I thought those of you who claim or have attempted to claim PIP might want to know that the government has lost a court appeal about PIP. It doesn't mean you will get it if you didn't or that you will get more if you already get some PIP but it does mean a full review with more weighting to mental health issues.
This is good news for some, but unfortunately not for me . I got shafted by a dishonest assessor . My brother , who was with me at the assessment ,said I needed him with me on trips to London to my sister's house . The assessor dishonestly put in his report that I just needed prompting.
If he had put as my brother had stated and not lied I would have qualified for standard mobility . Being of a nervous disposition I didn't challenge his dishonesty as that might have meant having to travel to see people about it(the irony!) . I've just had to accept that I was dishonestly denied benefit I should have been entitled to with no hope of a wrong being righted.
I notice from this week's Private Eye that the Information Commissioners Office (ICO, in charge of freedom of information requests) has also ruled against the DWP recently. The DWP was trying to prevent information about the quality of assessments, level of complaints etc. from being released publicly. The DWP initially tried to claim that it didn't even hold the information, and after admitting that this was false, subsequently tried to censor the information on grounds of potential "reputational damage" to Atos, Capita and the DWP itself. The ICO have now ruled that the information should be released, though the DWP is considering whether to appeal the decision. The case was brought by John Slater, a disability rights campaigner.
I can't remember the details, but there also is some kind of cross-bench review happening in Parliament into the PIP assessment debacle going on at the moment. Already, both companies have been forced to admit their failings at even meeting the DWP's own targets. At their worst, up to 60% of Capita assessments, and 30% of Atos assessments were judged to be of an "unacceptable" standard, and now around 6% for each (the target is 3%.) The companies also admitted that assessments are not carried out by staff with sufficient knowledge of the disabilities that they are assessing, even in the most complex cases.
This is good news. I know that when I had my assessment for ESA (employment support allowance), I lacked the capacity to answer questions at that time and certainly without support. I accept, as my support worker pointed out, that they are probably unaware (most of them) of the mental capacity act. However, that still doesn't make it right, so thank god for these people who give their time to disability rights. This is certainly what I hope to get involved with as soon as I feel able.
My second pip assessment was at my house and I was certainly more prepared for it this time, but the assessor admitted that she knew little about autism. It's very good news to hear that changes are afoot.
The assessors base pip mainly on purely on pyhsical disability and the extreme scales of those types of problems with no regard to mental health at all. This is a good thing they are being held accountable. Pip is for support needs and plenty of people with mental health conditions use things like pip and ESA to pay for support workers or assisted living housing as no help is free in this country anymore.
I ended up having four assessments in little over a month, and the differences between them show just how inconsistent the process is.
I applied for ESA and PIP at the same time, as advised when I received my diagnosis. I got an assessment for each that were only a few days apart. I hadn't at this point got any assistance, though I'd been on a waiting list with an advocacy centre for months. I got sent home from the ESA one because they hadn't received my documents yet. The PIP assessor also sent me home, but this time, it was because I was showing signs of "cognitive impairment" (his words) and was thus "unfit to be interviewed". So both were re-booked, and I was advised not to attend alone next time.
By the time of the second round, an advocate had been found for me, though we only had two hours together to prepare for the next two assessments - on the Friday and Monday either side of the same weekend. The ESA one seemed to go well, and sure enough, I scored 14 points and was immediately assigned to the "support" group.
The PIP one was nothing but an hour of irrelevant questions and physical exams and the assessor said he was a former paramedic. My advocate tried his best to redirect the assessment towards the actual things I had claimed for on my application forms, but the assessor brushed most of this aside. This time, I scored zero points, and am deemed to have no "cognitive impairments", despite having been sent home for that precise reason only a few weeks previously!
I'm currently waiting for a second appeal hearing. The first was adjourned due to DWP having made such a mess of my casework that the judge couldn't reach a decision. In a strange twist of fate, the judge ruled that my PIP assessment was inadmissible on a technicality, so for the next hearing, they will be using the medical assessment from my ESA application as evidence for the PIP ruling. That will represent my case better, but only by sheer luck, and by the time this is all done, I'll be due my next ESA assessment!
If someone told me that Franz Kafka is still alive and well, working as a top mandarin at the DWP, I would not be remotely surprised!