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PIP success – THANK YOU!
“Just had to apply for PIP from indefinite DLA low care on appeal in 2012 (was too exhausted to try for more until being forced to transfer to PIP last month) and have been awarded 12 points daily living and 12 points getting around on first decision, and am so relieved and delighted! Thank you so much for the fantastic guides and support. Please don't give up, it is worth the sense of relief when you finally get what you are entitled to.”
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Dear Reader,

In this newsletter we look at the huge increase in the number of complaints about personal independence payment (PIP) medical assessments, reveal that online appeals are about to become a reality, discover that all DWP customer phone lines will be free to call by Christmas and consider the possibility that universal credit (UC) waiting times may be cut.

 

MASSIVE INCREASE IN PIP ASSESSMENT COMPLAINTS
In our last newsletter we highlighted the case of a PIP claimant who had used a secret recording of his PIP assessment to win his appeal tribunal.

A number of readers subsequently got in touch via comments and email to describe your own experience of covertly recording medicals and other meetings.

The information being collected by John Pring’s Disability News Service (DNS) reinforces the idea that this might be a sensible precaution.

Because DNS have published figures showing that the number of complaints about PIP assessments has rocketed in the course of a year, from 142 in 2015-16 to 1,391 in 2016-17.

Not only that, but DNS have heard from 250 claimants who say that their assessment reports were not just inaccurate, they were plain dishonest.

Given this level of doubt about the trustworthiness of assessments, and given the difficulties the DWP place in the way of claimants wanting to openly record their medicals, covert recording seems more and more reasonable.

 

ONLINE APPEALS
For claimants who do end up appealing against a PIP assessment, or any other benefits decision, the experience is likely to change very soon.

HM Court and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) have moved on to what they describe as stage 2 of the roll out of online hearings.

Over the next 18 months virtual hearings and online hearings using ‘rapid messaging’ will become a reality, HMCTS say.

It will also be possible to lodge an appeal online and track the progress of your case by text, email or online.

Many people will welcome the opportunity to avoid the stress of attending a face-to-face hearing, often in a distant and inaccessible venue.

The concern remains, however, that paper hearing have a very much lower success rate than in-person hearings.

If the same low success rate applies to ‘rapid messaging’ hearings then claimants may be well advised to push to have a physical hearing, which HMCTS say will still be available “for those that need them”.

 

ALL DWP PHONE LINES TO BE FREE
In the wake of the scandal over 55p per minute calls to the UC helpline, the DWP have announced that all DWP customer phone lines will be free to use by the end of the year.

Secretary of state for work and pensions David Gauke announced last month that the UC helpline will be the first to stop charging:

“Given the recent attention and concern that this could place a burden on claimants, I have decided that this will change to a freephone number over the next month.

“It has been DWP's longstanding position to operate local line charges for benefit inquiry lines, but having reviewed this matter more widely I will be extending freephone numbers to all DWP phone lines by the end of the year.”

We’ll keep readers posted about the roll out of new numbers.

 

WILL UC WAITING TIMES BE CUT?
The negative publicity about UC forcing claimants into debt has now spilled over even into the traditionally claimant-hostile tabloid press.

And opposition sponsored debates about the issue have seen the Tories forced to abstain in a failed effort to avoid looking like they were beaten. We have even seen David Gauke fail to turn up at one such debate, so weak is the government position.

Local councils have warned of the millions of pounds of rent arrears being run up by UC claimants and even Tory members of the commons work and pensions committee have been unanimous in their condemnation of the current system.

As a result, it is looking increasingly likely that the DWP will have to take steps to reduce the current cruel six week wait for a first payment of UC down to one month. An announcement may come in this month’s budget.

Whether this will make a significant difference to the harm caused by UC, we will have to wait and see.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

Benefits and Work guides covers

 

PIP Success
“I received the brown envelope today and got enhanced care and mobility and a ongoing award.
Thank you for your advice and support, I am truly grateful”

 

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ESA Support Group success
“With my help, and the advice on this site, my daughter has successfully applied for ESA. She was placed straight into the Support Group without needing a face to face assessment..”

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.

