Opinion

'Stressful and depressing': More of your stories from DWP benefits assessments

More readers sent us their stories of DWP benefits assessments after The Big Issue revealed a system ‘set up to fail’ disabled people.

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) in Norwich demonstrated outside the PIP offices in central Norwich in 2017. Image: Roger Blackwell/Flickr

The Big Issue has continued to shine a light on people’s experiences of navigating the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefits assessment with the Department for Work and Pensions and its contractors.

After publishing a series of exclusive stories in which former assessors told reporter Isabella McRae they believe disabled people are “set up to fail”, dozens of readers wrote in. Here are some of their stories.

Following my brain haemorrhage I applied for a PIP benefit as I couldn’t work any longer. I scored zero on my assessment twice and this was even after showing a hospital written confirmation of my brain haemorrhage with frontal lobe damage that impacts upon my communication. 

I had to take my claim to a tribunal and was awarded a low score but I was entitled to claim a PIP benefit. Now, three years later, I have to make a further review claim to continue receiving PIP. My brain injury will never correct itself to a normal level but PIP doesn’t understand about brain injured people. Also with a brain injury it was almost impossible to claim for a PIP award with so many pages of information to prepare for my benefit.

Gary Prowse

After sending medical reports to the DWP in 2018 from my epilepsy specialist nurse and GP saying why I needed to claim it, those doing the assessments scored me six points and decided to stop my PIP. I sent the same reports to my MP Johnny Mercer and asked for his support. His reply was he needed more evidence before bringing the case up in parliament. I sent the same reports to the HM Court of Appeals where the decision by the department was set aside and scored me 14 points. I have just had to put in a new claim for PIP, and sending new medical reports to the DWP. I hope I don’t have to take my case to the HM Court of Appeals again.

Paul T

I have epilepsy and my application for PIP was initially rejected, which just broke me at the time as I was 18 and living at a YMCA unable to work because of my condition. I was weeping and shaking because of how much psychological stress and confusion it had put on me. I appealed and almost immediately started receiving PIP. 

This has happened to several other people I know, one of whom is very physically disabled – he has scoliosis. One of my other friends has Asperger’s and ADHD, when it came to his ‘re-assessment’, he struggled to fill out the forms and send the papers back in simply due to his conditions. 

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He couldn’t concentrate, it caused him stress so he kept avoiding it and instead of reaching out to help, the DWP stopped his PIP meaning he had no income for months as he still couldn’t bring himself to send his re-assessment in. He was made homeless at the time and was sofa-surfing. He was starving because he had no way of getting food and his conditions would make it difficult to bring himself to work out how to use a food bank.

When calling PIP, you’ll be on hold for anytime between 40 minutes to 1.5 hours, sometimes even 2 hours. You will most likely have to keep calling them as the phone will randomly cut out sometimes as you’re waiting for someone to pick up. 

This has put so many people off of completing the process, not because they don’t need it (which is probably what the DWP thinks), but because of how stressful and depressing it can be to complete the application and assessment processes.

B Broxton

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more.

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