Identity theft leaves man 'stranded' as DWP demands paying back
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Recent figures from the Ministry of Justice have revealed that 67 percent of decisions regarding Personal Independence Payment (PIP) have been changed following the DWP’s initial decision. Following this revelation, renewed interest has come about how other disabled people can appeal decisions made on their PIP payments. Scope and other disability organisations are calling for those affected to have more awareness on what their rights are in regards to the appeals process.
James Taylor, the Executive Director of Strategy at the disability charity, outlined what these numbers really mean in regards to how disability benefit decisions are made.
Mr Taylor explained: “These figures show the system is working against disabled people. Yet again, a high proportion of decisions are being overturned.
“Behind these huge numbers are the many difficult stories from disabled people and families who’ve had to face months of unbearable stress, fear, and the anxiety of not being believed, in order to access financial support to enable them to live independently.
“These wrong decisions throw a person’s life into turmoil. Having to fight for financial support puts a huge toll on disabled people’s mental and physical health and can plunge families into poverty.
“We’ve heard from huge numbers of disabled people who felt their assessors did not understand their condition or how it affects their life.
“An assessor with appropriate knowledge will be able to understand the true impact of someone’s condition and how it might fluctuate, as well as giving disabled people confidence they will get a fair assessment and the right decision first time round.”
All benefit claimants have the right to appeal a decision, including PIP claimants, the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal.
This body is impartial which means it is independent of the Government and DWP’s oversight.
In order to get an appeal, claimants must first ask for their case to be reviewed once more as part of “mandatory reconsideration” rules.
Any appeals to the tribunal will need to be made within a month of getting a decision through the mandatory reconsideration.
Appeals can be submitted via the Government’s website with claimants needing to provide key information, such as their National Insurance number and the result of their mandatory reconsideration.
After the appeal is launched, it will be sent to the department which originally made the decision, which in the case of PIP claimants would be the DWP.
At this point, the DWP would explain why they made their decision in the first place.
Following this point, the tribunal hearing process can continue for up to six months with the PIP claimant being kept in the loop about what is happening.
As part of its ‘Disability Benefits Without The Fight’ campaign, Scope is pushing for disabled people to have the right to get a benefits assessor who is familiar with their particular condition.
On its website, the charity states: “We are calling on the Government to give disabled people the right to request an appropriate assessor.
“Although all assessors are medically trained, not all of them are appropriate. If your mental health means you can’t work, should a physiotherapist assess your needs?
“In the current system, there’s no way to make sure you’ll get an assessor who understands mental health. And the wrong assessor can lead to the wrong decision.
“Disabled people should be assessed by someone who understands them and their impairment or condition.”
People who have been impacted by similar decision-making and are looking for advice on how to appeal should contact Scope for guidance.
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