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14 January 2015 Newsletter

Will Claimants Votes Decide the Election? PIP Updates. From Spartacus to Maximus.

“brilliant site, guides, advice and support” . . . “So much stress and worry have just evaporated” . . .“having the guides gave me the confidence and ability to tackle the forms correctly” . . . “I feel as if a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders” . . . “This is by far the best money ever spent” . . . “it means so much to not only me but my whole family”

Detailed feedback at the end of this newsletter

You can read this newsletter online

Dear [fname],

With general election campaigning now in full swing, our very brief General Election Survey has just 8 questions we'd be really grateful if you could answer, covering two topics.

Bar chart: Con majority vs Claimant count Amber ValleyFirstly, we’d like to know whether, as a claimant or carer, you think life has got better or worse under the Coalition.

Secondly, we’d like to know whether you voted in the last election and whether you plan to vote in the upcoming one – and why?

The survey is absolutely anonymous and we’ll share the results with you in the next newsletter.

You can go directly to our General Election Survey or you can read more about the survey first.

We’ve updated our article originally published in January of last year looking at whether claimants could choose the next government, adding more recent claimant count statistics. Once we have the results of our survey we’ll be in a better position to answer that question.

We’ve also updated our PIP guide to include information about:

  • the growing use of ESA medical reports to make PIP decisions and vice versa – we look at which ESA activities are most likely to be taken into account;
  • the increasing use of telephone calls in addition to, or in place of, face to face PIP assessments – we look at what your options are to try to avoid calls or to make the best use of them;
  • a discrepancy between the distances for walking given in the PIP form and the actual legal test;
  • the ending of decision makers phone calls where an award hasn’t been made.

Members can download the latest PIP guide by logging in and going to the PIP section of the members area.

Turning to ESA, the decision by Sue Marsh, disability campaigner (We Are Spartacus) and blogger (Diary of A Benefit Scrounger) to take a high profile job as Head of Customer Experience with Atos’ replacement Maximus, has attracted a huge amount of attention amongst disability activists.

Reactions to the switch range from admiration for such a bold move, through bewilderment and on to hate-filled outrage at such perceived treachery.

When the dust has settled, the big question is likely to be whether Maximus:

a) Have neutralised a leading campaigner against the WCA and left activists in disarray – the We Are Spartacus website is down at the time of writing (correction - it's not down, we had an out-of-date URL, it's here); or

b) Have single-handedly succeeded in galvanising and uniting both moderate and more radical protestors into one seething ball of rage against Maximus, before they even take over the WCA contract in March.

The proposed day of action against Maximus being organised by DPAC for 2 March will be the first test of which way things have gone.

One thing is certain: the next few months are going to be crucial for the lives of millions of claimants for years to come.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

PIP Christmas success
“… Christmas Eve morning the Brown Envelope landed on the floor, i debated whether to open it half the day as i didn't want xmas spoiled, but to my pleasure my son is awarded Enhanced Care and Mobility which is higher than his DLA award. I could not imagine getting this award without the help of your excellent sight and must give many many thanks.”

Give yourself the best possible chance of getting the right decision, whether you’re making a claim, renewing an existing award or asking for a reconsideration or appeal. Subscribe now and get instant access to all our guides.

If you’re not already a member, join the Benefits and Work community before midnight on Friday and you can get 20% off the cost of your annual subscription.

Just type the following code into the coupon box when you pay: 7842

Claimants and carers get an annual subscription for £15.96, down from £19.95. Professionals get an annual subscription for £77.60, down from £97.00.
Offer ends midnight Friday

Call for publication of review into man who killed himself after benefits cut
The sister of a partially sighted man who killed himself after his benefits were cut is calling on the UK government to publish details of its review into his case, one of 60 internal investigations of suicides linked to benefit changes it has carried out since 2012.

Statistics on having your WCA audio recorded
The DWP have released statistics on the number of work capability assessments (WCA) that have been recorded between December 2012 and February 2014.

