PIPs: What next for benefit claimants?

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PA


Every person receiving Personal Independence Payments (PIP) is to have their claim reviewed.

This follows a decision by the Department for Work and Pensions not to challenge a court ruling saying changes to PIP – which limited the support received by people with mental health conditions – were unfair.

Three people tell us their feelings about the review and what impact a change to their claims could have on their lives.

Vicky Smith lives in Newcastle upon Tyne. She has ulcerative colitis and wears a stoma. Dealing with excruciating pain on a daily basis, means that she’s sometimes bedridden.

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Vicky Smith

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Vicky is cautiously optimistic about the review

Vicky originally received the old Disability Living Allowance at a higher rate. This also included a Motability vehicle.

Everything changed when PIP was introduced and she was sent for an assessment.

“The assessor ruled that because most of my ‘issues’ were caused by mental health problems I didn’t meet the criteria for the higher rate of PIP,” she says.

“I had to hand back my vehicle which I relied on greatly and accept a drop in support from payments”.

An appeal left Vicky feeling distraught and embarrassed.

“I felt like my mental health was irrelevant. I was made to feel like I was being a burden to the system.

“I had even supplied letters from my GP, health psychologist and consultants which stated I depended on my vehicle and I was not fit to return to work.

“It didn’t help that the process was carried out by non-medical staff. How can someone with no medical training decide I simply don’t meet the relevant criteria and therefore will not be awarded the amount of points needed to be awarded the higher-rate mobility?”

However, Vicky is cautiously optimistic about the proposed review: “I hope this will help those who have been wrongly assessed like myself.

“Maybe, just maybe, we’ll get back what we are rightly entitled to!”

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Dean Mahon

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Dean Mahon says a review is ‘humiliating’

Dean Mahon lives in Rhos-on-Sea, North Wales. He has received the higher rate of PIP since 2016 after being medically discharged from the army.

He suffered a broken back and was also diagnosed with with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Even with those injuries, it was difficult to make a claim.

“PIP is notoriously difficult to get in the first place and re-assessments are always at the forefront of your mind,” he says.

Dean was originally told that his case would be reviewed in 2020. Although it’s still a couple of years away, it’s already making him anxious.

“It’s humiliating and you get the feeling the government don’t know what they’re doing.”

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Sue Doughty lives in Twyford, Berkshire. She has multiple sclerosis.

Like Vicky, Sue originally received Disability Living Allowance, but when that changed to PIP, Sue’s benefit was cancelled.

She faced homelessness and had to rely on help from her daughter.

Following a year spent in appeal, the Court of Tribunal awarded Sue PIP ongoing for life.

“After a year of assessment and processing involving a nightmare of financial risk, I finally got a mean and begrudging written assurance from the DWP,” she says.

“I don’t ever want to go through that again.”

News that everyone on PIP will have their claim reviewed has brought fresh worry to Sue.

“What about all those disabled people who had their PIP assessments today or are awaiting a tribunal date? What happens to them?”

By Bernadette McCague, UGC and Social News team



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