Login FormClose

Free ESA, PIP and DLA Updates

With over 140,000 subscribers our fortnightly updates bulletin is the UK's leading source of benefits news. Get the facts about what's changing, how it affects you and how to prepare.   Get your free benefits updates now.

Professional Members

We support both claimants and professionals.  These are just some of the organisations who have subscribed to Benefits and Work:

  • Royal College of Nursing
  • Spinal Injuries Association
  • Chesterfield Law Centre
  • Coventry Mind
  • Birmingham Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Colchester Borough Council Welfare Rights

Read more

PIP refused for spending too much time on Facebook

A shocked welfare rights worker, posting on Rightsnet, has revealed how his client had their personal independence payment (PIP) appeal refused because of the amount of time the claimant allegedly spent on Facebook.

Accused of lying
The claimant had appealed to a first-tier tribunal about the decision on their PIP claim and attended an oral hearing with a representative.

Whilst considering their mental health, the claimant was asked by the panel whether they ever used Facebook. The claimant replied that they did so ‘now and again’.

After all the evidence had been taken, the claimant and their representative returned to the waiting room while the tribunal made their facebook logodeliberations.

However, when they were called back before the panel to hear the decision, the claimant was accused of lying to the tribunal. The medical panel member had the claimant’s Facebook page open on their smartphone and was reading from it, clearly taking the view that the number of posts was too frequent to be regarded as ‘now and again’.

Because the evidence gathering phase of the appeal had ended, the claimant was not allowed to respond, they could only listen to the decision of the tribunal in shocked silence.

Thus they were given no opportunity to challenge the accusation that they were lying or to explain that their partner also used their Facebook page.

Instead, they must now go through the lengthy process of asking for a statement of reasons from the tribunal judge – which can take many weeks or months to be provided - before asking for the decision to be set aside or appealing to the upper tribunal.

Breach of natural justice
There is a very strong probability that the decision will be overturned because it is such a flagrant breach of natural justice: the decision was based on evidence acquired by the panel itself from elsewhere and the claimant was given no opportunity to comment on it.

But, as well as leaving a big question mark over the quality of training for tribunal members, this episode also raises the possibility that claimants’ use of social media may in the future be used as evidence when making decisions on benefits entitlement.

If all the facts are collected and the claimant is given the opportunity to comment on them, this may just be another indignity that claimants are expected to learn to live with. Either that or claimants will need to make sure that their online life is kept as private as possible.

But if decisions are made based on partial evidence and wrong assumptions, as in this case, it will simply lead to more unfairness and injustice for sick and disabled people.

View the topic on Rightsnet

Comments  

#19 MyelopathicMe 2015-12-04 18:32
IHello there. I've just been for my DLA to PIP assessment today and the subject of having a mobile phone to surf the Internet & keeping in touch with friends via Facebook came up in the interview. I queried the relevance and was told it was in relation to my ability to socialise.
#18 Rogue75 2015-11-01 07:00
Surely this is in contravention of the Human Rights Act- the right to privacy and the right of freedom of expression. No wonder the government are trying to scrap it.It fives them far more ammunition to kick the poor, and disabled. I hate what this country is becoming, and the gullible public keep voting Tory and are happy that everyone else's rights are being abused so long as it isn't them.
#17 Banzai 2015-10-29 15:05
From Banzai777 (again)
Part of my earlier comment(s) where I said:

" I mention a 'landline' in particular because no doubt it could be assumed that if you are topping mobile phone regularly by way of a 'Top Up' card, then you can't have much trouble in going to a shop to get a top up card and the Social Engagement implied by doing so.???"