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Offer ends midnight Friday, 3 November

 

LATEST NEWS
Massive increase in complaints about PIP assessments
The Disability News Service (DNS) is reporting that the number of complaints about personal independence payment (PIP) assessments rose by nearly 900% in the course of a single year.

Online appeal tribunals to start within 18 months
Virtual hearings and online hearings using ‘rapid messaging’ will become a reality for social security appeals within the next 18 months, according to HM Court and Tribunals Service (HMCTS).

UC has potential to be catastrophic, councils warn
Two councils which were amongst the first in the full service universal credit (UC) roll out say that the effects could be ‘catastrophic’ because of the level of debt caused by the initial six week wait.

Commons Committee urgently calls for UC wait time cut
In an urgent, unanimous report published today, the Commons Work and Pensions Committee says Government should aim to cut the baked-in six week wait for the first payment of Universal Credit to a month.

All DWP phone lines to be made freephone, but UC rollout continues
All DWP customer phone lines will be free to use by the end of the year, secretary of state for work and pensions David Gauke announced yesterday.

 

GOOD NEWS FROM THE FORUM AND BY EMAIL
As always, many thanks to everyone who takes the trouble to post in the forum or email us with news of your success. (Names have been changed where we received feedback by email). We know it’s many readers favourite, and most encouraging, bit of the newsletter.

Covers set tall 2PIP enhanced rates awarded
“I helped my friend who is certified blind fill out forms using your guides , which without would have been a very hard thing to do ,he called today to get an update and was told he got both enhanced rates for 10yrs.”

PIP award after 10 months!
“PIP Result. Finally after 10 months I have an Award: Standard Daily Living and Enhanced Mobility until 2021. Very pleased…I have had the support of my MP and his team, who are looking into the facts that the decision maker did not use my consultant reports only my GP letter and scrip list. Also the factual mistakes made by the Assessor's. A result is a result and I'm very happy. Thank you Benefits and Work for your Stirling help, your PIP guide was a great help and to my comrades in the group, without whose help I would have sunk. If I can help anyone else, I would be pleased to do so.”

PIP awarded
“..I have just been awarded PIP enhanced on both living and mobility (thank you to the invaluable guides on here)..”

PIP success
“I received my PIP results last Thursday and to my amazement I was awarded enhanced for mobility and daily living. It has been a long stressful period of my life since that day in May when the letter arrived asking me to apply for PIP's. It is thanks to your comprehensive guides that I was able to word the questions correctly and give them as much information as possible. I visited my Consultant he was wonderful and gave me a copy of every consultation, procedure plus the pictures of my MRI Scan. The assessment was conducted by a very pleasant lady who seemed very sympathetic to my problems. At the end of the session one is allowed to ask questions I asked why they had not contacted my Doctor, and Physiotherapist for their input. Her answer was that I had given a written a full account of my condition and how it affected me physically and mentally, and this was supported by my Consultant. She concluded by saying that many people just do not put enough information on their form. So if anyone who is reading this and is in the process of writing their PIP Form to write plenty.”

 PIP Success!
“Finally got the letter from DWP. Ive been put on Enhanced Rate for Care and Mobility till 2023. Im delighted. Special thanks to Gordon, your advice coupled with the guides on this site are a god send.”

First ever PIP claim – success
“I would just like to tell you that I claimed for PIP in August, never claimed it or DLA before, I had my medical 4 weeks ago, and it was one of the worst things I have ever gone through, the 'assessor ' was just awful . At one point I thought he was going to drag me off the chair during the physical examination. I never held out much hope and boy was u ready for a fight during appeal. So the brown envelope came this morning and I have been awarded standard rate for both daily living and mobility, to say I'm shocked is an understatement, have been awarded for 2 years…I would just like to say a huge thankyou I don't think I could have gone through it without this site. Thankyou to you all”

Successful PIP mandatory reconsideration
“I'm happy to say that I have been successful in my struggle to be awarded the higher rate PIP Mobility”

ESA Support Group
“Hi all, I am in receipt of ESA (Income Related) and am in the support group. BTW, thanks B&W for the guides, without them I don't think I would have received this level of ESA... Thanks for your help.”

