...to give people assistance with claiming PIP?(418 Posts)
No, of course I'm not BU. I'm just posting here for traffic. Name changed, obvs.
Bit of background; I was a PIP Disability Assessor for a while this year, until I decided that I couldn't work within the system with a good conscience, and left. I witnessed DA's who were trying their best, mostly, to help people with their claims. They (and I) were hamstrung both by our immediate employers, and a system (whether by accident or design) that discriminated against claimants with certain conditions. In the spirit of the release of 'I, Daniel Blake', which isn't about PIP but other failures of the benefit system, I've decided to give some general advice to those looking to claim PIP.
Firstly, let's look at initially making the claim. I would say the most vital point is this; PROVIDE EVIDENCE. The way that the claim form/questionnaire is worded implies that the DWP/ATOS/CAPITA or whoever will chase letters from GPS, specialists etc to back up your claim for you. In my experience, this doesn't happen. The onus is on you to provide this information, although it would be very easy to assume the opposite. Some photocopies of a recent prescription, letters detailing diagnoses and appointment dates, and evidence of secondary care involvement (especially people with mental health conditions) provide good evidence; if you haven't provided anything, then the DA has to go mostly on that short assessment with you. You may be horribly unwell or disabled for 5 days a week, if you're having a 'good day' on the assessment however, then your claim is in trouble. Evidence, Evidence, Evidence; I can't stress that enough. Don't let the DWP have the easy option; the decision they make is heavily dependent on the report written by the health professional that assesses you. The decision maker at the DWP has no medical qualifications of any sort.
If you have disabilities that cause you to have problems getting out (especially severe MH conditions), ask for a home assessment. The way the system is, if you have a MH condition involving severe anxiety or depression, or agoraphobia; then you attend a clinic appointment, it can be used as evidence that you aren't as bad as you claim that you are. The reasoning is that you can't be that ill if you can get to a clinic appointment. It's profoundly unfair, and a large part of why I left. Once again; evidence is so important.
Don't assume that the health professional that sees you knows much about your condition. In a working and well-designed system, those with certain conditions would be given appointments with HP's with a specialism in that area. It ain't so. You could get a general or MH nurse, an Occupational Therapist, a Physio or a Paramedic. It's completely random. If you can bring along a health professional of your own, then do. I'd advise anyone against attending by themselves. That's not because I don't trust the DA's; the vast majority are good people. It's just easy to forget things, and people with severe MH problems or learning disabilities/Autism really need an advocate of some sort.
If you're asked to do a set of 12 exercises (it's called the Musculoskeletal exam, or MSK), be sensible! I had people trying to please me by trying to do these despite evident pain; tell the DA why it would be difficult for you to do it. If you cannot do it, just do what you can and explain why. Completing those ridiculous exercises at personal cost, especially pain, will count against you. Don't make stuff up to help your claim (they'll see straight through it, and assume that you're dishonest), but don't put yourself at risk of harm by doing something that you can't. The DA has to take your safety into consideration when assessing what you can and can't do. Once again, evidence is key. If you need aids or adaptations to walk, or need to wear wrist supports etc, then bring/wear them. Help the DA to help you. They normally will.
Talking of assessments, if you report any MH conditions at all, then the DA will be observing you throughout the assessment for a Mental State Examination (MSE). In my opinion, this is even more badly designed that the MSK. A HP, who may or may not have any MH experience at all, will continually assess your mood, behaviour, anxiety etc throughout the assessment. It's completely subjective. If you have a serious MH condition, if you are in pain, if you are distressed or anxious then let it show to the DA. The stiff upper lip is the worst possible approach.
We were told that those 45 minutes were key. If a consultant wrote that you couldn't do something, then you did it in that 45 minute assessment (good day or not) then the weight of evidence would be on the assessment.
My opinion, for what it's worth, is that PIP discriminates against those with learning disabilities or MH conditions. Seriously. It's appalling. If you are turned down, then PLEASE appeal. You'd be surprised how many obtain PIP through appeal; it's often through providing further evidence. Don't give the DWP the chance to deny your rightful claim in the first place; provide that evidence when you first fill in the forms.
I'm a social worker and completely agree with this, good advice!
Wow, Op, fair play to you. I hope you get more satisfaction out of whatever new job you find. And I hope this post will help people too, I'm sure it will.
Thank you so much for this, OP. I work part time with the CAB helping people. I know it sounds awful but sometimes I have to be blunt and say: "You have to act like this is a bad day for you, even if it's not. They will treat it like a good day and as if you have these all the time, but you need to show them otherwise. Do not 'push through' anything - if you genuinely think you can't do something without discomfort or pain, tell them so and tell them why you can't."
Like I said, it's awful that genuinely disabled people are having to act to get what they're entitled to, but the system is so unfairly stacked against them that it's the only course of action.
Bump. Hopefully this will come in useful for someone. In my experience the system is really out to cut out as much as possible for those who need it the most.
Can you go to the papers about this? I am sure that the website benefitsandwork would also benefit hugely from this type of information.
Thank you OP - is there any online info on what the MSK tests involve?
Mumsnet - is there anyway this thread could be made a "sticky" somewhere. This uis such good information.
Pheobe - I have taken screenshots. Can you do that?
Nanny, yes I have done that, but just thinking about other people who might come looking for advice in future?
Can you go to the papers about this?
I've tried. Private Eye barely responded, and the other papers don't have the investigative teams to do a proper feature anymore. There may be something in the pipeline though...
Very useful information and from my experience of working with vulnerable people I would agree with every word.
Thank you... tho you have confirmed my fears. Just had to apply for PIP( was on DLA) for my 19 yr old, who has ASD, OCD , severe anxiety and mild learning difficulties... he is totally dependent on us, but since he was 18, all support..and evidence has tailed off. I have send recent MH info but he is waiting for fresh Social Care assessments, re-referral to higher tier MH support.. waiting waiting. He's a 7 yr old in a 19 yr old body.
If he 'fails' we will appeal all the way to tribunal if necessary but dear GOD I hope we don't have to put him through that.
This is the exact advice i give and very very important.
I support those with physical and MH issues and although the PIP form is shit anyway it is very shit if MH is the reason you are claiming.
Well done OP.
My DH got turned down for PIP 3 times before being awarded it. He has chronic osteo arthritis and psoriatic arthritis and is in pain all day, every day. He's always had a physical job, and this has floored him. He's 47.He had to leave his last job because of it. Because of his illness, he wanted to claim PIP so he could maybe look at working part time.
He was finally awarded it after 18 months of applying.
We filled the forms in as though every day was his worst day-some days he struggles to get out of bed-and that seemed to be the key. We were completely honest, and DH got assessed and awarded it in August. He's been able to drop his hours to 20 a week because of it- it's a huge help.
The MSK tests upper limb movement, spinal health, and lower limb movement/power. Don't tell the DA that you haven't got the power in your legs to stand and cook a meal; then balance on either leg, bend your knees, or stand on tiptoes during the MSK. The assumption will be that you can do that all the time. Don't try to impress anyone by your ballet skills, if you can't do it then don't do it!
OP this is such good advice. I have reported to MNHQ in the hope it can be saved somewhere.
Thank you so much OP. I'm about to start an application, so this is invaluable to me. Thank you x
Hookie I got turned down too, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis so bad that my hands frequently crack and bleed, ulcerative colitis and AS. As well as other stuff. Bastards!
Thank you so much, will help me a lot supporting people claiming.
I worked for the then DSS several yes ago and also left due to having a conscience!
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