Opinion

'Truly sickening': Your stories of the DWP rejecting PIP disability benefit appeals

'PIP assessments depend entirely on the person you get during the assessment,' wrote one reader.

A miniature figurine businessman looking down on an information booklet for department for work and pensions

Image: Alamy

The Department for Work and Pensions is rejecting a large number of appeals for the disability benefit personal independent payment, known as PIP, as revealed in the recent Big Issue news story ‘DWP accused of ‘denying people their rights’ after rejecting 90% of disability benefit appeals‘.

PIP benefits are for working-age adults with a physical or mental health condition who need additional living costs due to their condition, whether they are working or not.

Once claimants are reapplying for their payments, many are being rejected and being redirected to make an appeal, called a mandatory reconsideration.

However, according to most recent figures covering England and Wales, the DWP is rejecting 89% of appeals relating to initial applications.

One applicant who has been diagnosed with multiple disabilities told The Big Issue she scored zero on her application and withdrew from the process entirely due to stress.

There are others, many of our readers, who are in a similar boat.

Here are just some of the letters sent by readers to voice their experiences with PIP:

I’m 44 and I had a heart attack in December 2017. Then in May 2019, I had a tumour removed from the left side of my jaw. In June, (when I was living in Spain) I started chemotherapy, going every two weeks. It was extremely strong, and at the time I weighed 44kg.

I went through a marriage breakdown in a foreign country, then a heart attack thanks to stress and then I went through cancer with no English speaking staff at the hospital. I stopped the treatment and left Spain in 2020. Since returning to England, I’ve been housed in a bungalow because of my health issues. I’ve also now been diagnosed with COPD and my asthma has started up again.

I wasn’t able to claim PIP as I had not been living in the UK for the previous two years. But fast forward to October 2022, when I had now been here two years I made a claim. Since then, I’ve had one reply and was declined. So now comes the tribunal. I really can’t take much more and I’ve told them this too.

Kevin Baldwin

I was on ESA (employment and support allowance) for seven years. I was told to apply for PIP. I had to travel by train to the assessment which was in Stoke-on-Trent. I live in Wolverhampton [nearly 35 miles away].

The train journey was awful. I have a bad tremor and urological issues. Both caused problems for me, mostly my tremor. People stared at me. The guy who did the assessment was rude and just got me to stand and sit, then told me to go. He wanted me gone. I got home later that day after some awful problems due to my tremor. I was so upset, I did not appeal after my PIP was turned down.

A year later, I applied again several times. This time I went to Walsall [near Wolverhampton]. I was left sitting in the waiting room for half an hour. I think the staff were observing me on the CCTV to see if my tremor etc was real.

When I finally saw the assessor, she asked me lots of questions and said I should never have have been asked to travel to Walsall and should have had a home assessment as my tremor was so bad. She asked what happened at the assessment a year before. I explained and broke into tears. It was pretty hard to bring the memories of that day back.

The assessor was angry and dismayed I had been treated so badly, by what she said was Atos [a firm contracted by the DWP to carry out assessments], not her company.

They kindly let me change in their toilet and showed me how to return to my bus. I was awarded the full mobility and other living allowance. PIP assessments depend entirely on the person you get during the assessment. You can be on death’s door, but if you get the wrong assessor, you won’t get a penny.

Thankfully I still get PIP and it’s now been extended. I should have appealed all those years ago.

Kieron Rimmer



I was told I was being refused PIP after suffering from a stroke which left side weakness that caused me mobility problems. They made their own answers to their questions and kept interrupting me while I was trying to explain my problems of anxiety, fatigue and pain. I am not going to give in to them and now I’m waiting for a tribunal date. I am getting more evidence about the problems I have for confirmation of my health issues. The DWP has no interest in helping people. The first phone call was from a male who laughed at my answer to a question which was well out of order and unprofessional. I will not let anyone treat me like I’m from another planet.

Jane Busuttill

I read about the lady in The Big Issue being refused PIP and I’m in the same boat. I’ve been refused too even though I’ve had numerous tests at the doctors. I have fybromaliga and long Covid, my mobility is restricted, I am tired and in pain all the time but I still scored zero on the PIP test. I find it truly sickening that we are being punished, I’ve worked all my life, except the last 15 months where my health has deteriorated, and I still can’t get help.

Teresa Pasbley

I’ve just informed DWP that my disabilities have gotten much worse, so they sent me new forms and I filled them in and sent them back. It took approximately six weeks to hear back and they refused the higher rate because I had no further medical updates. I have been referred to the pain management team. I suffer from degenerative spinal disease spondylosis, I need two new knees which I won’t have, and arthritis in my hands and feet. Also I have fybromaliga so I am in pain all day and I wake to go to the toilet at least four times a night. When I phoned to say I wanted to appeal it, the man was very rude and made me feel terrible that I was crying which didn’t help my anxiety.

Julie Pye

I have MS and used to receive DLA at the higher rate for mobility after an examination at a GP. I have been turned down twice for PIP and received zero points. I’m trying my third and final time for PIP, after a phone examination. So waiting to hear from that now.

John Cadman

Regarding the issue of claiming PIP I had a very poor experience with the service I received from the assessor.

I had a terrible painful ongoing foot problem which I was receiving treatment for , I was limited to how far I could walk and was in agony when I did . My assessment was around half an hour , no physical examination took place by the assessor, just a face to face discussion more around what I could do rather than what I couldn’t .

My application was refused and I was furious , not as much due to the decision but the fact that that the report stated I was well dressed, I could pinch my finger and thumb together easily, it stated I’d been asked to do a number of tasks. 

I could not believe some of the tasks they said they asked me to do, none of which occurred at all and none of which would have affected my foot anyway. I questioned the report as it seemed they were reporting on someone else’s assessment and that none of the reported tasks took place but the response was ” their assessors are professional and there would be no reason for them to lie”.

I accept that probably no one would lie but surely they could see my concerns. I was made to feel like I was trying to claim PIP falsely. It was upsetting.

I wish now I’d taken it much further and feel I let myself down on this, not for the fact I wasn’t granted the benefit but because of the incorrect report.

Robert Burkitt

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.

Submissions have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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