Independent: DWP admits it has wrongly refused disabled people benefits at record rate…

February 24, 2022


The article features the experience of a woman with ME/CFS – see below.

“The enormous number of appeals which are successful or are ‘lapsed' by the DWP (which means they change their decision before it is heard by a tribunal) continues to show that if you receive an unfair decision, it is crucial to fight by appealing that initial rejection.

“Many disabled people are discouraged from appealing due to the physical and emotional toll this process takes but it is worth persevering if you can. Unfortunately, there are huge delays in the system due to chronic underfunding and there could be a long wait for your case to be looked at. While this happens, it is very important that you ensure you are getting all the help and assistance you can. If you are struggling, consider contacting your GP, Citizens Advice, and Local Authority to see what help they can give you while you are waiting.

“There are emergency funding schemes for people in acute financial distress and food banks that you can be referred to. Contacting an advice agency such as Citizens Advice for help with an appeal can make it much less stressful. The ME Association has a comprehensive guide to mandatory reconsiderations and appeals for ESA/Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which you might also find helpful.”

Ella Smith 
Welfare Benefits Advisor 

DWP admits it has wrongly refused disabled people benefits at record rate as cost to taxpayers soars

By May Bulman, Social Affairs Correspondent, 21 February, 2022

Exclusive: Warnings that ‘flaws in the system’ have led to almost 80,000 Personal Independence Payment decisions being overturned at initial review

Extracts

The government is finding a record number of disability benefits claimants have been wrongly rejected by its own assessments as the cost of correcting these errors soars, new figures show. Campaigners have pointed to “flaws in the system” that led to almost 80,000 Personal Independence Payment (PIP) decisions being overturned at initial review last year. Meanwhile, separate figures show the cost of these reviews has surged by 26 per cent in the last two years, despite the fact that the number of reviews carried out by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decreased by 23 per cent over the same period…

The rate at which these appeals have led to a decision being reversed has surged from 22 per cent (46,580 of 236,720) three years ago to 43 per cent (78,390 of 182,880) last year, according to data obtained via freedom of information (FOI) laws. Separately, figures published by DWP minister Chloe Smith in response to a written parliamentary question show that the cost to taxpayers of mandatory considerations for Pip stood at £24.8m last year, compared with £19.7m in 2018/19 and £13.7m in 2016/17.

‘Chronic Fatigue Syndrome'

One PIP claimant, a 55-year-old woman from Devon who suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome, PTSD, depression and a number of other conditions, told The Independent she applied for a mandatory reconsideration after losing her PIP support in November last year, and was yet to get a response from DWP.

The woman, who did not wish to be named, said she had been on disability benefits since 1996 but received an “unexpected letter” from the DWP in 2021 – only several months after she was reassessed as still being eligible for Pip – saying she needed to have another assessment. Due to the pandemic, it took place via telephone.

“This wasn’t good for me as I’m very nervous speaking to people I don’t know on the phone, plus I tire and get confused easily […] By the time the call was over, I was in tears, exhausted, confused about a lot of the questions I was asked.”

In October 2021, the woman received a letter informing her that her Pip was being completely stopped, which she said left her feeling “confused and devastated”.

“Reading through the assessment it was like it was someone else they were referring to. I don’t understand how my conditions can be judged over a telephone and feel like so many of my issues weren’t taken into consideration and many conclusions jumped too.”

“Now I’m worried about how I’m going to get by now I only get £260 a fortnight to survive on. Having my benefits slashed in half means I can’t afford to put my heating on or pay the people I used to have helping me with shopping and other chores I can’t do for myself.”

The 55-year-old registered for a mandatory reconsideration in November 202 – but said she was yet to even receive a notification from the DWP that it had been received.

“From what I understand this has become normal practice from DWP as they try to discourage people from going through to appeal, giving up because it takes so long. The assessments should be properly evaluated and the right decisions given in the first place. An appalling waste of money is spent on getting these assessments wrong, and unfortunately often the people who need the extra safety net the most are the ones losing the support.”

ME Association Information: Welfare Benefits & Social Care

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