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I assess disability claims - AMA

407 replies

Galactico · 03/01/2023 20:10

Just as the title says!

I know the public feeling towards assessors isn’t always good. I’ve been doing the job for about 7 years, let me give you some insight into the “other” side.

OP posts:
Galactico · 03/01/2023 20:47

dontlookgottalook · 03/01/2023 20:34

Do people ever claim with a thyroid disorder?

Yep!

The diagnosis itself is one thing. The decision to get the benefit will depend on how the condition affects you. I have had people with cancer going to work full-time, driving, socialising and coping well but people with far less serious conditions (on the face of it), struggling massively.

If a condition is restricting you daily, definitely apply.

OP posts:
Galactico · 03/01/2023 20:52

Luckymummytoone · 03/01/2023 20:36

Do you have so many targets to meet? I looked into doing this once and read reviews of people that work there (also a nurses’ husband I work is in management for a company) stating they were very much on a timeline and often had work send back making them change it! 🙈

Absolutely zero targets. There are loose timescales for how long each assessment should take, but these are flexible because often someone will apply with one condition but when you speak to them, it turns out they have many more.

It’s very much a case of managing your own day, which I really enjoy.


As for things being sent back to you to change, this is true. The reports are audited regularly and we’ll be asked to change something. It is a huge bugbear of everyone who does the job. We might say ABC then we’re told to change it to DEF. We aren’t allowed to say no.

OP posts:
DominoBlue · 03/01/2023 20:53

How do you award for conditions like Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue? Things that aren't obvious and the general public often doesn't believe in or accuses you of putting on. Especially as now Rheumatolgists are refusing to see people with Fibromyalgia/ME/CFS or Hypermobility, so you can't get "letters of support". How do you go about awarding these conditions?

Galactico · 03/01/2023 20:55

SylviasMotherSaid · 03/01/2023 20:33

My cousin has received DLA since childhood for asthma he’s never been hospitalised doesn’t use an inhaler and for some reason has never been transferred over to PIP . He brags about this to anyone who will listen . How come people like him who manipulate the system manage to get away with this but I know loads of people with life limiting conditions who have had to go to the appeal stage .

I’m not sure why he wouldn’t have been moved from DLA to PIP. That’s a strange one. It sounds like he’s somehow slipped through the net.

I agree that it’s really appalling that some people seem to sail through the system while others have a nightmare. It’s very unfair and if your cousin likes to brag about it, it won’t be long before someone reports him for benefit fraud.

OP posts:
kagerou · 03/01/2023 20:56

I have MS, relapsing remitting, the very nature of that is that my symptoms change without warning and without any standard 1-10 on how things are.

My PIP was denied and I have no idea if I should appeal or if it will just be more of the same questions that can't really apply to me

Obviously MS is a disability and obviously it is horrible being at constant risk of waking up suddenly unable to walk for the next few months or with the feeling of being electrocuted all over your body or with any of the other fun bunch of symptoms that may show up and obviously it incurs additional costs as the result of having this disability which I'm pretty sure is the entire point of PIP

I guess my question is how do I answer the assessment questions about an unstable condition and is it even worth trying?

P.S despite you saying you're all medically trained my assessor seemed to have no clue about MS so what is the minimum medical knowledge assessors must have?

iamme21 · 03/01/2023 20:56

DS has a phone assessment next week. He has ADHD, dyspraxia and is awaiting an autism assessment (but probably won’t get this for another couple of years)
He will struggle massively with this assessment, he hates speaking to people he doesn’t know, and even struggles speaking to me in the phone!
I know I can be on the call with him, but the letter says he must answer for himself.
What will happen if he shuts down or has a meltdown, or just can’t speak?
Thanks

disabilityama · 03/01/2023 20:57

What do you do when someone is waiting for a diagnosis?
I have a diagnosis for a lot of things, but not for my chronic illness which is the main thing that scores the points. You mention doctors letters etc, but what happens when it takes years to get any kind of diagnosis or even recognition from the doctors (because tests keep coming back negative)?

Also, do you know why the questions are written in such a leading manner? In my assessment there was a lot of questions phrased "So, you're fine doing xyz?" which automatically makes you want to reply "yeah" before you've thought about it, even if you're not.

