Last year I accompanied my client to Housing Options to make a homeless person’s application. I felt it was necessary to go with him, because he was being subject to gatekeeping by the local authority, and is very vulnerable with severe depression and PTSD. The client had gone to Housing Options four times previously. Although they had reason to believe that he was homeless and eligible, and had a duty to make enquiries, they had failed to do this. The local authority were also avoiding my questions about why they had not issued him with a decision notice to say whether they accepted a duty towards him or not. At Z2K, we see many clients who tell us they have not managed to make a homeless person’s application to their local authority and going to Housing Options made it clear to me how they manage to gatekeep so effectively. Continue reading
‘David’ suffers from liver cirrhosis, type 2 diabetes, depression, pain in his right knee, lower back pain and glaucoma in his right eye. In July 2014 he applied for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and his case is illustrative of the multitude of problems our clients continue to experience with the assessment process.
There was a considerable delay in David being given a date for his Work Capability Assessment but when the day finally came it had to be cancelled because the case notes weren’t sent by the benefit centre. He wasn’t told until he had arrived at the assessment centre after a long and stressful journey. Continue reading
Recently I represented a client at a tribunal, appealing the decision that he was not entitled to Personal Independence Payment (PIP). The DWP gave him 0 points for both daily living and the mobility component on the original decision, and the reconsidered decision. The panel found him eligible for PIP at the enhanced rate for daily living and for the mobility component at the standard rate.
It is a good result, but it is worrying that we have had so many clients who the DWP say are not eligible for PIP, but then at tribunal the DWP’s decision is overturned. In the first quarter of 2015/16, 57 per cent of 7,931 of all PIP appeals were won nationally. Continue reading
Further to my earlier blog post, I am pleased to announce that Theresa won her appeal, and has been found eligible for PIP, a full 16 months after applying for it. She has been awarded the enhanced rate of the daily living component, and the standard rate of the mobility component.
For many successful PIP claimants, it can be such a lengthy process before they are finally awarded PIP. It is draining to have to go through the different stages. Firstly to attend the medical assessment (which is often not close to their home), and then to ask for the decision to be looked at again (‘a mandatory reconsideration’). If the decision has not changed, and they are not put off, they then have to appeal and go to a tribunal, which is a daunting experience. All to be awarded the PIP benefit which at tribunal is decided that they were eligible for all along.
I hope that, as Theresa’s experience shows, it is worth challenging disability benefit decisions that you think are unjust.
Theresa applied for PIP in April 2014 and a mere nine months later in February 2015 she was finally booked for an Atos medical assessment. The assessment centre was on the other side of London from her home, meaning the journey would have taken her over an hour on public transport. Given that she suffers from acute anxiety and struggled to leave her house most days, this was a daunting prospect. I asked if she could be seen at an assessment centre nearer her house, but I was told that there was a very long wait to be allocated appointments. Without wanting to delay the assessment any longer, we arranged for her to travel by taxi.
I arrived at the assessment centre with Theresa fifteen minutes before the appointment and we checked in at the reception. Due to the nature of the Theresa’s medical condition, it was already a challenge for her, and she was incredibly nervous. Twenty five minutes after the appointment was scheduled to start, we were told that it was cancelled because the health professional was sick. We were informed that we would not be able to be seen for an assessment that day, because the computer system was down, and so another health professional would not be able to access the client’s records. However, as we were leaving, I noticed other people being called in for their assessment, so I’m not sure how they managed to conduct their assessments. Continue reading