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Any Information About Private Welfare Specialists Online Who Can Assist Me With A PIP Decision?

crantockgirl3407crantockgirl3407 Posts: 15Member Connected
Hello all you amazing and nice members in this online community. I hope you all are in the best of health & general well-being. I am writing this post to enquire whether you know any private Welfare Specialists who I can pay a fee to assist me with a PIP decision I received a couple of days ago, regarding mobility. I am more than happy to give you the following information in regard to points that were given to me by the Independent Assessment Services HCP via a paper based assessment for daily living activities. 1) Preparing Food - 4 Points. 2) Eating and Drinking -0 Points. 3) Managing Your Treatment - 1 Point. 4) Washing & Bathing - 2 Points. 6) Dressing & Undressing - 2 Points.  7) Communicating - 0 Points. 8) Reading - 0 Points. 9) Mixing With Other People - 4 Points. 10) Making Budgeting Decisions - 2 Points. 11) Planning and Following a Journey - 4 Points. 12) Moving Around - 0 Points.

I suffer from severe agoraphobia,  PTSD, OCD, anxiety, and other chronic mental health conditions that are long standing. My consultant stated in a report which I provided to the DWP that my severe and chronic mental health conditions are unlikely to improve.  I cannot plan and follow a journey at all, because I suffer from very severe anxiety problems and dread facing people and the thought of going out itself fills with absolute overwhelming panic. Also I suffer from blurred vision and do not even have the patience or motivation to look at maps and or time tables to establish a route or plan a journey in the first place. I hardly go out at all. It is my carer who repeatedly persuades me to attend my appointments at my Doctor's surgery, especially when routine health checks and blood tests are due, and he takes me to my GP's surgery by car. My GP's surgery is only a 10 minute walk by the way, but I always go there by car with him to attend routine health checks appointments because of my severe agoraphobia.

I also suffer from severe muscoloskeletal problems, back pain, and generalized arthralgia in multiple joints, and can't walk more than 50 metres without having to stop and rest and also suffer from breathlessness due to the exertion of walking. I have also got migraines for 20 years, and other long standing physical health problems which affect my day to day living. I am totally baffled why the HCP awarded only 4 points in the descriptor activity for planning and following a journey when I clearly cannot do this, and also the fact that moving around also was not awarded any point at all? Although I was awarded 17 points in total, and was therefore entitled to the enhanced rate for daily living, I believe most of these points were given begrudgingly and with a total lack of medical knowledge about the disablement experienced with some of the above descriptors, and therefore I should have had more points given because I constantly struggle with 70 percent of the above activities and my needs hardly ever varies most of the time. These HCPS after all are not medical Doctors.

I am deeply concerned why these DWP assessors are deliberately and wrongly denying benefits to genuinely ill and disabled people who are in genuine need for these benefits in order to be able to fund the expensive costs of disability and also to survive on the meagre amounts we are begrudgingly paid? The contempt, attacks, vilification, and prejudice we face with these callous and totally cruel and insensitive organisations are beyond belief! It is a disgrace that those with severe mental health problems who used to qualify before, with the going around descriptor activity of DLA  given at the lower rate mobility have now lost out completely because of the stupid and unfair points system of this planning and following a journey descriptor of the new personal Independence Payment benefit system. 

I would be very grateful if anyone in this forum can point me to the right direction to challenge the Moving around and Planning & following a journey descriptors, and if there is any possibilty to obtain online help from a welfare specialist for a fee, as I cannot afford to pay a solicitor to assist me with this matter. Unfortunately the CAB in my local area are under resourced and can't help me or anyone facing these problems at the moment. Thanks for reading this long post.

Replies

  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Posts: 2,679Member Pioneering
    edited December 2017
    Hi @crantockgirl3407

    Thanks for getting in touch.

    From reading what you have written above, I would not recommend that you engage the services of some online fee paying service, as they are very unlikely to be able to explain it better than you are. I recommend you do it yourself.

    Given your levels of anxiety, it will be stressful, but it would be even if you got an adviser, so please consider doing it yourself, as your explanations are so well put.

    If you do proceed, here are a couple of pointers:-

    The first thing any benefits adviser worth their salt will consider, is - is it worth pursuing? By this I mean that whilst you certainly have mobility issues, is it worth putting the Daily Living component at potential risk to pursue this. I'm not saying the answer is no, just that it needs to be something you consider.

