Uttlesford Citizens Advice welcomes PIP review

Our Disability Benefits Advisers have welcomed the announcement of a Government review of 1.6 million Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claims after a High Court ruling in December found that changes in PIP rules had been “blatantly discriminatory” against people with mental health conditions.

Last year our team of home visit volunteers helped 470 people with applications for disability benefits, of which 132 needed specialist help to appeal PIP decisions.  Chris is just one example of one of the clients we have helped.  Although struggling with severe mental health issues, he was asked by DWP to attend an interview at a location over an hour away from his home by public transport, causing him extreme anxiety. As a result of appeal evidence we submitted on his behalf, DWP accepted that he was incapable of attending the meeting and he was awarded him the benefit. Chris was sure that he would not have had the confidence to challenge DWP without our support.

Lyndie Taylor, our Disability Benefits Specialist said:

“This review has been a long time coming!  We are acutely aware of the unfairness and issues involved.  We have been supporting clients with PIP Appeals since 2013 and have helped all of those with mental health conditions to have their decisions turned round.”

“Sadly this review still fails to address the root cause of the problem – the medical assessment. Medical assessors need to have better training and understanding of mental health and the issues faced by our clients. PIP assessment must be made fairer for those with mental health problems and physical ones too.  Many of our clients have lost mobility cars as a result of losing their benefit only to have to reapply for a new one once successful at the appeal stage.”

If you currently claim PIP, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) says:

·           it will directly contact and pay back anyone who was affected by the new rules

·           you won’t need to write to them to get the correct award

·           you won’t have to undergo a face-to-face assessment, though the DWP may contact you or your doctor if they need more information after their initial review

·           If you applied for PIP in the past and were rejected, they’ll also review this decision in light of the new rule. You don’t need to get in touch with them for this to happen

·           It will prioritise claimants who were disallowed PIP over those already in receipt of the award.

If you are unsure what this review might mean for you, need help with a claim for disability benefits or support to appeal a decision, call us on 01799 618848.  For general benefits advice, call 01799 618840.