My PIP home assessment & my advice to others facing one

So I thought that I would share my experience of a Personal Independence Payment – PIP home assessment and some tips on how you can make sure you get a fair shout.

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So I recently got my award for Personal Independence Payment – PIP. While I am relieved that I was awarded the enhance rate of mobility, meaning I won’t lose my my motability car, I am upset that they have called me a liar regarding my mental health.

My assessment was arranged for Monday at 9am and they called me the Friday before to confirm that this was ok and that the assessor would call before they arrive.

Fast forward to Monday morning and I am startled by a bang bang bang on my door. It’s 8.30am surely they’re not that early I thought. I was still in bed, as I often am, so I had to haul myself out as quickly as I could and get to the door.

Tip 1. Always have someone with you.

I am fairly cut off if I’m honest and wasn’t able to find anyone to be there. In hindsight this was a big mistake. I’m a fairly anxious person in real life and when you’re startled by door banging before you even get going it was never going to go well.

I was greeted by a man let’s call him Mark. He said he was here to assess me and asked to come in and then proceeded to walk through anyway before I’d really answered.

Tip 2. Have ID ready the night before

 

He sat down and the first thing he did was show me his ID. Well I say ID it was a blank white card that said “Atos.”

He then asked for mine. I was lucky that my wallet was close by or I’d have been in trouble. After barely glancing at it he whipped his laptop out and started explaining that he’d ask me questions and I just answer truthfully.

Tip 3. They’re not doctors so don’t expect them to understand everything

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Contrary to popular belief Atos and Capita do not use doctors to assess someone’s health. They use a mixture of Nurses, Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists instead. Not the wisest move in my opinion.

As I have said before I suffer from Functional Neurological Disorder – FND and Borderline Personality Disorder. I doubt that Mark’s occupational therapist training concentrated hard on these conditions, but hey maybe I’m wrong…

It was clear from the first question of; “Tell me what you suffer from that it was going to be a struggle.” He immediately asked me what FND even was.

Cue me trying to explain a complex psychological and neurological condition while simultaneously turning into a stuttering mess. All you can see is them typing away and facial expressions of doubt.

Tip 4. Write down answers beforehand

When you’re explaining how each condition affects you an example is always expected. My mind went completely blank. I knew in my head what I wanted to say but it got lost somewhere on the way to my mouth.

This results in them asking you a leading question like; “so it only affects you a bit.” 

Tip 5. Remember they are not on your side, if they can minimise your condition they will.

Mark was the king of minimising and diminishing my health conditions. Regarding my mental health, I stated that have have made several suicide attempts that have resulted in hospitalisation and that yes I do still get suicidal thoughts. His response?

Well your last one was March so you seem ok now.”

I was really upset by this and I can see from my decision letter this has been used against me.

Tip 6. Be firm if you can’t do something.

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Mark was a little pushy if I’m honest. As you all know I am wheelchair bound. I cannot walk, I cannot feel anything below my knees in both legs. He asked me SIX time to stand up.

I explained that I cannot walk or stand but he just didn’t seem to get it. “But you can sometimes no?” By this point I was really upset and wishing I had someone there.

You must be firm and say I cannot do that or if I do that it will hurt me. You’re not obliged to do anything that will cause you pain.

When he finally decided to stop that line of questioning he took out a tailors measuring tape and proceeded to measure my calf. No he didn’t’ warn me either.

I have found that this is Atos and the Department for Work and Pensions way of checking whether wheelchair users are lying. If you’re calf circumference is over a limit they set, they can ask for more information to see if you are feigning.

Not only is this a ridiculous way of checking but it has now put me off carrying out physiotherapy on my legs. Whilst I cannot walk it’s still important to keep my leg muscles as healthy as possible to maintain good blood flow and general health.

If I had intensive physio and my calves were over their limit I’d be called a liar.

The only other assessment was lifting my hands to shoulder height and having him push down to check my resistance.

My result and Conclusion

Alexander Tiffin

I received my decision last week and I previously wrote, I was awarded the enhanced rate of mobility and the standard rate of daily living.

The reason they have given me the standard rate of daily living is because the assessor stated that I was relaxed calm, made good eye contact and interacted well.

They say that although my health professional aka my psychiatrist has stated I suffer difficulties, they are basing their decision on the assessors report.

