), the benefit PIP is replacing for working-age claimants.

One of the key reasons that ministers gave for introducing PIP was that DLA supposedly allowed claimants to secure unchecked “welfare for life” because of the lack of repeat assessments.

Esther McVey, who quit as work and pensions secretary last month, made the claim herself five years ago in a bid to justify the introduction of PIP and proposed cuts of 20 per cent.

But Jenny Morris, who helped write the Labour government’s Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People white paper, said in June that people were placed on lifetime DLA awards “for very good reasons” and all the government had done by introducing PIP and its frequent reassessments in 2013 was to “create extra costs for themselves”.

She said that the “light touch” announcement showed the government had spent years and wasted hundreds of millions of pounds on its PIP reforms, while exposing people to assessments that were “very oppressive and upsetting”.

This week, one disabled people’s organisation, Buckinghamshire Disability Service (BuDS), suggested that Rudd’s announcement should be treated “very cautiously”.

BuDS said that 18 per cent of PIP claimants already receive lifetime awards, and it added: “The chances are that this announcement will make very little difference for most people.”

A DWP spokeswoman said: “The guidance change has not been in place long enough for us to provide estimates of how many people may gain.”
That sounds like good news Chris.
One of our mates had his DLA removed via a letter from the DWP, they just decided he didn't need it anymore out of the blue.
However he explained by letter as least sarcastically as he could that his missing leg wasn't going to grow back again anytime soon.
They soon reinstated his DLA. ;)
My son had a "Lifeime" award for highest DLA Care and Mobility, in recognition of the fact that he was brain damaged for life. When PIP was introduced to replace DLA, this "Lifetime" award ended.
I wonder if, in time, the government will reitroduce this classification. It really upsets me to go over the same ground because a new form has been introduced.
bowlingbun wrote:
Sat Dec 22, 2018 8:06 am
My son had a "Lifeime" award for highest DLA Care and Mobility, in recognition of the fact that he was brain damaged for life. When PIP was introduced to replace DLA, this "Lifetime" award ended.
I wonder if, in time, the government will reitroduce this classification. It really upsets me to go over the same ground because a new form has been introduced.
I had the lifetime DLA award before pips, with higher rate mobility and lower rate of care.

Although a lifetime award is not available yet on pip, you can get what the dwp call an indefinite award which is for 10 years but they can still retest you during that time. That is what they gave me.
I'll check the wording on my letter but I think it said an "indefinite award".
The DWP has issued new guidance to PIP Decision Makers on how to set the length of a claimant’s PIP award.

The new guidance advises that PIP award lengths are based on a range of factors including the claimant’s condition(s), the needs arising and whether or when those needs may change, (taking into account such matters as planned treatment/therapy or learning/adapting to manage a condition).

When setting an award period Decision Makers are told that they must consider the claimant’s health condition(s), and the needs arising .

And that the evidence they should consider can come from :

the claimant’s questionnaire

any other evidence provided – this includes evidence provided by the claimant and evidence collected by the Assessment Provider (AP);

and the AP recommendations and advice.

In terms of length, the guidance says that a PIP award period can be from a minimum of 9 months to an indefinite (“on-going award”) but with a 10 year Award Review date.

The DWP says that “on-going awards” for claimants can be reached in one of two ways :

following advice from the AP that no review is required and the claimant’s restrictions on Daily Living/ and or Mobility are stable and unlikely to change significantly or they have very high levels of needs which will only deteriorate;

and where the claimant is awarded enhanced/enhanced and their needs are not going to improve or would only deteriorate.

In a recent Parliamentary answer, the Minister for Disabled People Sarah Newton revealed that for the period between April 2013 and April 2018, revealed that only 18.1% of PIP awards have been for an indefinite period. Also that 82.8% PIP awards have been made for 3.5 years or less and that 23% of PIP were made for just 1.5 years or less.
Better news ... for some :

Pensioners freed from disability benefits reviews, says Rudd.

Minister’s overhaul of personal independence payments does not go far enough, say charities.

Hundreds of thousands of pensioners will no longer have to undergo reviews to carry on getting their disability benefits, Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary, will say on Tuesday.

Rudd is to announce the overhaul of personal independence payments (Pip) for older people, after years of complaints about the system, which requires many claimants to repeatedly prove their entitlement to benefits.

The decision means around 270,000 pensioners who are in receipt of personal independence payments will carry on getting them without having to be reassessed in future.

Rudd will make the announcement in her first speech on disability benefits since being appointed.