“This site is superb”
“Just to say that I have just received the brown envelope ..... about being considered for PIP over my current DLA awarded benefit.Amazing ..... after a face to face at home by ATOS (I did not request a home visit) but awarded highest award for both Living and Mobility under PIP. This site is superb, thank you so much ... I followed the great advice in your guide. Phew, what a relief Thank You Thank You.”

Kev

“the guides which are fantastic”
“Thank you so very much for the guides which are fantastic and the work you put into them.I hadn't joined B&W when as a new applicant I applied for PiP ...in 2016. the "gentleman " who carried out my face to face was a physiotherapist. I was awarded standard living and no mobility. I requested mandatory reconsideration with no success. I joined B&W and I didn't apply again for 12 months I was so traumatised. Using your guides I applied in March 2017 , my face to face was carried out by a nurse a totally different experience. In August I got the letter. I'd risked losing my award altogether. I got what I deserved in 2016 enhanced living and mobility.”
Fiona

“Thanks again for my peace of mind”
“A few months ago I subscribed to your benefits guides whilst making an ESA claim. I have just had the brown envelope through the post and I have been placed in the support group! I'm so relieved! I was bracing myself for the worst. If it hadn't been for your guidance I I think I would not have been successful. Your guides are so detailed and I prepared like I was sitting for a very important exam. Thanks again for my peace of mind.”
Trevor

“have spread the word about your site”
“Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who helped compile the ESA guidance notes. I was recently asked to reapply for my ESA , this was about a year before my review date so I was expecting all sorts of complications might arise. After reading and using your guidance notes I was able to fill in and complete my form on time and then less than 4 weeks later I got word that I have been successful in my application for ESA plus I was retained in the Support Group . There was no medical, no face2face , the relief was almost measurable! Not sure how common it is to get granted ESA without having a medical but thank to everyone in Benefits and Work, as your hard work helped make filling in those awful forms just about bearable.
Thanks again , have spread the word about your site to anyone who will listen.”

Lisa

“I can't thank you enough”
“I'm 68 but still had to apply for PIP even though I had low living and high mobility "for life" and I was very anxious about the face to face interview. She wasn't too bad on the day, telling me that she was a "nurse!"
She kept her eyes on the screen where she had my application in front of her. I didn't have my copy. No eye contact. She assessed my poor grip by asking me to squeeze her fingers! And cross my legs. And wiggle my feet. That was the weirdest medical examination I have ever had.
I had to work hard to stop my worries taking over my mind. I expected to have to wait months for the brown envelope but it arrived yesterday awarding me enhanced care and enhanced ability! I have to keep re-reading the letter! And it's thanks to your guidance and instruction and I can't thank you enough.
Thank you thank you thank you.”

Carol

“truly priceless”
“We applied for DLA for my son last year & I used your guides once more to help me to complete the forms, having used them successfully for my own PIP application. The local 'welfare rights' unit said that they had never seen such a comprehensively completed application before & that there was absolutely nothing they could add to improve it. The DWP, however, rejected the claim. They then rejected the mandatory reconsideration appeal. Yesterday we attended a tribunal where we had to represent ourselves & were 'armed' with lots of information from your website; the tribunal panel overturned the DWP decision & awarded my son DLA (backdated). Thank you so much for the information in the guides you provide; it is truly priceless &, thanks to your help, we can now get more of the aids which our son needs to help him to manage his chronic health condition.”
Jen

“The relief is enormous”
“After a one and a half hour PIP assessment I waited two and a half weeks for the brown envelope.
And there it was. Standard care, low mobility - for four years. The relief is enormous. This waiting has been hanging over me so oppressively and for too long. And I believe made my condition worse. All my thanks and gratitude to Steve, the moderators, the people in the office at Benefits and Work for all the advice on the forms, the support, without whom I wouldn't have got this award.
Thank you all so much.”

Sylvia


BOOST YOUR PIP AND ESA CHANCES - 20% OFF ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP – OFFER ENDS MIDNIGHT FRIDAY, 3 NOVEMBER
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: 48356

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, 3 November

Good luck,

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