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My PIP tribunal
My story started in 2002, when I had a accident at work and severed my hand, a 12 hour operation reconnected my hand but was left with no feeling or use in it, 3 1/2 years of physio, 2 further operations and I am left with a hand that's useful for buying a pair of gloves, but nothing else !!
During the first 3 years my GP gave me sick notes every 2 weeks, but then decided a long term sick note was the way forward, that was for 12 months, then the DWP introduced Incapacity benefit, and to qualify for that I had to attend a assessment panel, which comprised of Doctors and a surgeon, after this I received Incapacity benefit, that lasted for 5 years before the DWP moved the goalpost again and introduced DLA, which required another assessment this time with a company called ATOS, my assessor was from Uganda and had very little English, so the outcome was not a surprise, I was refused DLA on the basis of this assessors report, I appealed the decision and went to the first tier tribunal where upon the judge awarded me the DLA benefit for life, to quote his words and paperwork.
That continued to be the case until PIP was rolled out, so in 2017 I had the forms to fill in to start claiming PIP, I must say now that my wife fills in all forms, so we sent them off and waited their response which eventually came back for another assessment, this time with Capita, thankfully this assessor was English and a medical person as she said she was a mental health nurse, the assessment lasted for about 20 minutes where she was reading off her screen the questions to ask me, my wife came along with me and we took what we thought was the relevant paperwork from past assessments, but she dismissed them, and carried on reading from her screen, my wife tried to give some additional information, but was told that was not acceptable as the mental health nurse was talking to me ! after she had read all of her questions from the screen she said she would do some physical checks on me, she told me to squeeze her fingers with my hands, which I could do with one hand, but not the other, she then produced an eye chart board which she held up on her desk about 18 inches away from me, I laughed and read it, she then said that concludes the assessment, and the DWP would send their results to me later.
I had No elusion of what the outcome would be, because the Capita assessment was a farce from start to finish, so after some 4 or 5 weeks the DWP sent their result where they had awarded me 7 points when you need 8 points, I think, to qualify for the benefit, so no surprise there then, my next step was to ask for a mandatory reconsideration notice, MRN, I did this over the phone and spoke to a section manager who said he would process the MRN and we would receive the result in the post, that result came back in 3 days, and was word for word the same as the first result, amazing !!
My next step was to ask for a copy of the assessors report from Capita, I tried to do this over the phone but was told that the request had to be put in writing, OK, that took another 3 weeks to arrive, the mental health nurse stated in her report "that I arrived at the assessment alone" which was not true my wife came with me, "he walked with a even gate" which was not relevant, as I was not claiming mobility benefit, "he has limited use of his one hand" nice understatement, and "he did not offer any further evidence to support his claim" this was also a lie, my wife took a bag full of past medical reports, but the assessor refused to look at them "because they were not relevant" as I have said this assessment lasted 20 minutes and was a complete farce !!
So with not being able to make any progress with the DWP, and they had stopped my DLA because it no longer existed, I applied to the court for a first tier tribunal hearing, once again this had to be done in writing direct to the court not the DWP, they requested any evidence relating to the case and the reasons I have appealed the DWP decision, this was done and awaited the court to fix a date for the hearing, then the court contacts the DWP to inform them that I've appealed their decision, so the paper shuffling began, the court date came through about 3 months after I requested the hearing.
The hearing took place at 2pm in Birmingham courts, we arrived at 1.30 and was told to wait, the clerk of the court came to us and told us what to expect, he said there was a judge, a doctor, and a disability professional on the bench for the hearing, and the DWP had sent a representative who would be sitting next to us, I then gave the clerk a letter I'd prepared for the court highlighting what I disagreed with the DWPs decision, this was my attempt to save the court some time instead wading through the 80 pages or so from the DWP !!
2pm and we were called in to the court, the DWP had sent a rep, she was a office junior who had been given this task at the last minute and knew nothing about my case, the judge asked me some questions, then the doctor, then the disability professional, the judge asked the DWP rep "why has this case had been brought before him" she tried to explain that she had just been given the case, but before she could get very far he stopped her and said "the level of incompetence show by the DWP is unbelievable" "this man has been through the tribunal system before but the DWP have chosen to ignore the findings of the judge and highly qualified medical professionals" " I have NO hesitation in overturning the DWP decision and award his claim another 4 points taking his claim to 11 points making him entitled to the PIP benefit indefinitely, and strongly recommend that he is not put through this process again" " and young lady, I suggest that before you appear before me, or any other court again you have the required information relating to the case the DWP are defending" that took 12 minutes from start to finish, the clerk asked if we would like to wait he would print the judge's verdict for us.
I know that it is a daunting process taking on the DWP, but it can be done if you feel that your case has not been fairly dealt with, they publish that only 5% of case's that go to tribunal are successful, that is not true, its more like 75% of case's are successful, and it's propaganda put out by the by governments minister for work and pensions who ever that may be at the time, to intimidate and put people off from going to the tribunal system !!
Hear are my tips if you're going through this process
1) Make copies of all paperwork sent to the DWP including PIP forms and any letters
2) Record all phone calls to the DWP and ask for the name of who you are talking too
3) Be prepared for your assessment, they are not there for you, they are paid by the DWP and they have targets to meet to justify their position and existence
4) Take someone with you, you can record the assessment but the DWP will want a copy, and you have to get permission do it before hand, take someone with you that can take notes its easier
5) Ask for the MRN as soon as you get the result of the assessment, it will not take them long, just long enough to print a copy off of what they already sent you
6) Ask for a copy of the assessors report on what the DWP based their decision on, you will have to apply in writing for it, but its worth doing because you can see what qualifications your assessor has
7) Apply for a first tier tribunal hearing, this is direct to the court, not the DWP
8) Prepare your case for the court, keep it to the points you disagree with what the DWP, and the assessor have said about your claim, the judges will appreciate this
9) Arrive in plenty of time, and run through your notes of what you intend to say, be confident and as calm as you can be, the court provide water at the desk you sit at
10) Finally thank the court for its time and understanding in hearing your case
With all of that said ; GOOD LUCK