A source in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said she wanted to take the government’s welfare policy in a more compassionate direction. Last month, she conceded the rollout of universal credit had contributed to an increase in food bank use, going back on previous ministerial denials.

Rudd, who is considered a potential Tory leadership contender, will use the speech to reflect on her own family’s experience of disabilities.

“My father became blind in 1981. For thirty-six years his blindness was a normal part of my family’s life. Of my life,” she will say.

“I reflected on my father’s lack of sight, and how it affected his life and the lives of those who loved him, as I considered my role in supporting disabled people in Britain.

“Disabled pensioners have paid into our system for their whole lives and deserve the full support of the state when they need it most.

“This government therefore intends to change the landscape for disabled people in Britain: to level the terrain and smooth their path.

“The changes I am setting out today, including stopping unnecessary reassessments for disabled pensioners, are a step forward in improving quality of life for the UK’s 14 million disabled people.”

The personal independence payment is a benefit that helps disabled people with the extra costs associated with their health condition, with recipients getting up to £145.35 a week.

The system has been heavily criticised for forcing claimants to undergo repeated reviews, which can be ordered at any time by the DWP but usually occur a year before a time-limited award is due to end.

Mark Hodgkinson, the chief executive at disability equality charity Scope, which is hosting the speech, called on Rudd to extend the reforms.

“We welcome today’s announcements on Pip but a more radical overhaul of the Pip and ESA [Employment and Support Allowance] tests is needed and we would urge the secretary of state to commit to this further reform,” he said.

“It’s particularly important to improve our benefits system because life costs more if you are disabled. From heating to equipment costs, Scope research shows that disabled people face extra costs adding up to on average £583 per month.

“Disabled people also want to see action taken to scrap counterproductive benefit sanctions. They make it harder for disabled people to get into work.”
Frances Ryan has her say on the recent PIP announcement :

Rudd’s disability benefits move is nothing more than political gaslighting.

Ending reviews for older people’s Pip is simply the government trying to hide its grossly negligent decisions.

Watching the government spin over anything from Brexit offers to money for deprived towns, there is an analogy that keeps coming to mind: a doctor amputates someone’s leg for no discernible reason, and then, when she notices the wound is bleeding, expects applause for offering a plaster.

This image came to mind again today with work and pensions boss Amber Rudd’s announcement of reforms to the disability benefits system, including freeing disabled pensioners from “unnecessary benefit checks”.

Under the policy, 270,000 older people will not have personal independence payments (Pip) regularly reviewed, and may be able to fill in a form rather than seeing an assessor in person. In a speech on Tuesday to the disability charity Scope, Rudd is also set to announce a small-scale trial to test the feasibility of bringing together the Pip tests and work capability assessments into one – the disaster-strewn test that determines whether a disabled person is “fit for work”.

Rudd is right to acknowledge the physical and mental impact of repeated benefit tests on disabled people.

But then, she should know – it was her party who brought them in for everybody. Before it was abolished and replaced by the “tougher” Pip in 2013 by David Cameron’s coalition, for years, disability living allowance provided “lifetime awards” of benefits, meaning someone like me with a genetic and unchanging condition could receive support without being needlessly retested again and again. Similarly, it was sometimes possible to provide medical evidence without the need for a pointless face-to-face assessment.

To rightwing politicians and press, during the early austerity years, such awards became the poster child of the “out of control” disability benefits bill. As Iain Duncan Smith told the Telegraph at the time, disabled people on lifetime benefits “were just allowed to fester”. It is now standard practice for a disabled person to go through 18 months fighting to get their rightful benefits – from application, assessment, rejection, and tribunal appeal – only to then have to start the whole thing all over again when a brown envelope arrives to say they’re due for another assessment.

This would be torturous for anyone – but imagine if you’re forced to do this while struggling in pain, exhausted, or racked with anxiety. Only yesterday on Twitter I saw a film of a young woman with ME going into violent spasms due to the stress of her Pip assessment. If it is cruel and unnecessary to put older disabled people through this, then there is no logical reason why it is humane and necessary to do it to younger people.

Rudd, then, is simply offering a diluted version of a policy that was already in place until her colleagues destroyed it – while disabled people of any age were once eligible to avoid retesting, now only a small section will be.

Her reasoning – that “disabled pensioners have paid into our system for their whole lives and deserve the full support of the state when they need it most” – may seem logical, as it speaks to a narrative central to the welfare state: that each of us “pay in” and then “get something out”. But it is a dangerous mindset, implying people who are so ill that they can’t ever work from an early age are somehow less deserving of our support.

