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.
The 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.
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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.