UA-79233833-1

50shadesofsun

News and Opinions about MS, Health & Disability

Assessment denies disability benefit to woman with rare disease because she has a degree

NOTE: This post is relevant to all people with disabilities who may wish to claim PIP or ESA benefits. Read on whether your disability is a result of one of many diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s or another illness, or has another cause.

 

PIP assessments, and the people that carry them out, are flawed. We know that, even official papers released by the government show it.

Astoundingly, it now seems that assessors believe that more highly educated you are, the less you need to be paid disability benefit. What an absolutely crazy idea – as if education or a degree can have any effect on how we are affected by our disabilities.

Those of us with disabilities, whether caused by one of a number of illnesses or injury, won’t be surprised. We are used to absurdities of obtaining the appropriate benefits.

Having said that, before you doubt that assessors could be so stupid, one person’s case has already been talked about in the House of Commons. There, UK prime minister Theresa May expressed concern and promised it would be investigated.

degree

Liz McKinnes MP

The case was brought up during prime minister’s questions last week by Liz McInnes, Labour MP for Heywood and Middleton. She spoke of her constituent, Natasha, who has fanconi anemia – a genetic bone marrow condition which carries a very high risk of cancer.

Degree: doesn’t need as much support

Ms McInnes said: “Natasha was on lifetime disability allowance (DLA), which was removed following a PIP assessment.

“When Natasha appealed, she was told that because she had a degree, she doesn’t need as much support.

“Now, I’m sure the PM is aware that disease and cancer are no respecters of qualifications and I’d like to ask the PM what urgent measures she will take to improve the quality and standard of PIP assessments.”

Theresa May, prime minister.

Mrs May admitted the case was concerning and surprising.

She said: “Obviously, the DWP is constantly looking at the standard of PIP assessments that are being made I’m sorry to hear the case that the Honorable Lady has set out.

“I’m sure most people would be concerned at hear that case. I’m very surprised at the judgement that was given in relation to that individual. Can I suggest that she sends in the detail of that case and we’ll make sure that that’s looked into.”

Well, I am sure Natasha’s case will be subject to an investigation, of sorts, but I don’t think it will lead to any major changes that could benefit the rest of us. No, that would be too much to hope from this government.

* * * * *

Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

* * * * *

50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

* * * * *

Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor and cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.

 

1 Comment »

Disability benefit: Government finally succumbs to judges’ decision

A government benefits agency, faced with a legal defeat seven months ago, has at last backtracked. It has finally decided to abide by the judges’ ruling. It is now to change how it makes decisions about a key disability benefit.

disability benefitThe UK`s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)has backed down over the way it looks at claimants of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP). These include people with MS and other diseases, as well as those with other disabilities.

Even last week, the DWP was refusing to bow to the inevitable. It was sticking to its argument that PIP disability benefit claimants could only score points for being unsafe if harm was likely to occur on more than 50% of the occasions on which they attempted an activity.

That was despite the fact that, back in March, a panel of upper tribunal judges made a ruling. They said that DWP decision makers should look at whether there is a real possibility that harm might occur and also at how great the harm might be. The greater the potential harm, the less likely it needs to be that it would happen on any specific occasion, the judges said.

So, why has the DWP taken seven months to follow the legal decision and update its guidance? It’s ridiculous.

Rule change could affect 10,000 disability benefit claimants

The DWP says that an extra 10,000 claimants will benefit by £70 – £90 a month because of the change.

Penny Mordaunt, then minister for disabled people spoke in the House Commons earlier this month. She said: “In the case of existing claimants the Department for Work and Pensions will undertake an exercise to go through all existing cases and identify anyone who may be entitled to more. We will then write to those people affected and all payments will be backdated to the date of the change in case law.”

The DWP claims it is searching for thousands of claimants who have lost out because of the delay.

However, can you believe that the DWP will identify everyone who should receive a higher award, or any award at all if they so far get nothing. I certainly don’t believe it. Furthermore, I don’t trust the DWP to so what it says.

Therefore, if you think you were affected, I recommend that you get advice, You need to see if your disability benefit case can be looked at again. This is particularly important because the DWP may be focusing on claimants with epilepsy.

* * * * *

Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

* * * * *

50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

2 Comments »

Disability benefit: It seems even honesty doesn’t pay

Photo: The Independent

Photo: The Independent

A paraplegic woman who got a job for eight hours a week, which is allowed under UK welfare benefit rules, has had her Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) stopped, despite having got permission of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) – according to The Independent newspaper.

It seems to be another example of bureaucratic inefficiency from the ministry. It makes me wonder if they set out to recruit staff with no requirement for common sense. And it proves that, while dishonesty is obviously wrong, honesty doesn’t pay either when dealing with government departments.

The report, by Sadi Levy Gale, explained that the woman had been penalised by the DWP after resigning from a part-time job that she had sought herself but was unable to continue due to ill health. She had her benefits stopped after she gave up working eight hours a week for a consultancy agency.

It continued:

The DWP allows disabled people to receive sickness benefits if they are employed fewer than 16 hours a week and earn less than £115.50 for it.

Speaking to the Guardian under the pseudonym Sarah Jones, she said she received written permission from the DWP to start work.

But by March, Ms Jones told the DWP she had to resign because the job was taking a toll on her health.

A month later, the DWP fraud department accused her of working without permission.

Ms Jones was asked to fill in a “permitted work” form – a PW1 – and send the DWP her bank statements and pay slips if she wanted to keep her Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

But when Ms Jones sent the paperwork she received a letter from the department stating her benefits would be stopped because she had not “complied” by sending in all requested information. Ms Jones had lost her January payslip so had not been able to provide it.

After finding the payslip and making it available, the DWP then told Ms Jones her benefits had been discontinued because she had earned too much to qualify for ESA in January.

Ms Jones told the Guardian her boss had paid her Christmas pay in January rather than December, explaining the inflated payment.

“A quick call to my employer or myself would have clarified this,” she said. “But no: they just stopped my benefit.”

Ms Jones said she has been without ESA for four weeks while the DWP decide whether she can claim benefits.

“I’m powerless. I did everything by the book. I was totally honest and upfront… but because I’m disabled and poor, no one wants to listen,” she said in the interview.

When contacted, a DWP spokesperson said: “People claiming ESA are able to undertake some paid work without it impacting on their benefit entitlement. If further details of this case can be provided we will investigate.”

Now, I feel confident in predicting that the woman’s benefits will be reinstated by the ministry in the light of ‘further details’ or ‘new evidence’ that it receives. Will it ever admit it made a mistake? I would not suggest that you hold your breath waiting for that – or for an apology.

 

 

MSNT-strapline-copy

 

 

 

 

No Comments »