Meanwhile, the piloting of merging Pip tests with “fit-for-work” exams is ominous. There could be some merit it to if the test being used were trustworthy – but Rudd is proposing to simply join up two equally inaccurate tests, aimed at assessing two very different things. I frequently hear from disabled people who are assessed as eligible for Pip, but given zero points for employment support allowance, or vice versa.

It is already scary enough that one exam determines whether someone has enough money to eat for the next year, imagine the pressure if one faulty exam determined a disabled person’s entire income. To anyone who doubts this, the fiasco of universal credit should offer a warning over how drives to “simplify” the benefit often work in practice.

Reform of the disability benefits system is vital, and long overdue. As Rudd herself is due to say: “The benefits system should be the ally of disabled people” that protects us when we need it most. But today’s announcement does nowhere near enough to achieve that. Worse, it is yet more smoke and mirrors to hide the grossly negligent decisions that led us here.

It is akin to political gaslighting, in which a minister proudly delivers a new policy, insisting it will make life better for disabled people, when they are in fact simply tweaking the disastrous measures they themselves have forced onto us. Disabled people of all ages urgently need accurate assessments, logical exemptions from retesting, and a more efficient, humane process. Another grand speech by this government will get us nowhere.
" Misleading " DWP letter causing ill and disabled people to lose benefits.

Advice removed for GPs to provide notes for patients challenging fit-for-work tests.

Chronically ill and disabled people are being left for months without benefits because officials are sending “misleading” letters to their GPs saying they no longer need to supply medical evidence on behalf of patients who are declared fit for work.

Campaigners and MPs have called for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) form letter to be scrapped after it emerged claimants appealing against a fit-for-work decision were left near-destitute after their GPs refused to provide “fit notes” because they were advised they did not need to.

Claimants who challenge work capability assessment (WCA) decisions are entitled to continue to receive employment and support allowance (ESA) worth £73.10 a week while they await their appeal hearing, but to do so they must obtain fit notes from their GPs to prove they are too ill to work.

It has emerged that ministers ordered changes to the standard-issue letter to remove references that made it clear to GPs they may have to issue a medical statement if their patient wished to appeal against a WCA decision. The DWP claims this was not intended to dissuade GPs from issuing fit notes.

Raji Hunjan, the chief executive of the advice charity Z2K, said the effect of the revised letter could be devastating. “We have seen how our clients, who are seriously ill, suddenly have zero income, become reliant on food bank vouchers and loans, and face a very real threat of homelessness.”

Z2K said one of its clients, called “Louis”, was refused a fit note by his GP while appealing against a WCA decision. He ran up rent arrears and became reliant on food banks before he was eventually able to switch GPs and get the medical statement he needed to claim benefits. After an eight-month wait, he won his appeal.

Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, the chair of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), said the lack of clarity over when GPs should issue fit notes could put patients’ finances and health at risk. “No GP wants that, and it only serves to threaten the long-standing trust that patients have in their family doctor.”

The WCA is hugely controversial because of widespread concern over its accuracy and reliability. Nationally, 72% of claimants who appeal against their WCA decision are successful. Z2K said nine out of every 10 WCA cases it takes to appeal are successful.

Last month, there was national outrage over the case of Stephen Smith, 64, who was deemed fit for work despite suffering from multiple debilitating illnesses, having his weight plummet to 38kg (6 stone) and being barely able to walk. Smith won his appeal after waiting 12 months for a hearing.

The standard letter, called an ESA65B, is sent automatically to the GPs of all claimants who fail a WCA and are declared fit enough to work. Until 2017 the letter advised GPs that if their patient appealed against the WCA decision they must continue to provide fit notes.

However, on ministers’ orders, the letter now states that GPs “do not need to provide any more fit notes for ESA purposes”. It does not mention the possibility that the patient may appeal, or that a fit note is needed for the patient to obtain ESA payments until the appeal is heard.

Frank Field, the chair of the work and pensions select committee, raised the issue with the then disability minister Sarah Newton in January. Newton replied that the wording was amended “to make the letter simpler and clearer”, adding that DWP communications were intended to be “clear, understandable and fit for purpose”.

