One-third of people with MS are turned down when they first apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), a key disability benefit, the government has admitted.
The MS Society discovered the facts by questioning the UK government’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The department told the society that, in the four years since PIP started, 31% (4,100) of new claims from people with MS were found to be not eligible. And, worryingly, a further 6% (1,100), who initially qualified for PIP, were later turned down following reassessment.
It comes as no surprise, however, that appeals against being turned down for PIP have a high rate of success. Indeed, independent appeal tribunals decide that 65% of appellants should be awarded the benefit.
These government figures clearly show the PIP assessment process is fundamentally flawed.
MS Society chief executive Michelle Mitchell said: “It’s insulting that so many people who are diagnosed with a long-term condition are being told they don’t qualify for support.
Turned down: PIP hurting people
“These latest figures show PIP isn’t just hurting those who’ve been moved across from the old system (DLA), but also new people who are trying to get support for the first time.
“PIP is meant to help manage the extra costs of living with a disability and assist people to be more independent. But it’s a tougher system than DLA, with much stricter rules. In too many cases, assessments fail to reflect the barriers people with MS face.”
It’s high time that the government reviewed PIP. It is imperative that assessments reflect the reality of living with MS as well as other disabling illnesses and conditions. Disabled people being turned down is not right.
The MS Society wants to see these changes:
- Assessments for people with MS being done by assessors who have professional experience of neurological and fluctuating conditions and adequate training.
- An evaluation of how PIP rules take into account hidden symptoms like pain, fatigue and cognitive problems.
- Improvements in processes around providing medical evidence.
This would be a start but any review needs to go much further. It needs to address every concern, every shortcoming. What’s the chance of that? With the present government, I’d say somewhere between slim and none.
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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.