Two in Three Personal Independence Payment decisions overturned at Tribunal since 2013

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A Freedom of Information request has shown that since Personal Independence Payment (PIP) came into being in 2013, over two-thirds of cases that go to Tribunal result in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decision being overturned. This will come as no surprise as the number of decisions emerging in favour of the claimant has always been high. What is alarming is that only 9% of claimants appeal their original decision.

The Freedom of Information (FoI) request submitted by James Brook on WhatDoTheyKnow.com asked for the “PIP appeal rates based upon the claimants primary disability” since 2013.

The DWP did respond with data of both the Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) and Tribunal decision numbers by health conditions but were keen to add a misleading comment as a caveat.

“There have been 3.475 million claims for PIP from April 2013 to June 2018.
Appeals were lodged for 9% of those claims only and 4% decisions were
overturned.”

An Attempt to Mislead

Now when you read that you think; ‘oh they must be getting the decisions correct most of the time.’ Well they’re not. The data shows clearly that Mandatory Reconsiderations are predominately change, although this does not always result in a higher award for the claimant.

PIP Mandatory Reconsiderations  March 2013 to June 2018

Now looking at this data, much more than 4% of Mandatory Reconsiderations (MR) were overturned. Maybe the DWP meant the number of Tribunals overturning their decision was 4%. 

I think it is important to note the large of number decisions that were changed but didn’t affect the claimants award level. While it may haven’t of changed anything in monetary terms, it still shows that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) cannot competently carry out the assessment process. Claimants are having to put in their own leg work to provide evidence that the Health Assessments should have picked up.

I should know, I’m currently going to Tribunal because Atos did a PIP assessment on me with my 6 complex health conditions without requesting my medical records or a doctors report. My Mandatory Reconsideration was rejected because they stated they don’t have to get the records.

One very important thing to note is that Atos sent me a letter stating they were contacting all my health professionals listed on my application. Now they tell me they didn’t and don’t have to. The term maladministration comes to mind. 

Tribunal decisions 2013 – 2018  

As you can see there’s definitely a lot more than 4% of decisions being overturned by HM Courts and Tribunal Service. The exact number of decisions the Tribunal overturned between April 2013 and June 2018 was 126,880 which equates to 67.02% of all claims put into the Tribunal.

A two in three chance of winning is good odds in any game.

So why did the DWP say 4%? Well it’s simple really; to mislead anyone reading it. What they mean is;

  • Of the 3.475 million people that claimed PIP since April 2013, 9% of them have made an appeal.
  • Of the 3.475 million decisions made by the DWP 4% were overturned.

So yes, of ALL the Personal Independence (PIP) claims made; 4% were overturned. Importantly though, out of everyone who appealed 67.02% were successful in having the Department for Work and Pensions decision overturned.

The reason I believe the DWP used the 4% figure is to put claimants off from appealing. If they knew they had a two in three chance of winning more would likely appeal.

Mental Health conditions top the list again.

Mental health conception on white background

As you can see from the graph above, claimants with a psychological condition are far more likely to appeal their PIP decision and well over half of them are successful at the Tribunal stage. I previously wrote how Universal Credit claimants with a Mental Health condition are five times, (yes five), more likely to be sanctioned than those with any other health condition. 

What’s worries me is the question of how many aren’t appealing but should be? Going to tribunal is an incredibly stressful thing to do. Claimants with a mental health condition are automatically at a disadvantage from the get go. Every health condition has its issues, I’m not lessening anything here, but in this scenario added stress could exacerbate their condition with fatal consequences.

Yes there are third sector agencies like Citizens Advice but many people don’t feel confident enough to contact them and if they do they could be on a massive waiting list.

The appeals system is unfit for purpose. Firstly we’re expected to believe that the DWP will police itself with Mandatory Reconsiderations and failing that claimants have to go through a stressful, potentially costly and confusing tribunal system.

Not to mention the various stages after a Tribunal that you can take but even the strong willed are put off that.

My advice

I only have one piece of advice and that it; appeal your decision. If you don’t feel you can do it yourself there are plenty of agencies that will help you. Look up advice groups in your local area, some local authorities even have departments that will assist.

With two in three chance of winning the odds are stacked highly in your favour. There’s a lot of help out there even for people who can’t leave home. I understand, and I really do, how stressful it can be, and that’s why I recommend you ALWAYS seek help to challenge the DWP.

The fact that only 9% of claimants challenged their decisions is disheartening as it means that there is certainly people who have suffered. T

he blame is not with them for not appealing.

The blame is with Iain Duncan Smith, Esther McVey and the DWP for making it such a hostile environment for those with disabilities and long term health conditions.

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