The comment was 'tongue in cheek' and probably what the DWP would presume to be the case and not necessarily what I think would be the case . .
#16 Banzai 2015-10-29 11:31
Regarding use of a telephone - especially a landline - I find that I can often talk for some time 'without difficulty'. The truth is - and it would be lost on the DWP - is that 'I am in control' when executing a phone call or even receiving one. Even where friends are concerned, by using the phone I am not 'putting myself in a position' whereby if I were in a friends house (yes, even friends) if one starts to feel wobbly or the social engagement is not going too well, you can get very agitated and upset. If the engagement is just by way of the phone then you can clip the conversation, make an excuse and put the phone down.
It depends where you friends are, geographically speaking, but sometimes you just don't feel capable of getting dressed and making the trip to a friends.
I mention a 'landline' in particular because no doubt it could be assumed that if you are topping mobile phone regularly by way of a 'Top Up' card, then you can't have much trouble in going to a shop to get a top up card and the Social Engagement implied by doing so.???
The comments above relate especially to people with mental health problems.
It's a very sad state all round, really: they'll be penalising us for breathing before long.
Years ago when Thatcher was around people thought she was a nasty bit of goods, but this vindictive shower are inherently evil and seem to find it as 'entertainment' harassing vulnerable people.
+1 #15 JayC 2015-10-24 02:04
When was Social Media / Facebook ever written into the PIP regs anyway???
DISGUSTING TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE !!!
+1 #14 Eli48 2015-10-23 16:37
Quoting Crazydiamond:
... raises the possibility that claimants’ use of social media may in the future be used as evidence when making decisions on benefits entitlement.

Facebook in particular, and other social media sites already are being used to 'track' claimants, especially where fraud is suspected. Only recently a fraudster was caught, who said he was unable to walk, when photos from Facebook revealed he was riding around on a camel, but even more incriminating was the fact he was caught working out in the local gym, despite his claimed disability. These images amongst other evidence, were used in court to secure a prosecution.

Although this was a fraud case, there is nothing in law or generally preventing the DWP, HMRC or the local authority using social media to substantiate a claim.


Going down this route to, 'substantiate a claim, ' as you put it, is a flagrant abuse of privacy. You should be able to use social media, order shopping, keep in touch with people, family, get advice. After all, the DWP will soon expect everyone to fill in forms online. That is something they are looking at.
+2 #13 E Thomas 2015-10-23 15:10
the crazy thing is that when I am becoming hypomanic I will use social media more not less. It doesn't make me capable of work, in fact I try to shy away from it in that state, as I can also be more argumentative.

This really is Big Brother watching us, and denies the sick and disabled ever more of humanity - for many of us FB is an easy way to keep in touch with others, is that to be taken away from us too?
+3 #12 carruthers 2015-10-23 14:05
Now we can all see why you should have a user name on Benefits and Work and not use your real name - the DWP might trawl this site to see if they can find anything they can use against you.

I hardly ever post anything on any internet site under my real name and give away as few personal details as I can. I have a Facebook account, but only use FB to read what others have posted.

Now I don't think anyone here is going to call me paranoid!
+4 #11 survival71 2015-10-22 05:02
Making assumptions out of thin air and criticizing the 'amount' a person with mental health problems uses a Facebook account is as ludicrous as criticizing a person made too many telephone calls, or for too long a duration, regardless of whether or not the telephone billing account is in that person's name;

Many of us with differing physical and mental health problems find communicating through social media is our main connection to the outside world. But it still doesn't remove the needs of guidance, supervision and/or attention to certain bodily functions.
+4 #10 terrywins 2015-10-21 19:29
This government, the job centres & the corrupt DWP are all complicit in these sick crimes. Cameron & Smith have hired these private firms since the days of the coalition, these private firms who do the completely flawed wca assessments can not be in anyway genuine if they are prepared to lie to the DWP so as this government can bully & harass genuine disabled people back 2 work, if these private drs & so called medical experts were so good at their jobs then we would not have to appeal wrong benefit decisions in the first place, this is illegal when they are over ruling our own drs who have practiced for years to become fully qualified & who have been our drs for years for some people this has been forever & they know if we are genuinely disabled or not & fit for work. this must be illegal for these private hired firms to over rule our own drs decisions on our health. This is in part as they must meet set targets laid down by Smith & Cameron etc which is not only fraud it is also deliberate manslaughter & murder as well as disability hate crime. This has cost 1000s of innocent disabled people their lives because of being wrongly put back to work even when their own Dr said that they were not fit enough to go back into work and who have died because of this government. Then we have the nasty people at the job centres who are deliberately targeting us to lose our benefits by bullying & harassing us to do something wrong in order for us to be sanctioned for a minimum Of 4 weeks up to a max of 156 weeks without benefits and leaving us people and their our families destitute without money for essentials, these staff at the job centres are told to do this because sick targets need to be met, then we have the workfare schemes that is slave labour where people are forced to work for nothing, then on top of this we have the bedroom tax that targets just under 60% of all disabled people, yet another case of disability hate crime that is being put on us.
+3 #9 Crazydiamond 2015-10-21 17:50
.....before asking for the decision to be set aside or appealing to the upper tribunal.

