The Countess of Mar, chairperson of the Forward ME Group of M.E. charities, tabled the following written question:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what form of evidence of incapacity is acceptable for Personal Independence Payments claims when a person suffering from severe myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome, for which there is currently no treatment, has had no contact with any medical professionals or auxiliary practitioners for a considerable length of time.
On June 16, Baroness Altmann, Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions, replied:
The Department encourages claimants to provide as much relevant evidence as necessary to support their claim. The “How your disability affects you” form and accompanying guidance sets out the range of information that can help the Department reach a decision. The guidance for Health Professionals also sets out sources of further evidence which could help inform their advice to the Department, this includes family members, carers or anyone else who supports them.
Before claimants are invited for a face-to-face consultation, all of the evidence held is reviewed and if, at that stage, a decision can be made on the paper evidence alone, then claimants will not be required to attend a face-to-face consultation. Alternatively, further evidence that might help inform the Department’s decision on the claim can be requested by the Health Professional.
If the Health Professional cannot provide advice to the Department at this stage, or where there is insufficient or no other suitable sources of evidence on which to make an assessment, claimants will be invited to attend a face-to-face consultation. This gives claimants the opportunity to put across their own views of the impact of their health condition on their everyday lives, ensuring that decisions reflect the best evidence. In some cases we carry out consultations in the claimant’s home.