Government urged to suspend benefit sanctions regime
Pleas to the government to suspend its benefit sanctions regime pending a fundamental review of its impact – especially on the mentally ill and disabled – were made at the first session of a broad inquiry by the department of work and pensions select committee.

Employees cannot be forced onto Fit For Work scheme
Guidance issued by the DWP last week on the new Fit for Work scheme makes it clear that referrals can only be made to the scheme with the consent of the employee. It also makes it clear that most health assessments will be carried out over the telephone.

Atos and Capita accused of poaching paramedics to cut benefits instead of saving lives
An NHS whistleblower has claimed that the A&E crisis is being made worse because highly trained NHS paramedics across the country are being poached by Atos and Capita to do assessments for personal independence payment (PIP), instead of saving lives.

Below is a selection of recent email and forum feedback we’ve received from members. Please do keep your feedback coming either in the forum or by email. It really does make a difference to people. As one member told us:

“I know I found the positive feedback on your site very encouraging during a previous review of my DLA and my more recent experience of having to migrate from Incapacity Benefit to ESA.”

ESA Support Group success!
“Thankyou soooo much !!! I've received letter today I've been placed in the support group without an interview , this is wonderful news for me the nightmare is over fingers crossed ....”

ESA Support Group transfer from SDA
“The age of miracles is not past…I had a phone call from the DWP … to say that they didn't need to see me for a medical and that I've been put into the Support Group … and will not need re-assessment for 3 years. A letter putting it into black and white arrived 5 days later, at which time I really believed it. I've got a list of thanks due…but high on the list has to be B&W. Thanks, guys, you've been brilliant…I've been very grateful for the advice.”

PIP award success
“I would just like to let you guys know I was awarded Enhanced Daily Living and Standard Mobility for mental health disabilities until 2018 with a review in mid 2017. I would like thank B&W forum for giving me advice and help”

SDA to ESA without a medical
“…would just like to say a big thank you to B and W for their help i would not of been able to cope with the form without their help from the guides i have just changed from SDA to ESA and did not need a medical…”

PIP – no face to face assessment
“I want to say thank you to all at Benefits At Work…. thanks to your advice/writing to MP, complaining to Capita, at last the DWP have decided there is no need for me to have a face-to-face interview, they are making their decision based on the evidence provided…”

PIP appeal success – a BIG thank you
“Well, it took almost 18 months since I applied for my PIP, and recently after attending a tribunal I was finally awarded it! I want to thank Benefits and Work as their guides helped me write a fantastic submission.”

ESA Support Group success
“I would really like to thanks the Benefits and Work team for all the fantastically useful information and advice contained on the site. I have recently heard that I am allocated to the ESA Support Group following a medical. I approached the form filling and the ATOS medical guided by Benefits and Work Information... It gave me an understanding of what to expect and how systems and assessments work. Most of all it gave me the greatest support of all - not feeling alone. My sincerest thanks.”

PIP reconsideration success
“Thank you to Work and benefits for the invaluable information which helped me have my enhanced mobility entitlement reinstated after just 3 weeks !!! I have also been awarded the lower rate for care..”

“brilliant site, guides, advice and support”
A huge thank you to the brilliant site, guides, advice and support. I had to submit a DLA renewal in August, and have just got the decision letter through (11 weeks), and not only have they continued my high rate mobility component, they have increased the care component from middle to high.
I am over the moon with relief (especially as I have a Motability car, with a hoist for my mobility scooter and would have lost that if they turned me down), and so grateful for the fantastic advice you have on the website.

“I am amazed”
I applied for PIP in May of this year following several years of physical illness being compounded by a mental illness diagnosis. I had no idea what to do, but through using the information you provided, I completed a very full form and included all the medical reports I had.
Today I have received a letter from DWP saying I am entitled to the Enhanced Rate of the Daily Living Component and I don't have to attend an interview! I am amazed as I expected to have to go through that gruelling process.
Anyway, they have backdated the claim to May, bringing me a significant cash bonanza at the perfect time of year, and now I can rely on a regular monthly income to help with the items I need to keep me well.
Thanks again.