One last question, if I may. What do you think about a "hierachy of ability" type approach? e.g. reports (mine) that states university study in their reasons to deny the daily living component. This seems ableist to me, as if only people who can physically perform basic care tasks for themselves could possibly be capable of academic research. I've appealed (especially as the point that I'm a student was incorrect anyway), but would be interested to know if this attitude is widespread.

Galactico · 03/01/2023 21:00

DominoBlue · 03/01/2023 20:53

How do you award for conditions like Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue? Things that aren't obvious and the general public often doesn't believe in or accuses you of putting on. Especially as now Rheumatolgists are refusing to see people with Fibromyalgia/ME/CFS or Hypermobility, so you can't get "letters of support". How do you go about awarding these conditions?

We look at the whole picture for conditions where there’s a spectrum of how they may affect you.

Is the person working? Do they have children whom they look after? Are they a carer? Do they play football three times a week?

We try to build a picture of the person and their life. Ultimately, if someone is holding down a full-time job, looking after a toddler, has hobbies etc, it’s likely they’re functioning adequately.

If they’re unable to work (or have an adapted role), can’t drive anymore, have their Mum taking the kids to school, zero hobbies, prescribed painkillers etc, they’re clearly restricted.

This is why we ask SO many questions.

OP posts:
Darthwazette · 03/01/2023 21:01

Why would you refuse to see someone for a face to face or telephone assessment due to the risk this may cause to their mental health but then declare that person fit to go about their daily life with no need for additional support?

Do you care about the impact that your decisions can have on people who are unwell? That your decisions can make someone in a dark places crumble into suicidal thoughts and self harm?

MichelleScarn · 03/01/2023 21:02

@Darthwazette that's unfair to op who I think has been gracious and helpful.

Galactico · 03/01/2023 21:03

iamme21 · 03/01/2023 20:56

DS has a phone assessment next week. He has ADHD, dyspraxia and is awaiting an autism assessment (but probably won’t get this for another couple of years)
He will struggle massively with this assessment, he hates speaking to people he doesn’t know, and even struggles speaking to me in the phone!
I know I can be on the call with him, but the letter says he must answer for himself.
What will happen if he shuts down or has a meltdown, or just can’t speak?
Thanks

If that happens, the assessment will be abandoned and rescheduled. He/you won’t be penalised in any way. They’ll just make a note saying what happened.
In the time you’re waiting, please speak to the DWP and become his appointee. This’ll give you the power to speak for him.

OP posts:
Findyourneutralspace · 03/01/2023 21:03

How do they decide which cases go for a paper based assessment and which have to have a phone or in person assessment?

DS1 just has his PIP declined on a paper based decision. I’m going to have to appeal for him but it’s a huge barrier to him.

He was awarded DLA as a child but the PIP criteria are a different fit for his particular issues.

MeMyBooksAndMyCats · 03/01/2023 21:06

Do you know what the ten year light touch reviews will be like? Nobody seems to know. Will they effectively be the same review forms?

PennyPearl · 03/01/2023 21:06

Just as you're here I thought I'd ask - my mum was actually awarded enhanced rate on both with very little evidence as it all came to light when my dad died - her renewal is coming up now and we have more so I'm going to send a 20 page document of her autism assessment which diagnoses her with autism, her carer schedule as carers come twice a day to sort her dinner and tea out and they take her shopping once a week and a personal statement from myself as I make her breakfast, put her clothes out, encourage her to bath etc - would this be enough or would you recommend anything else? Thank you

roseretrox · 03/01/2023 21:07

I work on the other side of things eg management of claimants pre/post WCA. Have you ever suggested an outcome but the DM awards a different outcome? Most decisions I’ve seen agree with the HCP.

Darthwazette · 03/01/2023 21:08

I think it’s important that anyone doing a job is aware of the consequences of their input into the lives of others. The reality is that, although I accept the DWP do a very difficult job, their decisions can cause very significant harm to individuals.

The OP mentions someone’s ability to parent, or to be a carer as proof that they’re managing but no where on the assessment form does it ask about these roles so they make assumptions. They aren’t asked if their mother needs to take the children to school or how they are able to undertake a caring roll despite their own disability. It’s a shambles.

Galactico · 03/01/2023 21:08

kagerou · 03/01/2023 20:56

I have MS, relapsing remitting, the very nature of that is that my symptoms change without warning and without any standard 1-10 on how things are.

