So, lately I have spoken a lot about the disability benefit, Personal Independence Plan (PIP) and it was suggested by my dad that I write a post on what the assessor is looking for. So if you have recently got a letter asking you to attend a PIP assessment, I have some insight in what to expect and how to treat the assessment.
Now, the first thing you need to be aware of is that the government DO NOT care how your disability affects you and how you struggle, they want to take your benefits away from you and will look for any excuse to do so.
It is your task to make it as hard for them as possible.
1. Make sure you have letters and documents to back up your claim.
Send them copies of everything you have.
- Doctor’s letters going back from when you were a baby,
- the assessment you had at the driving centre (if you have had one)
- your school statement (if you had one)
- letters from people who know you personally and professionally
- a recent letter from all medical personnel and support workers.
Do not give them space to breath. Even if you have a clear, physical, visual or other disability, do this anyway because they will try and find anything that can go against you. Currently for me, they are trying to say that they could not find any medical records from when I was a child that showed how my Cerebral Palsy was treated or any medical records on it due to moving doctors. So, really, do not give them any room to wiggle.
I did not send any evidence first time around because I believed that my disability was obvious. I believed that what I said I struggled with and the help I needed would mean that I would get the help I deserve, but that is not the case.
In my appeal, I sent the last two bullet points and was awarded the minimum daily living. I need the maximum Mobility and Daily living.
So I have now applied to the tribunal but DWP are arguing their case by saying they cannot find any evidence of my disability from childhood due to change in my doctor’s surgery.
So send them everything, dating back from as far as possible. Make it hard for them because they certainly will make it hard for you.
2. Record Everything
Now, they say they want you to burn the recording on 2 discs or memory sticks simultaneously while you are there, but don’t worry about that. Take a recording device, a laptop and 2 memory sticks or discs. Put the recording on the laptop and do it one by one if you have to because they will still see you burn it onto two things, just not simultaneously.
This is the best way to make sure that you are awarded points when you need them because the assessors will flat-out lie on your report. There are many lies on mine, these include but are not limited to:
- my anxiety levels,
- my speech impediment and understanding,
- my ability to put my thumb and finger together,
- how I handled my documents,
- how I walked out of the assessment.
Recording the assessment prevents these lies. You have a copy, they have a copy. They cannot then lie on your report. So do this. Don’t worry if this takes another 30-40 minutes because you need that extra time, you need that evidence and if they refuse it because you cannot burn it simultaneously, they cannot delete it from your computer so at least you still have a copy if you need one.
3. Think about what you CANNOT do.
If you are like me, you do not dwell on the can nots but look more at the can dos. Well, that is a big downfall at these assessments. Don’t lie, but do make it clear that you struggle.
The more can dos that you give the assessor, the more points you will not get. I know it is frustrating, but think long on hard about what you struggle with and answer every question with a short response:
- It varies.
- That is hard for me.
Do not begin any answer with yes unless the question they ask you is in the negative:
Assessor: Do you struggle with…
Anything else and you are unlikely to get the point. During my assessment, I would try and elaborate on my answers; often and subconsciously using the word sometimes. That is a big mistake. I was often interrupted in my attempts to elaborate on my answers. The assessor would say that we would:
Get to how this effects you later.
Later never came. So my advice. Try and not say sometimes, give clear negatives. As I say, do not lie but always think about your worst day. Could you do this on a bad day. Describe your worst day to your assessor.
This is what you have to do. Because you would not be able to cope without that benefit on your worst day and the assessor are looking for your best days, do not give that to them!
If they interrupt when you elaborate, stay calm and say you would rather get this bit out of the way first. I wish I had, instead., I tried to remember what I wanted to say while another question was thrown at me, then tried to remember another explanation on top of the original while a third question was thrown at me.
It made my anxiety come out. I struggled to speak, forgot everyday words, and still my report said I was fine. Make sure you answer when you want to and get it on recording.
4. Keep a diary of what you struggle with on a daily basis
Keep a diary and use it. Send it to them before your assessment if you can. Make it detailed. Did you just ask help to spread toast? Then write it down. Did someone help you get off a train? Someone help you with your bag? Read a sign?
Write it all down. Every single second of it.
5. Don’t worry if you are refused
You are probably going to be refused if you can walk a tiny bit. People with MS, Cerebral Palsy and other disabilities where walking is limited but not impossible will know all about this. So if you can walk down the corridor, then you are probably going to be refused but you can appeal.
You must go through the Mandatory Reconsideration first. It is a waste of time, with 19% of people who go through Mandatory Reconsideration receiving a slightly higher award. That means you have a 81% of being refused twice but again, don’t panic because the real magic happens at the tribunal.
71% of people who go through the tribunal win the appeal. That other 29% are usually people with temporary disabilities. The percentage is raising all the time too. If you are refused at the assessment, hold on and go through the tribunal.
Send them the same evidence you sent the DWP.
I haven’t gone through the Tribunal yet but have started the process. So this is what will happen.
You apply to the Tribunal and they will give DWP a month to respond. The DWP will send a document that is over 100 pages to the DWP on their reasoning. DO NOT PANIC
The first quarter of the pages will be the form you filled in when applying to PIP. In fact, most of it would be the evidence that you sent to the DWP.
The only original pages of the DWP will be the assessor report (around 40 pages long), the PIP categories and the points they are worth, evidence from your GP, and a 2-5 page letter of why they assessed you the way they did.
You will probably find some outlandish statements in that 2-5 page letter. My one said that my ability to drive shows that I do not need help. If I needed as much help as I said, then I would not be able to drive according to DVLA’s guidelines. They urged the Tribunal to throw out my appeal.
This is a scare tactic.
They forget to mention my car is adapted for one hand use; that it is automatic. They also say that going to university also shows that I am not as disabled as I say despite the fact that people who are more severely disabled than I do both, drive and go to university. Heck, some even have jobs on the side—something in which I would struggle to do.
So, yes, be prepared for some scare tactics. Its their way of hoping you will pull out. Don’t pull out. The people on the tribunal are independent of the DWP and are genuinely interested in what YOU have to say, not what the DWP have to say.
Try and speak to your local welfare service. See if they can help you.
I’m wishing everyone who has to go through this awful process good luck in this game of checkmate with the DWP.
Thank you for reading. I know some of my followers have gone through this process either directly or indirectly, so if you have anything more to add, do feel free to comment and share.
Anyone who wants to write a guest post, don’t hesitate to contact me. Also, feel free to join my blogging group centred around disability and mental health.