    The second thing an adviser should consider is evidence. Evidence is often key for appeals - so have a look what evidence you've got, and if you think you could do better, then send some emails off to your doctors for comments on specific points such as your ability to plan and follow routes. And when you get the evidence, really scrutinise it. The Tribunal won't just look at the positive points so you mustn't either - be ready to address anything which might cause you problems.

    Another biggy, is that you really must attend the hearing in person - I realise this will fill you with a seriously terrible feeling of dread, but no better evidence can be produced than you, to explain how you suffer daily. Also if you are in a state of extreme panic this will only back up your arguments.

    Remember that the Tribunal are not on the DWP's side - they are there to try and get all the facts out, and by and large they are aware of the relevant law.

    The Citizens Advice also have a decent section on PIP appeals that is well worth a read:- https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/pip/appeals/apply-to-tribunal/

    Hope this helps - do get in touch if there is anything further any of us could add!

    Kind regards,

    Mary
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • crantockgirl3407crantockgirl3407 Posts: 15Member Connected
    Hello Mary,

    Thank you so much for your outstanding input in this matter. I am very grateful for your honesty, and the solid advice you've given in this amazing online community forum. I must say that you are a life saver! In light of the fact that I have been absolutely furious with the Independent Assessment Services nurse, who assessed my PIP claim and the written assumptions of my medical conditions which were stated in her report for the DWP, I was determined to challenge these inaccuracies and was foolishly thinking that using an online fee paying service might probably be helpful.

    After reading your very honest and logical advice as well as the remarkable points you raised, I decided that the onus is on me to gather further medical evidence to put things right through a Mandatory Reconsideration. I am happy to inform you that I received a letter from the DWP a few days ago, informing me that I am now entitled to the enhanced rate mobility component until August 2020. I also was told in their letter that it is not their place to make any comment about the assessor's skills or medical qualifications, and that if I feel that the assessor's comments about my medical conditions are unjustified, as well as the contents of the assessment report then I should take this matter up with Independent Assessment services.

    Isn't it uncanny how the DWP are so quick to avoid their responsibilities for errors and mistakes that they and their contractors make? I don't know what the next step is in regard to whether I should get legal advice or assistance to  complain about the assessor and the dangerous and unjustified comments she wrote in her report regarding both my physical and mental health conditions? 

    For example in the medical report's section which states " Justification of Review Period Choice" the HCP made assumptions that are beyond her medical training and expertise. Her prognosis in the report was entirely wrong and her assumptions are completely at odds with the prognosis from my GP and other consultants who have treated me for both my physical and mental health conditions. What I could not also fathom was that this particular assessor left 2 messages on my mobile phone in an aggressive tone trying to force me to attend a face to face assessment even though my GP and consultant psychiatrist requested a paper based assessment as well as my MP.

    She backed down in the end and a paper based assessment was carried out. Before that I was harassed relentlessly with lots of letters from Independent Assessment Services requesting that I attend a face to face assessment even though I was physically and mentally unfit to attend any face to face assessment and medical evidence had already been provided about my unfitness to attend.  I would be very grateful for any advice given in this matter. Many thanks for your kind help always.
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Posts: 2,679Member Pioneering

    Hi @crantockgirl3407

    I'm so pleased that you got your award! and that I was able to be of assistance in some way - although I really think it's hats off to you, as there's not many changed on MR!

    Given the reliance the DWP put on these reports, I agree that 'uncanny certainly is the word for the speed at which they wish to distance themselves from them when the possibility of improper behaviour arises.

    If you can bear it, I think it would be good to complain about the assessor, as her approach really does sound like it was shocking, and ATOS and the DWP really do need holding account for these things as often as possible.

    I don't think you need assistance or legal advice with this, I even think you'll probably be able to cut and paste a lot of it from what you've written here and on your MR - it's just a case of making sure the word COMPLAINT is clearly at the top of the letter so it gets to the right department, and just explaining all the many ways in which the assessment fell short of what could be considered acceptable - I think you could even through the Equalities Act in there, stating that ATOS were determined not to make reasonable adjustments in spite of the evidence (although you don't need to go that far if you don't want...).

    Think about what you want from them before you send it e.g. an apology, etc maybe reassurance that this staff member will be re-trained, etc. and ask for it in the complaint.

    I would send it to both the DWP and to ATOS and see what you get back.

    Good luck!

    Kind regards,

    Mary

    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
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