Figures produced by the DWP show that just one in a hundred benefits tribunals is won because the claimant produced new written evidence.  Almost all tribunal wins for claimants are based simply on what is already in the papers and what the claimant tells the tribunal on the day.

The startling figures were revealed in a written parliamentary response to a question by Labour MP Marsha De Cordova.

MIMS Davies, DWP minister for disabled people, produced figures showing the main reasons for tribunals overturning DWP decisions at PIP tribunals between 2021 and September 2023 were as follows: 

  • New written evidence provided at hearing  1%
  • Cogent Oral Evidence  34%
  • Reached a Different Conclusion on Substantially the Same Facts 58%
  • Other 7%

The figures suggest that new written evidence is extremely rare and very seldom plays a major part in a tribunal’s decision to overturn a PIP decision.

Instead, in over half of all successful tribunals, the panel reaches a different decision simply by looking at the PIP ‘How your disability affects you‘ form, the assessor’s report and any other evidence submitted by the claimant.

In other words, the tribunal looks at what the claimant has written, looks at the assessor’s report and decides that the claimant’s evidence is more reliable.

In just over a third of cases, the tribunal is persuaded by what the claimant tells them at the hearing.  This is likely to be evidence that wasn’t in the ‘How your disability affects you‘ form.

But many people have difficulty completing the form and that is a large part of the reason for the DWP getting Atos or Capita to carry out an assessment, to gather detailed evidence.

So, why is it that the tribunal can ask questions and receive “cogent oral evidence” but the DWP can’t?  After all, appeal hearings are often shorter than PIP assessments and it is probably much more stressful facing an appeal panel of three people than it is talking to an assessor on the phone.

Is it possible that tribunals simply ask useful questions and listen carefully to the answers without prejudice. but most assessors do neither of these things?

Whatever the explanations, these figures should encourage claimants who are anxious about appealing a PIP decision.

Because you don’t need expensive medical evidence to win your appeal.  You just need to show up and answer the questions as accurately as you can.

You can read the full written answer here.

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  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Angelina · 2 months ago
    I received a letter giving me date of my telephone assessment which gave me option of having it recorded and receiving a CD afterwards. I rang up requesting this and was told it can't be done on that assessment. It will have to be rearranged and will send you another appointment. I'm confused! Why do they offer and then tell me it will have to be rearranged. I am now worried ? Has anyone had same and know what happens now? 
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      anon · 2 months ago
      @Angelina They tell you that to detur you. You can record without letting them know and this is also accepted if needing to appeal. currently going through this.
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    Stephanie · 3 months ago
    I sent my PIP review papers back in March of last year.  Exactly one moth ago I received a text from the DWP informing me the case had now been handed over to an assessment company who would contact me "shortly" with a date.  Can anyone advise me just how much longer I should expect to wait for my actual assessment?  I am now just so sick and tired of constantly looking out for the post or looking out for further text messages from them.  Of course the most ironic part of all of this is the disabled claimant has a mere three weeks to get the paperwork back to the DWP or else they will have their benefit money stopped.  When are claimants going to finally say that the shocking way we are treated is enough already!
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      The Dog mother · 3 months ago
      @Stephanie @Stephanie There's no quick or short answer to waiting times across the board for all benefits. And I get that re us having to dance to their tune and have everything back to them by an alloted time slot.. it's all for them and nothing for us.
      We get no leeway for anything.
      No wonder we are all burnt out. 
      Unfortunately it's all a very tense, anxiety inducing wait. 
      I'm waiting too for word if I need another esa 'assessment ',I'm driven to distraction.I'm honestly on a knife edge Night and day.
      Hope you hear something positive very soon. 
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    Andrew · 3 months ago
    I've had to ask for a mandatory review as they never passed on all the information about how it incapacitates me. Whether or not it will come back favourably or not...if it doesn't I will have to find a different approach.
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    Denise · 3 months ago
    I had my PIP review & after over 3hrs doing a phone assessment my claim stayed the same. On my mandatory reconsideration I told them that thier written explanation of why it stayed the same was incorrect & DWP said I need to get a copy of my assessment & take it up with capita. When I got a copy of my assessment I couldn't understand it, how the assessor had put her answers & evidence references were totally confusing. I had a friend who is also a carer & helps me day ro day sat with me during my assessment & she said that it was all wrong. I have degenerative diseases as well as other illesses so i am only going to get worse & i have gotten considerably wose in the last 12mths, yet the assessor put to be reviewed in 3yrs as improvements could be made. I was retired on ill health from work & was told i would never be able to work again. Even my ESA has put me in the support group part of contribution based ESA so i dont ever need to apply again or attend any work related things by the DWP.So now my route is a tribuneral & it actually terrifies me. I don't know where to start or what to do. I do think the PIP procedure & assessment part should be a lot clearer & easier. The whole thing has put me off taking it further. Also my assessment was 12mths after I sent my review forms & it was this they based my award on aswell even though I told them about the deterioration. 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      The Dog mother · 3 months ago
      @Denise @Denise Sadly,being in esa support group holds little sway with pip as I see it. 
      I'm in the same boat.
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    JazzyJuls · 3 months ago
    I know its difficult, but I had to go to two tribunals in 5 years for my ME/CFS condition (in a wheelchair as the stress affected me so much); I won them both as they can see how stress affects us. It was hard work and exhausting but worth it in the end. Try to think of it as similar to visitng the dentist - not pleasant but worth it for your future peace of mind...
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    Andy · 3 months ago
    Logical giving the evidence, Mims Davies, should be looking into improving the system, whereby currently the payed assessors are reaching more wrong conclusions, not to mention subsequent waste of tax payers money due to the claimant, having to go to tribunal in order to obtain the correct decision and award
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    LynnB · 3 months ago
    It's the showing up that's the issue for some of us though. I struggle so much with face to face situations that since 2009 all my assessments have been paper based. However in the near future I am going to be losing my therapy which has been my written evidence up till now. With no current medical evidence and an inability to attend in person, I think my chances of getting the correct benefits in future are much diminished, even on the current rules. Once the WCA changes I'll be in real trouble. I can't spend too much time thinking about it because I can see the crack I'm about to fall through widening all the time.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      The Dog mother · 3 months ago
      @LynnB You and me both.
      You get past one hurdle and another three appear.
      I honestly do not know where it will all end. 
      It seems nobody has any sway to change any of it. Try as they might,the government has hell bent on taking us down by any measures. Its a constant battle to get or stay on the benefits we desperately need as well as fighting those who are clearly against us. I guess if they could withdraw all benefits and give us nothing they would. 
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