Personal Independence Payment study shows claimants are confused, stressed and misled

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A report by The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has revealed that over one third of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claimants don’t appeal the decision made during the mandatory reconsideration (MR)  stage because the process would be too stressful. This comes as figures show that the DWP spent £200 million fighting disability appeals.

 

The report released by the DWP shows the results of the most recent survey conducted on PIP claimants about their thoughts on the claim process. It’s pretty damning for the government as it shows that people are scared to appeal because the “stress and anxiety that an appeal would cause would be detrimental to their condition.” I can vouch for that as I’m currently in the process of going to the tribunal in regards to my PIP decision. It is very stressful.

They say misconception, I say intentionally misled

Letter from DWP in which they say they are contacting my doctors.
Letter from DWP in which they say they are contacting my doctors.

When you fill in a form you are asked for details of the healthcare professionals who are involved in your care. In my opinion this give the claimant the idea that the DWP will contact them. To add to that  you get a letter stating;

“we’re asking for more information from people involved in your treatment or care.”

That gives the undisputable impression they are writing to the people you have listed. The report accurately points out that this is in-fact NOT the case.

“There was a widespread misconception (shown in the survey and the qualitative research) that DWP would gather medical evidence as part of the assessment process, partly because claimants were asked to provide contact details for their doctor on the ‘How your disability affects you’ questionnaire.”

They can call it a misconception but to me that’s blatantly misleading on purpose. The DWP have been aware of this issue for a very long time and still haven’t changed it. Remember my letter stating that they were writing to my doctors? Well it turns out that they didn’t. For a better explanation you can read what I wrote when my own Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) was rejected.

Stressful and confusing

Stressed man sitting with hand on head

The report outlines that 37% of claimant’s whose Mandatory Reconsideration was reject did not appeal the decision because “the process would be too stressful.” Personal Independence Payment deals with some of the most vulnerable in our society. You’d think that the appeals process would be simple and easy to understand. It’s not. For example if you want to got to a tribunal you must get the form by either downloading it and printing it or at some post offices.

People with mental health conditions may not be able to go to a post office because of anxiety and not everyone has a printer either so that’s immediately a barrier. Second and most importantly you have do it through The Courts and Tribunal Service. In my opinion this will no doubt intimidate people and put them off appealing.

The report highlights this by saying;

“The reasons identified in the qualitative research included not being able to get help to navigate the appeals process, the view that the stress and anxiety that an appeal would cause would be detrimental to their condition, and not having the physical and emotional energy that the appeals process was deemed to require.”

PIP is meant to be “tailored” to disabled people and that includes appealing a decision but it plainly isn’t. They have made it as intimidating and time consuming so as to put people off from the outset. What I would say though is that there are people out there that will help you with the process. It’s always worth appealing as the latest figures show that of those who go all the way to tribunal 71% are successful in have the DWP’s decision overturned. That brings me onto my next point.

Wasted money

Between 2013/14 and 2017/18 the DWP ran up an estimated £199million in cost when dealing with the two stages of PIP and ESA appeals. That’s nearly £200 million of taxpayer’s money wasted on appeals in which the DWP only win on average a one third of cases.

That money could be better invested into improving the welfare system for claimants with disabilities. It could replace the £30 disability premium that they axed in 2017. It could do a lot but the Tories have an openly hostile environment towards people with disabilities and can’t let anything slide.

A report by the UN committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) said successive UK governments had committed “grave” and “systematic” violations of disabled people’s human rights. The chair of the committee said the current government had created a “human catastrophe” for disabled people. The government’s response?

Wait a year to even respond to the report and then lie about the action they’ve taken.

That is the kind of government we have. Openly hostile to anyone who’s sick, disabled or can’t work for other reasons such as caring. As long as they can peddle false employment numbers they’re happy to take any criticism and just laugh in our faces.

Alex Tiffin

@RespectIsVital on Twitter

Universal Credit Sufferer on Facebook

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