This is why having somewhere there is the MOST important tip I can give you. I sat there, nervous, sweating and stuttering looking at the the floor most of the time. I find social interaction with strangers very hard and upsetting. Especially when they arrive early and startle me.

I have asked for a mandatory reconsideration purely because my mental health is a major part of how I live my life and affects me in many ways.

Just remember you do not have to do anything you don’t feel comfortable with or that will cause you pain. You can be firm while remaining polite.

Hopefully these simple tips will help you in getting the help you need and deserve.

Alex Tiffin

Call on the Government to act to help foodbanks

Just a quick request. I have set up a petition demanding the government provide immediate emergency funding to foodbanks. I would be really grateful if you could sign it and share with your friends and family.

For too long Foodbanks have been doing the government’s work for free. They rely on the goodwill of the public. The government has caused the rapid rise of food poverty and it long due they help now.

Please click here to be taken to the petition.

Thanks Alex

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One comment

  1. Tip 1 & 2 If someone turns up at an early hour then says they are here to access me I would say “I was supposed to receive a call before you arrived” and as for ID he would have been asked for ID before they even got through the door, in fact I would have kept the door closed and asked them through it. Have you ever thought of investing in a Smart doorbell cheap ones start at below £100. Get a friend to install it then all you have to do is use the phone or APP if anyone rings it

    Tip 3 They certainly are not doctors, Alex, if given a chance ask them if they know exactly what your condition is and the common symptoms and side effects of the condition and the meduication? in 2007 I had a GP access me for IB and even she had never heard of my illness, HHT (Hereritary Heamoragic Telectansiatasia) and basically said as much needless to say I didn’t get enough points for IB and intened to rip them apart at the tribunal but got so used to P155ING OFF the jobcentre I decided to keep up P155ING them OFF. They use Nurses, Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists and even they will only have read about many of the many conditions they assess. I would love just 1 to turn up at a tribunal hearing to answer the questions I have for them, never mind the decision makers! If they don’t turn up then I go after the medical person on the panel, they haven’t a clue about what the HP read on the claimants condition, or any of the other stuff I ask they can only assume! What I say about an ASSUMPTION is that it is the mother of all F*CK UPS.

    Tip 4 Writing your answers can help but you cannot really be sure what they will ask. Some people put everything in the ESA or PIP form so when they are asked how it affects this or that they say “I refer to the form, that they have not read, then go on and read word for word their answer in the form” The short version is “As it says on the form!” I avoid most of their questions as everything is Direct Debit and shopping is done online. Some try repeatedly asking the same question or a varient of the same question, like if you forgot an item would you go and get it when you needed it? Answer NO! because I wouldn’t waste money on making up the minimum order value just to get one item. They them put things like claimant regularly goes shopping.

    Tip 5 I already know they’re not on our side, I have been to enough ESA & PIP assessments to know that. I hate their fakery with a passion, they act like they are friends but anyone can see they are not. I remember my first DLA assessment we had a guard dog and put him out of the way as we knew he would attack the person asked to use the bathroom half way through. We knew he wasn’t going to the bathroom because he shut the living room door then we heard him scream OH SHIT! Get him off! I told the wife to leave him he went snooping if he had gone where he asked there wouldn’t have been any trouble as the dog was in our bedroom. He even saw it put in there through the bungalow window. he came back in asked one question then said he had enough then left. Would you believe me if I said I got the full DLA Mobility and middle care?

    Tip 6 You really do have to be firm with them they will say can you do this, just try, just a little bit! I always say no then the second time say I already told you no it would cause me pain and suffering, if they say a third time ask if they want the CEO to get a complaint about you trying to force me to do something that would cause me unnecessary pain?’
    One person said the first and second pieces then lost it on the third and started swearing every other word at the assessor, he didn’t know what to do so got up and left. We complained that after being told several times this wheelchair bound person couldn’t do what was repeatedly asked of them he continued to ask until they lost their temper and started swearing at them. this person got a letter 5 days later, or about that, saying they didn’t qualify for it. This was before all the Tory Con (Mandatory Reconsideration) BS. They then get another letter saying they are in the support group, they didn’t know which to believe but on checking the bank account they had a large deposit for ESA SG.

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