“So much stress and worry have just evaporated”
Thank you all so much at B&W. In my pre - B&W days I applied for DLA and was turned down. I then appealed and got made to feel like a nuisance for even being there. Totally humiliated. Run on a few years of living well on the breadline and I discovered B&W. Applied for PIP in May this year, got the medical a month ago and heard this week I'd got the 'standard rate of Daily Living component of PIP backdated to May and it's now in my bank account. So much stress and worry have just evaporated. I said much the same during this application as the for the DLA claim - I just said it differently, thanks to your help. I urge anyone in this unfortunate position of being physically and/or mentally incapacitated to join B&W. You're the voice we need.
Once again, thank you.

“having the guides gave me the confidence and ability to tackle the forms correctly”
Just wanted to let you know I have just had a phone call to say I have been placed into the Support Group without having a Medical. My Form and letters from consultants were enough evidence along with the guides I found on this website. I've been told they will look at my claim again in 12 months to see if my condition has improved ( I wish ) or there are other changes. My condition speaks for its self but having the guides gave me the confidence and ability to tackle the forms correctly. Many, many thanks

“I feel as if a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders”
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you so very much, after months of worry about whether I would keep my DLA I have been informed that I will keep it indefinitely. I approached it with all the help you gave me and went armed with my folder to see my doctor. After doctor and hospital reports about my conditions they decided I was indeed entitled to it. It is a dreadful worry for anyone awaiting that decision and this can make your illnesses worse as you go through all the stress. I am so grateful to you for all your help I feel as if a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Thankyou.

“This is by far the best money ever spent”
Have been awarded standard rate care component and standard rate mobility of pip. Within 16 weeks from applying following your guidelines. Attended medical assessment and only one week later received letter of award.
This is by far the best money ever spent without your help I know I would never have received this award.

“Your guides were invaluable”
Your guides were invaluable, and helped me feel like I had a chance of making a successful claim. There was no doubt that I was entitled to it on the medical facts, but knowing how to express those facts in a way that would be clearly understood by the people making the decisions was something I really couldn't have managed on my own. I have had months of worry.
I received a letter today telling me I've been signed to the support group without the need for a face to face medical.
Thank you to you and everyone who contributes to the articles and forums. At I time when I felt like I'd just been left to get on with it by family and friends, the advice and guides were really a life saver.

“Cannot thank you enough really!“
Many many thanks for your wonderful help with applications.
ESA from SDA has been successful - with entry to support group and no wrag - and this was decided without having to have a "face to face" assessment.
That battle in the war over for the time being, we are now getting ready to battle away with DLA to PIP when the time comes - knowing that we have your excellent guides to help us through relieves us from great anxiety.
Cannot thank you enough really! We constantly recommend you to others via Twitter.

“Thank you all so much for your hard efforts”
I have been a member for some time now, and have followed all of your helpful guides as necessary. Without a shadow of a doubt, if it was not for all of your information, my husband and I would have failed miserably.
Thank you all so much for your hard efforts, we could not have managed without your help. The membership fee is well worth it, we are so grateful that there are people who help the disadvantaged to articulate themselves and their conditions.

“it means so much to not only me but my whole family”
My last claim took over two years and two appeal hearings before I was awarded DLA. So I hope you can understand my fear and loathing of putting another application through.
I just found the courage to view your helpful guides and taking it step by step, with your thoughts and encouraging examples of others experiences, I managed to finally begin the form.
I have now received my new award!
I can’t thank you enough, it means so much to not only me but my whole family.
Without you who is there for support? Welfare Rights? They turned me away last application due to the amount of appeal cases they had to handle and CAB couldn’t help as I wasn’t in receipt of an income based benefit at the time.
In short, ‘Thank you; a heartfelt, thank you!’.

If you’re not already a member, join the Benefits and Work community before midnight on Saturday and you can get 20% off the cost of your annual subscription.

Just type the following code into the coupon box when you pay: 7842

Claimants and carers get an annual subscription for £15.96, down from £19.95. Professionals get an annual subscription for £77.60, down from £97.00.
Offer ends midnight Friday

Good luck,

The Office Team
Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
Company registration No. 5962666