PIP Review success
“To all at benefits and work, Thankyou so much for all that you do. After a sixth month wait for my pip review , I have been awarded both high rate care and high rate mobility on the grounds of the new mental health criteria. Without the forum I would not have realised this was a possibility . More to the point I would not have survived the stress of the process . I am beyond relieved.”
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In this edition we reveal that just 8% of disallowed PIP claims end up being overturned at appeal.

There’s the grim news that the Courts and Tribunals Service think that a 10 hour round trip is reasonable journey time for an appeal hearing.

There’s the much better news that 3 year benefit sanctions are to be axed from the end of 2019.

The DWP is getting itself into hot water after a leaked memo reveals it is sneaking out paid for propaganda about UC, disguised as independent news stories.

And finally, we share the overwhelming response we’ve had to our article on the future of the Benefits and Work forum.

Only 8% of disallowed personal independence payment (PIP) claims were overturned at appeal in 2017/18 according to figures released this month.

However, set against this is the fact that over 70% of claimants who appeal a PIP decision are successful.

If only 8% of disallowances are being successfully challenged but 70% of appeals are successful, it seems beyond doubt that many of the claimants who were refused PIP on initial claim would have got an award if they had battled through to an oral hearing.

Unfortunately, many claimants find the prospect of challenging a decision, especially if they cannot get help, too overwhelming to contemplate. Others simply assume that the system is rigged against them and feel there is no point in fighting.

The truth about your huge chance of success at a PIP appeal is one that needs to be spread much more widely.

Future claimants could face “gruelling journeys” according to the PCS union

Under new Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) plans a “reasonable journey” is one that allows a court or tribunal user to leave home no earlier than 7.30am, attend their hearing, and return home by 7.30pm the same day, including by public transport where necessary.

Given that a social security tribunal generally lasts less than an hour, this could mean a five hour trip each way would be seen as reasonable.

The move will allow HMCTS to close court buildings whilst still arguing that no-one has to travel an unreasonable distance for their hearing.

It will also give them a strong edge when it comes to persuading claimants to opt for a cheaper video hearing, rather than appearing face-to-face before a tribunal.

The PCS has strongly condemned the proposed 12 hour day claiming that:

“Court users and staff face gruelling journeys which we believe are unreasonable for the overwhelming majority of people who attend court.

“We believe efficiency is a euphemism for cuts to a public service which we maintain is already creaking under unrelenting pressure and chronic underfunding and is largely reliant on the goodwill and professionalism of our members.

“We also have grave doubts HMTCS will honour its commitment not to propose court closures unless they have sound evidence that the reforms are actually reducing the use of those buildings.”

PCS has given evidence to the parliamentary justice committee that far from improving access to justice, “so-called modern ways of working” are “are slowing down and threatening the quality of justice and service that is delivered.”

Amber Rudd has announced that 3 year sanctions are to be axed.

From the end of 2019 the maximum length of a sanction will be 6 months.

Rudd told MPs:

“I agree with the Work and Pensions Select Committee that a three-year sanction is unnecessarily long and I feel that the additional incentive provided by a three-year sanction can be outweighed by the unintended impacts to the claimant due to the additional duration. For these reasons, I have now decided to remove three year sanctions and reduce the maximum sanction length to six months by the end of the year.”

The DWP has aroused the anger of activists and some MPs after a leaked memo revealed that the department is funding a UC fake news campaign at the taxpayers’ expense, to be launched at the end of May.

An advertising campaign for UC costing more than £250,000 is to be disguised as a news investigation and published in the free Metro newspaper.

In the memo, Universal Credit Director General Neil Couling tells staff:

“The feature won’t look or feel like DWP or UC – you won’t see our branding, and this is deliberate. We want to grab the readers’ attention and make them wonder who has done this ‘UC Uncovered’ investigation. The stories in the feature over the subsequent nine weeks, will highlight the flexible nature of UC, demonstrate the personal service available for all customers, and promote recent improvements such as the increase in work allowances.”

The work and pensions committee has now asked Amber Rudd a series of questions about the campaign and activists are planning to take direct action against the Metro newspaper to try to prevent as many copies as possible from being read.

The memo also reveals that the DWP have signed a contract with the BBC to allow them to film extensively inside three jobcentres to “intelligently explore UC”.

Filming has already started in Liverpool and the chances of this being an honest and accurate documentary seem slim, given that the DWP “continue to work closely with the BBC to ensure a balanced and insightful piece of television”

We’ve had an extraordinary response to our piece in the last newsletter about the future of the forum.

No fewer than 150 readers have volunteered to be trained to act as moderators.

There were even a few people who have sufficient knowledge to have a try at moderating straight away, so you will see some new names on the forum.

The most common motivation of people who responded was the desire to give something back and to be of service to people in the same position as themselves.

Here’s just a small selection of the comments we received:

“I'm a full time carer for my disabled husband, and it would be rewarding to give something back to the forums that have helped me in the past.”

