DEMAND AN END TO POVERTY THIS GENERAL ELECTION
TAKE ACTION
Opinion

'I had to sell all my possessions just to feed myself': More of your stories on DWP PIP rejections

The response to our article on the DWP rejecting 90% of disability benefit appeals has been overwhelming. Your stories keep coming in – here's a selection of them

A person in a wheelchair

Image: Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Hi, my name is Matthew, I am 57 years old. In 2012 I suffered a major heart attack followed by approximately 12 more smaller ones as I lay in critical care for three days awaiting a bed at Papworth. I have also been a bipolar sufferer most of my life and spent some time in a secure psychiatric unit in 2015 due to a psychotic episode.

I have been denied PIP three times. In fact, my money was reduced by over £100 a month in 2016 after I was moved to a “working” group. To this day I am unable to physically do very much due to the damage my heart incurred. This past year I have had to sell almost all of my possessions just to feed myself and keep warm through winter.

I am a man of deep Christian faith and do not consider myself a materialist but because of government rules I am constantly hounded for debts that I was able to manage back before 2016 and the cruel reduction of my benefits. Now I fear I may lose my small flat. In modern Britain it is beyond disgraceful to have to live like this.

Respectfully yours, Matthew Butcher

I applied for PIP a little before the pandemic. I had been unlucky enough to be bitten by a tick and contracted lyme disease, which then led to ME / CFS and I had to leave my job due to the crippling fatigue. When the assessment came, I met a very supportive team of people. The receptionist brought over paperwork with a clipboard, since I was so obviously unwell

I signed in, I entered my details for having my travel costs refunded, then I was seen pretty quickly. The meeting was cut short at 15 minutes because I was told I was clearly struggling, I signed to say when I left, I was told my parking would be refunded later and I went home.

Weeks later, my rejection letter came. It described a one-hour meeting where I had appeared physically fit and well, so I appealed. I said it was a fabrication, asked them to review their records, their CCTV footage for that matter, and offered them my phone’s GPS data from Google. That reconsideration was rejected for “failing to provide further evidence” and I let it drop, something I regret immensely.

I feel like I should have taken it to appeal, I should have written to my MP, something, but at the time I was just feeling too tired and defeated.

Anthony Hart-Jones

I’ve personally applied for PIP and been refused even after tribunal several times over the years. Not only do I have three disabled children, I also have arthritis and other physical conditions that cause pain along with very poor mental health, and suffer panic attacks too. 

The system doesn’t work for those who need help most, and now I’m at a point where even being on income support I’m left out of pocket even more, and although I can drive I don’t have transport so any getting to appointments is harder than it needs be. Instead, I’m left relying on a friend who also cares for other elderly people in our community for free! Without her I’d not be able to get anywhere including for social and community visits to groups.

Life’s hard enough without them making it more difficult to just survive… let alone live!

Kirsty Chandler

I fully understand how so many claimants have committed suicide rather than deal with these people

Nicola Small

Regarding my first application for PIP. In 2019 I was informed that my disability living allowance was ending and that I had to claim for PIP. From my first call to them I became aware that all further calls would need to be recorded due to how I was spoken to by them. They sent out the application form. Citizens Advice helped me to fill the form in. They advised that it was a mere formality that I would be changed over to PIP due to my severe disabilities. I’d had a stroke in 2013, have rheumatoid arthritis, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, COPD, asthma, Baker’s cyst and TMJ Dysfunction in right side of my face. 

I live with daily severe chronic pain and have multiple nerve and joint issues. I also suffer life threatening allergies to numerous medications. PIP wanted me to attend a health assessment in Watford when I live in Haringey.

I was being prescribed slow-release morphine tablets which along with oral morphine made me very ill and with the stress from PIP I could not drive to Watford. The IAS eventually agreed to send a health assessment person to my home on 20 February 2020. A paramedic arrived at 9am. It had taken my daughter over half an hour to get me downstairs as I was in so much pain. 

In front of two witnesses and with the whole assessment being recorded, the paramedic was here for 48 minutes, left and entered a false report against me. PIP refused my application and gave me two weeks to send my motability vehicle back. They also halved my money. I asked for a mandatory reconsideration notice and contacted my MP Mr David Lammy who got involved. I sent all the recordings to and from PIP, the IAS and DWP to Mr Lammy including the recording of the home assessment when I can be heard clearly very distressed and in severe pain. 

