DEMAND AN END TO POVERTY THIS GENERAL ELECTION
TAKE ACTION
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. 

Your support changes lives. Find out how you can help us help more people by signing up for a subscription



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.

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