My PIP was denied and I have no idea if I should appeal or if it will just be more of the same questions that can't really apply to me

Obviously MS is a disability and obviously it is horrible being at constant risk of waking up suddenly unable to walk for the next few months or with the feeling of being electrocuted all over your body or with any of the other fun bunch of symptoms that may show up and obviously it incurs additional costs as the result of having this disability which I'm pretty sure is the entire point of PIP

I guess my question is how do I answer the assessment questions about an unstable condition and is it even worth trying?

P.S despite you saying you're all medically trained my assessor seemed to have no clue about MS so what is the minimum medical knowledge assessors must have?

Tell them about your worst day. Think about the absolute worst one you’ve had in the last 3 months and base your answers on that.

The DWP look at a “majority of days” approach. So if someone is symptom free 5 days a week, they don’t qualify. If, however, you have some symptoms most days and terrible symptoms other days, you do qualify.

Most conditions are variable. Whether it be MS, mental health issues, arthritis, vision issues…there are few conditions that are constant.

Do you know on what basis your application was declined?

OP posts:
PrayingandHoping · 03/01/2023 21:09

I agree with @kagerou with although you may have some medical training it's not enough

My daughter has a disability and we were declined dla first time round. I then went on a couple of seminars run by a charity and rewrote the form in frankly a patronising way repeating my daughters condition constantly, what that leads to and how it effects her. I was then awarded middle rate straight off

The experts running the seminar literally advised us to write as if the form was being read by an 18 yr old with no clue about medical conditions.

There is a severe lack of empathy from dwp frankly generally if you ever get through to them on the phone. And zero communication having just waiting 21 weeks with not so much as a letter for a mobility claim to be awarded....

As someone sitting the other side, I'd say the department is broken.

itsgettingweird · 03/01/2023 21:12

There are many ways I think the system could improve. For example, I’d love to make it mandatory that the claimant’s GP is asked to comment on their diagnosis/medications etc. Having that information at hand would be great in ensuring that the right people get the right benefits.

We have an issue here that my DS GO doesn't like to comment on his condition because he sees specialist neurologists for it and they a) don't know much about it and b) never actually see him!

Hotpinkangel19 · 03/01/2023 21:14

My husband had his leg ripped off in an accident last year. He was declined PIP and after a MR got Low rate mobility. He falls a lot, is in pain, can't walk far, but has a prosthesis. I'm almost sure he should be getting high rate/enhanced. Is there anything he can do?

PrayingandHoping · 03/01/2023 21:15

@itsgettingweird ditto. My gp has never seen my daughter for her condition

I included all the paperwork from consultant etc in first claim and still declined. They actually took a positive phrase she had written about her doing well as the reason for my application being turned down! She was doing well.... compared to some with her condition.... but as I outlined took extra care compared to typical peers but this was ignored.

System sucks

HangerLaneGyratorySystem · 03/01/2023 21:16

I think you are at best a bit naive OP. Obviously you have been gracious to everyone here, and I imagine you have good intentions, but what you are saying doesn't reflect my experience (claiming for my DD19) - we could have a hundred, a thousand people posting on here saying what about x y and z; you can't answer them all, but those that you are answering you're saying oh that shouldn't happen, oh maybe this that and the other happened, maybe get more info and so on. But on a real life day to day basis, people are being turned down spuriously whilst some are working the system REALLY well. Its not ok.

Morph22010 · 03/01/2023 21:17

When a child first moves from dla to pip how much emphasis is placed on the interview with the child. My child is autistic, he attends a specialist school and has has an ehcp and currently receives middle rate care but if you were to ask him he’d say he could cook himself a meal, manage money, travel independently etc. the trust is he can’t do any without significant supervision and prompts but his perception is he can and I don’t want to have to put him down in front of him

iamme21 · 03/01/2023 21:17

Thanks, I’ll call tomorrow. He is already extremely anxious

Confuzzlediddled · 03/01/2023 21:29

Would an autistic teenager who can get one bus journey to and from college which he received travel training for from the local authority be classed as able to travel independently in your view? Bearing in mind he can only make the journey from a specific bus stop on one route number etc and is trained to call mum for assistance if anything changes, as well as having a sunflower lanyard and "please can you show me the way to xx" cards.

Son was awarded PIP but lower rate mobility and although I didn't appeal at the time I'm now feeling when it's time for renewal we should maybe push a bit harder.

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