The phone recordings with PIP and the IAS consisted of “agents” making fun of my disabilities and being extremely rude and offensive. In the mandatory reconsideration notice I made it clear to PIP that the process had left me feeling suicidal and that if my case went to a tribunal I would be attending with the press, along with my recordings and evidence. 

They granted my PIP application enhanced rate for mobility and enhanced rate for personal care for only one year. Since then I have had to experience the same nonsense with a PIP review. That took months, having been threatened by them that my money will be stopped even before the due date. They harassed and threatened me causing me extreme stress and again I felt completely suicidal. My consultants wrote further medical evidence to support me. 

Finally after waiting months, PIP extended my allowance as a light touch and I am praying that I will not have to deal with these unpleasant departments for a very long time. I can fully understand how so many claimants have committed suicide rather than deal with these people. I can also understand how claimants have felt forced to give up their application due to how they were treated. As a retired civil servant who worked with multi-government agencies including the Home Office and Met Police I have never experienced such disgraceful departments with so much to hide in all my life!

Nicola Small

I was turned down for PIP and again on appeal. I felt I was being judged by assessors who did not know my whole circumstances and seemed determined to write a report full of lies. After stating the mistakes on the report I appealed and was turned down again. I decided to go to tribunal and was finally awarded the full amount of PIP.

The whole experience took 18 months, which made my finances very tight. The stress of all this was not good for my health and exacerbated certain conditions. Even so, I am glad I stuck with it and had a successful result.

Blanche Kaye

If they thought I needed it two years ago and nothing changed, why stop it?

Gary Brindle

I was awarded PIP for six months two years ago then it stopped. I have a stoma and crohns disease which is never going to end. I reapplied for PIP but was refused without reason, went to appeal but that was rejected as well. If they thought I needed it two years ago and nothing changed, why stop it?

Gary Brindle

I have a spinal injury which causes chronic pain, sciatica and severe spasms which often leave me unable to stand by myself. I sometimes have to crawl to the loo. I also have long-term mental health problems, which were stable until I became disabled. Since then, they’ve got much worse. NHS mental health services have also gotten less available.

I’ve had to go to tribunal at least five times. I’ve only won at mandatory reconsideration once. Assessments have been almost always traumatising and very poorly done. We’re not supposed to say that they lie, but honestly, if they’re not lying, they’re so incompetent that they shouldn’t be practising! My last PIP application (won at tribunal) left me suicidal for weeks and in bed for months.

Jules Lewis

Saw the story about disability and the DWP. Applied for PIP this year and once again scored zero points. I have autism. I have only been successful once in the last couple of years to gain PIP, was advised to reapply and consequently lost my award. I have been without financial support from the DWP for nearly four years (never really had substantial support from them in my lifetime).

Christopher Burns

I have learning disabilities, hidden disabilities and complex PTSD. PIP “lost” the evidence I sent, which they said came down to a technical glitch on their system. I was then assessed over the phone, being cut off when explaining my life. I got the letter back and it contained nothing I said; it was all made up – a life I wish I lived. When I rang to tell the DWP that it was a lie I was just told that they couldn’t do anything so had to appeal it. It’s over a year since being declined and the appeal has also been denied because of a “system glitch”. A lot of system glitches seem to happen in the DWP and around disabled people’s assessments and appeals.

Luke Dolby

Thank you to everyone who wrote in and shared your story. Do you have opinions to add to the conversation? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Why I'm silenced by the fear of being called a bigot
Robin Ince

Why I'm silenced by the fear of being called a bigot

Scotland's promise to care experienced children shows how politics can give us hope
a young child is hugged from behind by a parental figure
Susan Loughlin

Scotland's promise to care experienced children shows how politics can give us hope

The urgent need for social investment to end poverty in the UK
Big Issue Invest

The urgent need for social investment to end poverty in the UK

Poor pay makes care workers feel like second class citizens – the next government must fix this
social care crisis sees care workers experiencing low pay
Katherine Chapman

Poor pay makes care workers feel like second class citizens – the next government must fix this

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know