This appeal in my opinion, shouldget nowhere near the Upper Tribunal.

A District Tribunal judge 'should have no hesitation setting the FT Tribunal's decision aside, as it is a flagrant breach of the rules of natural justice. Should', I emphasise, being the operative word here.
+3 #8 madderbat 2015-10-21 16:27
What I don't understand is how people like this panel member 9or employers0) can look at my Fb page when it is locked tight, only open to friends and nothing personal posted on it.
How could they possibly get to it, can anyone explain please.

I read about this sort of thing happening during job interviews ages ago, people having to give employers their password or not get a job and vowed then that I would not admit to having a Fb account.


I suppose I'm lucky having quite a 'common' name.
+4 #7 Siobhan 2015-10-21 15:33
I dislike that it was even a question in the first place. Being mentally ill doesn't stop anyone from using a computer, the internet, or a website like Facebook. It can be a lifeline to some people. It also doesn't mean, that by doing those things, you are automatically suitable for work.

I think everyone should be careful what they share publicly on websites like that (more so than ever with reports like this one). There are many privacy options that can be used so only the people you really want to see your posts or photos will be able to view them. One such privacy setting is to remove yourself from searches. To make sure you don't show up, Facebook has a directory (facebook dot com, /directory) of everyone that has a public page. Make sure the people at tribunals like this one can't even find you and only add the people you know and trust.
+3 #6 Tom_Cobbley 2015-10-21 14:17
If fake or fraudulent claimants can be identified by use of social media, all well and good and I'd encourage that. However, someone suffering from any kind of mental illness is not prevented from using Facebook, Twitter or whatever and it does not mean that just because that facility is shown as 'active' that it is being continually used. It's a very dangerous assumption to make and I cannot see how a benefit can be denied or refused on such a basis in isolation.
+1 #5 David Telford 2015-10-21 13:39
I value my privacy and therefore do not use Facebook. It always amazes me how much information people publish about themselves. Go ahead and use it if you don't mind everyone knowing all of your business. This case provides an example of when it all goes wrong.
+3 #4 Georgie james 2015-10-21 11:40
They have been looking & using FB to discriminate against claimants for a long time..Make sure all ur photos are on private settings & be aware of photos u post such as any holidays, special events as they will use them against u..
+5 #3 susan 2015-10-20 21:04
I keep my Facebook on all the time, I'm not on all the time. My husband goes on mine too to play games etc .
+4 #2 raspberry 2015-10-20 20:20
There must be plenty of people who keep e-mail, fb, games, or numerous other computer actions 'open' or 'running', whilst they perform various necessary household tasks. I tend to scan fb while following TV news & digesting my tea - but, if I have a seizure, my pc might be left running for hours whist I sleep it off ! What is the acceptable period for me to use fb ? Since I dont work (my jobcentre told me that I am unfit) plus the fact that I don't often get out, social sites are an important way of maintaining contact with friends and relatives who don't live near and with keeping generally up to date with current affairs. Is there any time limit on watching TV ? Another machine that I may keep running without giving 100% attention
+5 #1 Crazydiamond 2015-10-20 15:53
... raises the possibility that claimants’ use of social media may in the future be used as evidence when making decisions on benefits entitlement.

Facebook in particular, and other social media sites already are being used to 'track' claimants, especially where fraud is suspected. Only recently a fraudster was caught, who said he was unable to walk, when photos from Facebook revealed he was riding around on a camel, but even more incriminating was the fact he was caught working out in the local gym, despite his claimed disability. These images amongst other evidence, were used in court to secure a prosecution.

Although this was a fraud case, there is nothing in law or generally preventing the DWP, HMRC or the local authority using social media to substantiate a claim.

You need to be logged in to comment