Field replied scathingly that the wording was “not having the desired effect”, and urged her to revise it to make clear ESA claimants on appeal were entitled to fit notes. “This simple step could greatly ease the stress and worry that people who are awaiting an appeal experience.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “These letters simply inform GPs when a claimant has been found fit for work and are not intended to dissuade them from issuing fit notes for ESA appeal purposes, to claim otherwise is inaccurate.”

However, they hinted the letter may be changed: “We are committed to ensuring our communication is clear, which is why the wording of this letter was cleared by both the British Medical Association and the RCGP. However, we will of course consider feedback when revising the letter.”

It is unclear on what basis the RCGP agreed to the new wording as the change was agreed at a DWP stakeholder meeting for which, according to the Field-Newton correspondence, there appear to be no formal minutes.
" The power to wreck your life " : Tens of thousands of disabled people denied benefits for extra month.

Exclusive: " I couldn’t understand how I’d gone from lifetime support to a reduced award when my symptoms had gotten worse."

Tens of thousands of disabled people are being left out of pocket for increasing lengths of time while they wait for wrongly refused benefit claims to be overturned, The Independent has learned.

New figures show the average wait for the first round of an appeal against a rejected personal independence payment (Pip) claim has soared from 29 days to 54 days in the year to January.

Campaigners said the surge in waiting times was a “cruel irony” as the overwhelming majority of people who take their cases to tribunal go on to win, while claimants said the process “compounded” the health issues they were suffering.

People who believe they have been wrongly denied Pip – a new benefit introduced in 2013 – can launch an appeal, for which they must first go through an internal system in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) called “mandatory reconsideration”.

In total, 292,880 mandatory reconsiderations were registered in the year to January 2019.

DeeDee Morgan, 53, had her disability award reduced when she transferred from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Pip in 2017, and had to wait six weeks for her mandatory reconsideration to be processed – at which point the DWP reinstated her original support.

The northwest London resident, who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS), was in hospital at the time after having a relapse, and said the long wait “only compounded what I was already suffering”.

“I was in hospital, stressed out, ill, thinking I was going to be worse off financially. I was just thinking about how I was going to cut back. Everything costs more when you’re disabled,” she said.

“Six weeks may not seem that long, but for me at the time it felt like a very long time. You have this dread of the brown envelope coming … That brown envelope has the power to wreck your life. I was just waiting with anxiety for it to come.

“I couldn’t understand how I’d gone from lifetime support to a reduced award when my symptoms had gotten worse. It was unnecessary stress. They had enough information there to make that decision in the first place.”

One in five (19 per cent) mandatory considerations for new Pip claims and 24 per cent of those for reassessed DLA claims resulted in a reversal of the decision.

Among the thousands who were unsuccessful in their mandatory reconsideration and proceeded to take their case to court, 73 per cent go on to win their appeals at tribunal – casting doubt over the accuracy of decision-making.

Labour MP Stephanie Peacock, who obtained the figures through a written parliamentary question, said: “This latest disturbing rise in waiting times as the DWP reconsiders its own decisions is yet another sign that the most vulnerable are paying the price for Tory cuts.

“People in desperate need of basic support just to go about their daily lives should not be left without it simply because of this government’s failure.”

Shadow work and pensions secretary Marsha de Cordova said the figures revealed the “shocking failure” of the system, and added: “Disabled people are being forced to wait almost eight weeks for mandatory reconsiderations that all too often fail to act as a proper check on the flawed assessment process.”

Genevieve Edwards, director of external affairs at the MS Society, said: “Pip is difficult enough without these unacceptable waiting times making it even harder.

“MS can be painful and exhausting, and when mandatory reconsiderations needlessly drag out the Pip process, the stress can actually make MS worse.

“These delays are a cruel irony when you consider eight in 10 people with MS who’ve been reassessed and take their case to tribunal after mandatory reconsideration go on to win.

“It shows how badly the system is broken, and how meaningless going through these hurdles is. Pip urgently needs to change, so people with MS can get the support they need without having to fight every inch of the way.”

James Taylor, head of policy at disability equality charity Scope, said long waits for Pip were “simply unacceptable” and called on the DWP to “urgently regain control” of the situation.

“Delays to Pip decisions can force disabled people to make more difficult decisions about what they have to go without. It’s vital that disabled people get the support they need, when they need it,” he added.

A DWP spokesperson said: “We are committed to processing Pip claims quickly and fairly, which is why we’ve recruited extra staff to ensure people get their Pip decision promptly.”

The work and pensions secretary recently said the number of people having their Pip decision overturned was too high, and that the department would do more to gather the evidence required to make the right decision earlier.