“The help you give is invaluable, it saves so much anxiety and gives claimants an insight into how to word their answers to best effect. I would love to offer my services and give a little back.”

“I have used your site for three or four years now and found it very informative. In fact I have used your website to help other people (voluntarily) over the years with so far great success. I'd love to help your organisation and help others in the same way that you guys have helped me.”

“I’d love to help! I think the idea of online benefits training is fantastic and I would love the opportunity to take part.”

“I was successful in my claim I feel mainly due to following the advice in your guides & support from Gordon in the forum. I really would like to give something back if you think I could help.”

As a result, we’re definitely going ahead with creating training courses for moderators to support other claimants.

We’re particularly aiming to create a support system around the new online appeals, as they are introduced.

So, many thanks again to everyone who has volunteered, we will be getting back to you, though it will take a few months before any training is available.

And we’re still happy to hear from other potential volunteers – especially if you think might be able to begin straight away.

In the meantime, enormous thanks to the new moderators who have bravely stepped into the breach and, as always, to Gordon who has been single-handedly supporting hundreds of claimants and making a difference to so many lives for years.

Good Luck,

Steve Donnison

PIP and ESA success
“Have recently had both esa and dla to pip forms to complete. Happy to report I have been put in esa support group and have enhance living and mobility in pip. Both without a face to face. Many thanks for your helpful guides and support.”

Give yourself the best possible chance of getting the right ESA, PIP or DLA 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: 66743

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

Overwhelming response on our forum’s future
We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who responded to our article on the future of the Benefits and Work forum.

Row grows over DWP’s fake UC news campaign
Heavy criticism and threats of direct action have followed the revelation that the DWP is funding a UC fake news campaign.

3 year benefits sanctions to be axed
Amber Rudd, work and pensions secretary, has announced this month that 3 year sanctions are to end.

Just 8% of disallowed PIP claims overturned at appeal
Just 8% of disallowed PIP claims were overturned at appeal in 2017/18.

DWP pays compensation for misadvised UC claims and would “welcome” more
The DWP have paid compensation to five claimants who have complained that they were wrongly advised by the department to claim universal credit (UC) and lost out as a result.

“Gruelling journeys” warning for appeal tribunals
Future claimants could face “gruelling journeys” to attend appeal hearings.

As always, many thanks to everyone who takes the trouble to post in the forum or email us with news of your success. We know it’s many readers favourite, and most encouraging, bit of the newsletter.

PIP award
“Hi just had the dreaded brown envelope drop through my letter box. When i did get the courage to open it, I was surprised that on my first attempt they have awarded me standard rate care and enhanced rate mobility for 2 years. Thanks for your help via this website”

Thank you
“dear mods and forum members. Over the years I've had excellent advice and support from you all. for me it started in 2007 with transfer from sickness to ICB. after all the years of stress and assessments I am now getting my state pension, so no longer at mercy of the job centre plus.
More recently , I used your guide to get oh PIP at higher rate. . I saw that there was some doubt about the advice forums being able to continue. I just want to reiterate how thankfull I have been for your existence,Unless you are ,having to claim benefits , people don't realsie how punitve the system is ,.when your are already struggling. with ill-health. The advice from you has been exceptional. and knowing we were not alone in our feelings about battling the system, has been worth so much too..”

ESA success
“hello Gordon and colleagues, my husband has been placed in the support group, I would like to thank you all for the tremendous help and advice received…thanking you all once again”

ESA Success
“Thanks to the excellent guides and advise from B&W I received word from the DWP today that I'd been put in to the Support Group second time running under paper scrutiny with no stated 'award length', unlike the previous award of two years. Many, many thanks and profound gratitude to Steve, Holly and Gordon!!!”

PIP Mobility success
“to say i am thrilled is an understatement, i have just had a "white" envelope delivered from the courts of appeal, after lots of phone calls to both the benefits ppl and the courts which most of them contained lies from the staff at the benefits office, I have won my appeal and been awarded the enhanced rate payment for both components of PIP which at last means im no longer sat in the house unable to get out as i can now get a new car, keep trying everyone you can do it !”

PIP Renewal result with no medical
“My Partner has just had the results from his Pip renewal WITHOUT having to go through another medical. As per the benefits and work guides, I treated the review form just as you would a new claim form, detailing all the difficulties that affects him and his ability to carry out that activity. Even if there were no changes from the original claim, I still explained for each descriptor hows it effects him now. (Thank you B&W for the advice). He kept the same award as last time Standard Rate Care and Enhanced Rate mobility but with a longer award this time 4 years instead of 2..”

