I have recently undergone my application onto Personal Independent Payment (PIP) after spending just over 8 years on the old Disability Living Allowance (DLA). I cannot complain when it comes to the UK benefit system. The propped me up when I was unable to work and they gave me security which helped me with my recovery.
I was unsuccessful in obtaining PIP this winter and this was a real blow for me. It has created a number of problems in my life but luckily for me I do work and my mental health is buoyant enough to survive such shocks. I also did have some savings which did get me through a difficult few months. Without all of this I could have become very unwell.
But do I deserve PIP I hear you say? Well according to the DWP no!! PIP is based on a points system and you obtain a score from a number of questions based on daily living skills. If you score between 8-11 you get the standard rate and if you score 12 points or more you get the enhanced rate.
I scored 0.
Which would answer the question that – no I should not have been awarded PIP. However, the questions are based on daily living skills and I answered the questions very honestly and said ‘yes I can do such a such task but I cannot if I am unwell’. For example, when I was at my lowest I had to be prompted to shower. I also had to be prompted to eat. But that’s when I was extremely unwell and in hospital.
I believe for the majority of mental health claimants who are not in crisis can complete most of or if not all of the tasks they are being questioned about. For example, going to the toilet.
This therefore makes it very hard for the mental health complainant to honestly make a positive claim. It’s like Einstein said “If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid”. This is effectively what the DWP are saying, the form makes the mental health claimant either feel like a fraud or feel that there is nothing wrong with them.
I don’t think the form caters enough for people suffering with mental ill health and this needs to be addressed. I do have a diagnosis, I do take medication and I am under a mental health team and still I am not eligible to receive the award.
I had to have a face to face interview and the report said that I presented well, I drove to the centre and I found my way. They also asked me about employment history and sickness and I haven’t had a day off work since returning to work (this was a two year period at the time), they also asked about my housing situation and I feel all of those items went against me.
The DWP say you get 4 weeks to complete what you call a Mandatory Reconsideration (this is the first step to appealing). By the time I was in a position to complete such a letter the 4 weeks had passed. This was in February 2018. In August I emailed my MP after having what can only be described as an epiphany in a dream!!! I was put in touch with a benefits expert and he informed me that you get 13 months which meant I was within the tine period. This information is not easy to find on the internet.
Currently I am awaiting to hear back from the DWP. If the Mandatory Reconsideration is unsuccessful then I will appeal this and go down the relevant channels.
If you are having trouble with your benefits I would contact your local MP on the following link; https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
The important thing to do is not give up at the first hurdle as there are people out there who can help. The Citizens Advice Bureau are also a great wealth of knowledge and worth speaking too.
Let’s hope our friends at the DWP show kindness in the review of their decision against me.