I saw a piece of news on my friend’s facebook wall about a change in P.I.P which will be good news to many people who have a lifetime condition that is severe or is likely to get worse over time such as Multiple Sclerosis—particularly if you are somehow successful in this awful, awful process.
This news comes directly from the Gov.uk website and it states that sometime in the summer, people who have a condition that cannot improve and are severe enough (I imagine people who have been awarded both higher amounts in care and mobility) then they may be reviewed every ten years rather than the previous maximum—three.
TEN. Imagine that! Feels like a lifetime since… well, since we’ve had lifetime awards. Just add another 40, 50 years and it is almost there…
This is good news for anyone with a disability, whether you have the bog-standard three or whether you are awarded ten. It is even good news for someone like me who has been reviewed PIP for the present and I will tell you why.
It means that the government are taking steps back towards the old system, even if they are not exactly calling it that. Just very very slowly. Sarah Newton says:
We’ve listened to feedback from organisations and the public, and this common-sense change will ensure that the right protections are in place while minimising any unnecessary stress or bureaucracy. – (Newton, Gov.uk, 2018)
Maybe it’s true and they have started to listen but I doubt it. We are governed by Teresa May after all…
I see the government as a toddler with a bad case of the terrible twos.
Yes, May… very good. Strong and Stable! Aren’t you clever?👏
I mean, May sure knows how to have a temper tantrum, don’t you think?
So, of course, the Government won’t admit they are in the wrong—I mean they’re still pretending Brexit was a good idea and that 52% is a fair minority… sighs. But I suppose it could be worse.
So why the step back if they’re not listening?
Personally, I believe they have come to a realisation and it’s as simple as this: we, as the disabled community (I am including other health and developmental conditions in this group too) may not get the same level of support from the public as other communities but that does not make us a weak target.
It means we are having an effect. With all the appeals, not to mention the external support we do get, from family, friends and lawyers, they are finding themselves over a barrel.
Already, it is estimated that the government have spent £1 billion of the money that was supposed to be “saved” in appeals and reassessments.
That now means the government and DWP now need to save £3 billion rather than the original £2 now.
Additionally, it is estimated that 220,000 appeals are to be awarded some form of benefit higher than originally given—or awarded the benefit they originally had invoked. Then they have to reassess conditions that do not change or change for the worse.
Most of these reassessments take place under two years—originally an attempt to prevent people qualifying for the Motability Scheme, where you need a minimum of three years to join. These 2-year reassessments are more money spent on something they know and always have known is pointless.
I am going to be another person added to their appeal list due to receiving nothing for my CP and Anxiety. However, I know—KNOW—I am going to win. So my Mandatory Reconsideration and appeal is going to appear in that chart above there.
This is why I doubt the government are “listening” to us. What is happening is that they are running out of money. Instead of saving £2 Billion by 2020, they are losing money. But if they admit that, they’d have to give PIP to people who were not successful and didn’t have the energy or support to appeal.
They are not listening but WE as a community are forcing them to take steps back and we can keep doing it.
Despite the fact that I am currently not receiving PIP, I am still glad for the ten years, I must admit. Before the decision for my claim was made, the idea of going through the process every three years if I was lucky meant caused me great anxiety. That is every three years of losing my mobility vehicle and with it my independence. Forced to rely on family to get me from A to B. I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t want to do that.
I am lucky because no matter what happens, I have a family who will prevent that from happening, while they are around, I will never be housebound. But if I don’t win the appeal, my life will be greatly affected all the same.
Call to Action: A Force to Arms
While I don’t think the cuts should have happened, I do think this is a step BACK in the right direction. It is one change in many but there are people in our community who are struggling. Those with hidden disabilities and conditions such as autism, mental health, epilepsy.
These people are struggling to get accepted onto P.I.P because their disability is not visibly obvious. The assessment is a tickbox exercise, most of which are physical. It’s hard enough not being able to do something with a physical disability and trying to explain why but it is almost impossible to explain why with a hidden disability.
There are so many people who once were on DLA (Disability Living Allowance – the former disability benefit) who are no longer awarded a benefit because of this. I have both family members and friends who are affected by this and this is the next thing the government need to change.
Mental Health can be more crippling than a physical disability. Believe me.
My Cerebral Palsy literally means half-paralysed but if anxiety takes over I can be paralysed to the spot for a good five or ten minutes.
An epileptic can have a seizure without warning and injure themselves while cooking, exercising or any other time. They cannot control where they fall. They can not move out of the way. The seizure can last 10-15 minutes. But they can go months without a seizure.
Autism is a lifetime condition with the person on a daily basis. Like me, a person with autism will have good days and bad but it will always be there and often someone with autism will also have anxiety.
There will be many people who do not have a physical disability who will feel similar, unable to complete daily tasks such as cooking, showering, eating etc. when it does happen. But because of how the assessments are carried out many people are not able to get the help they need.
HOW MANY TIMES A DAY DOES THAT HAPPEN?
Who cares how many times it happens?
It happens and it is probably not going to go away. I’m not saying everyone needs to to be awarded the higher amount or the ten years. Certainly not. But what I am saying is that these assessments need to be changed to suit the disability as a whole, not put every disability under the same tickbox.
It is not how many times that it happens that is important, it’s how does it affect you if it does happen. Because some disabilities and conditions are intermittent. The person can go half a year without any issues and then have the other half constantly in agony, or have a seizure every other day.
We need to do something about it!
So I am grateful for the possibility of having an assessment every ten years and I am hoping to get the assessment every ten years once my appeal takes place. But I think there need to be more changes in the PIP system.
People with hidden disabilities need to be thought of here. The government needs to understand and accept that they cannot measure how the condition affects them in the same way that they do with someone whose disability is more physical and visual.
If this change in assessment frequency proves anything, it shows that we as a community are getting somewhere and I have hope that we can change the way the government treat hidden disabilities. I am considering starting a campaign, need to do some research but I am counting on your support when I start it.
Together we can make a difference. I know it.
I think the problem is the tick-box system.
The next few months
So my tasks for the next few months is to keep you updated on my appeal and to…
Create a campaign
- to enable people who have hidden disabilities to be assessed in a way that is fair to their condition and how it affects their life
- change how the tick-box system works
Thanks for reading. Are there any disability topics you would like me to pick up in the future? Please put your suggestions in comments.