ESA Tribunal success!
“My wife's Tribunal hearing was held today. She was removed from Support Group after a surreal assessment and ESA benefits stopped.. Hearing lasted about 15 minutes and she was told there and then she was back in the Support Group with backdated ESA to June 2017.. This the second time we have won at Tribunal. We could not have done any of it without the skills, experience and knowledge of this site's team and their production of superb guides. Many, many thanks are due to them, .She has a Face to Face for her PIP application next week and I have again faithfully followed the guidance provided here. Fingers crossed but once more thank you”

PIP Mandatory Reconsideration and success!
“Hi Everyone.. I wanted to share my good news with everyone. I have been on DLA for 11 years and had high rates for both and had an indefinite award, last July 2018 I was invited to apply for PIP and promptly filled in my forms in great detail [and] added all my various consultants diagnosis is etc and …I went for my face to face assessment this Feb 2019. I promptly asked for my assessment report and was horrified to read the report and was convinced was the report actually done on myself or someone else, I was awarded only standards rates on both components and only for 3 years... I was absolutely broken at the thought of giving up my freedom been my mobility car as I live very remotely. I phoned the PIP help line and took advice of doing a Mandatory Reconsideration and promptly registered my option to do just that. I then got out all my medical evidence laid it all out and put in various date orders and sections depending on which illness they related too.. I then got to the nitty gritty of my assessors report on myself and slowly picked apart the discrepancies of the assessors report on myself … there was a lot !. I picked what I thought was the most provable first and backed up with my consultants notes that verified that the assessor was factually incorrect etc.. well it took my around 17 hours and a 10 page M R letter as well as the original consultants note that were claimed to have been read by the assessor also added some new medical information and sent back to the PIP people in plenty of time of my 28 day period, also sent special delivery. I waited just over 6 weeks … then on Thursday morning I had a call from a Decision maker responsible for doing my M R I was asked a couple of questions about my claim and told I had nothing to worry about regarding my M R, but I could not be told the new decision until the computers updated overnight, so next morning after a very sleepless night I called the PIP people at 8 am sharp and well I was absolutely made up… length of award was increased from 3 years to on going 0r 10 years... my mobility was increased from standard to enhanced and my care was increased from standard to enhanced.. I am still awaiting my official letter confirming this .... I called motobility and they checked and my car lease was put back in place after they checked with the dwp and so just wanted to say a big thanks to the people of this site and every ones support throughout my epic ordeal in getting PIP.. Thanks everyone ..”

“thank you so very much”
Just wanted to thank you so very much for your excellent informative site and the great help it has been to me.
I have finally received the brown envelope after 6 months of going through the claim. It entailed my second face to face assessment in 4 years so I am thrilled to finally receive Enhanced PIP for both until 2029. To say I am relieved is an under-statement!
I cannot thank you enough for all your great help.
My most grateful thanks for this wonderful site.

“Thank you for all your help”
I recently had the dreaded letter to end my long standing DLA and assess me for PIP. Like most people I was shaking just opening the letter. For months it has completely engulfed my life.
I immediately. as in the past I looked to your site for help and advice. I filled in my forms using as much of your advice as I could. I then heard that unexpectedly Capita would be doing a home visit. I didn't know if this was good or bad. The lady who came was lovely but we still didn't like to trust her. Eight days later someone else turned up to check my identity and paperwork. I'm unsure why.
We were fully prepared for an appeal when, four months after the start of the process I received my letter. I was award PIP for 5 years at a higher rate than before. We cannot believe it and the relief is immense.
I am sure this is only because of your help.
Thank you for all your help. It is much needed and appreciated.

“your advice and guide made all the difference”
I just want to say thank you.I had my DLA to PIP transfer letter in August, with the help of your wonderful and very helpful guide I filled out the form.
Then I had to endure the face to face medical, it was as awful as I had thought it would be. Thankfully a friend had come with me. I came home exhausted, both physically and mentally.
After a restless night, due to the utter stress and exhaustion of the long 1 1/2 hour interview, I awoke feeling dreadful. To my horror, the post that morning was a letter from ESA asking me to fill out their reassessment forms. I was devastated. I’d expected, that perhaps, once I’d had the PIP results, my ESA would then be reassessed, but I had not expected to get a reassessment letter the very day after I had had my PIP face to face. I was so distressed that I had to ring my friend for emotional support.
Anyway, I filled the ESA form in and sent it off, again using your guides.
Then about a week after going to the PIP face to face, I had a phone call from the lady who had interviewed me, saying she needed more information! How much more information can they possible have wanted! Anyway I answered another load of gruelling questions, over the phone. I again was left feeling really exhausted and scared. What had I said or not said, was it going to help or not?
I am very pleased to say I have now, such a very long wait, Been awarded enhanced PIP for both care and mobility, and a few day later, without having to go to a face to face, I had a letter saying that, once again, I had been placed in the support group of ESA. What a relief!
Thank you benefits and work, your advice and guide made all the difference.
I have a mixture of complex issue, including Autism(aka Aspergers), ME, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and PoTS.

Give yourself the best possible chance of getting the right ESA, PIP or DLA 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: 66743

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


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