Personal Independence Payment (PIP), a UK disability benefit, was refused totally last week to a guy whom I knew at school in the 1960s. He is a private man and doesn’t want a fuss. He is just getting on with seeking a reconsideration before, if needed, launching a full appeal.
It’s just not right, he was receiving Disabled Living Allowance (DLA) and has got no better. In fact, he had a home assessment. No-one contacted his doctor and, he says, the assessor seemed more interested in getting away than doing her job properly. This is a scandalous way to treat people who have disabilities.
Then, yesterday, we heard of another man with a similar case. The Northern Echo told the story of a man with learning difficulties suddenly being told he is fit to work.
‘The government doesn’t care about people like me’, says Edward West, of Darlington, who has been considered unable to work for the entirety of his adult life..at the age of 44, he must now look for full time work within an hour’s commute after the Department of Work and Pensions unexpectedly declared him fit for employment.
The Northern Echo takes up the story:
Mr West lives in sheltered accommodation, has significant learning difficulties and needs the support of a carer several times a week.
The vulnerable man struggles to cope in unfamiliar situations, has mental health issues and says anxiety and distress would make a daily commute, long hours and interactions with colleagues impossible.
However, after attending his first Work Capability Assessment without professional support, he failed to score enough points to be eligible for ESA (Employment and Support Allowance).
Following a face to face assessment, a report was issued saying Mr West would need somebody with him to travel to unfamiliar places but was otherwise fit to work.
The report cited his ability to get to his GP, time spent socialising with his brother and a perceived lack of anxiety at the assessment.
It is believed the DWP did not contact Mr West’s GP or consider medical records before making a decision, expecting him to have contacted them for evidence to support his claim.
Mr West now claims Job Seekers’ Allowance (JSA) and must look for full-time work within a 60 minute commute or risk losing benefits.
An emotional Mr West said new “box-ticking”, point-scoring disability assessments mean people like him are falling through the gaps.
He said: “They didn’t speak to my GP or social worker and didn’t listen to me. The system should be scrapped, they didn’t look at my records or my past, just judged me on what I said that day. I cried when I found out and I’m really frightened, I don’t know what to do.”
Assessments like these are a disgrace ad it’s no wonder that 50 – 60% of people in this position go on to win their appeals.