Pandemic backlog means PIP claimants may lose help whereas ready in queue – Incapacity Information Service
Disability benefit claimants who have successfully overturned decisions in the tribunal are advised that their assistance may be suspended due to a lack of assessment professionals and a backlog of claims caused by the pandemic.
Personal Independence Benefit (PIP) beneficiaries who previously received fixed-term awards at benefits court hearings will be notified that their payments will be suspended if their new PIP claim is not approved by the end of their award.
This means that applicants who have followed the Department of Labor and Pensions (DWP) instructions will still see their PIP payments cut off as they near the end of their award.
This does not appear to affect those with similar awards who did not have to go to a tribunal to receive the benefits they deserve, as many of these groups have extended their awards from the DWP due to the pandemic, social law advisers say.
This means that, according to a welfare rights expert, the government is effectively “punishing people for asserting their right to a fair hearing in court”.
People with disabilities who receive PIP after a limited court award are told that there is a large backlog of claims due to the lack of reviewers. Many nurses, paramedics and other health professionals have returned to the NHS to help with the coronavirus crisis.
They are also told that if the PIP review providers Atos * and Capita fail to complete their reviews and forward their recommendations to DWP until the end of their fixed term, their payments will be automatically suspended.
A disabled woman who contacted the Disability News Service (DNS) described how she was forced to appeal to the tribunal three years ago following a dishonest evaluation report from an Atos health professional.
Amid a series of inaccuracies, the reviewer wrote that Anna ** was able to make cheese on toast, although during the assessment she had been told that the last time Anna had tried to cook something she wandered off and on fire put cooker.
In April 2018, the tribunal overturned a DWP decision based on the report and raised Anna’s honor.
In late January of this year, as the end of her temporary PIP price was nearing, DWP asked Anna to make a new claim, which she did a week later.
But she grew increasingly anxious as the end date approached.
She and her husband were eventually informed by an Atos advisor that many of his reviewers had returned to the NHS because of the pandemic and that there was now a long backlog in processing claims.
A DWP adviser told her husband that if Atos failed to assess them before the three years were up, their payments would be suspended in April, and that his caregiver’s allowance would also be suspended at that time.
Due to financial problems when she was younger, including homelessness and pregnancy in her late teens, Anna said any form of financial insecurity can create significant psychological distress.
She said, “I find any financial security threat incredibly depressing as it takes me back in time.
“I am shocked and appalled that my husband and my 11 year old child who lives with us are returning to the prospect of homelessness (my 23 year old fortunately has his own place and is happily safe). ”
Anna is the second PIP applicant to tell DNS how Atos informed her of an application backlog because staff returned to the NHS to help with the pandemic.
DNS was unable to resolve the situation with DWP despite a lengthy email exchange, also because Anna doesn’t want the department to know that she’s spoken to a journalist about her case.
However, Finn Keaney, Head of the Welfare Team at Mind in the City, Hackney and Waltham Forest, said, “The DWP’s decision to extend its own rulings insisted on fixed end dates when the award was presented by a tribunal is arbitrary and preparatory many disabled people have great difficulties.
“The government shouldn’t punish people for exercising their right to a fair hearing in court, but that is exactly what current policy does.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is already disproportionately affecting people with disabilities, and the resulting staff shortages and belated evaluations at Atos / IAS mean that many people, through no fault of their own, are faced with months without PIP payments.
“I would urge the department to change their current approach of” one rule for some, one rule for others “and correct this broken policy.”
Ken Butler, Welfare Rights Advisor at Disability Rights UK, said he was looking at a similar case to Anna where DWP refused to extend a PIP price from the February 2021 expiration date, that of one, despite the disruption it caused Appeals court had been set by the pandemic.
They had been told that it would probably take a few months for her to judge their claim.
In December, Disabled People’s Minister Justin Tomlinson appeared to be telling Labours Apsana Begum that DWP was “automatically” applying extensions to PIP awards hit by the pandemic crisis, including those imposed by tribunals, although it was not exactly clear which There are cases he was referring to.
Butler said the Child Poverty Action Group even drafted a template letter threatening DWP with judicial review for those affected by the problem.
He said, “This problem should just not arise.
“Especially since the Minister for Disabled People told MPs three months ago that this was not the case.
“PIP applicants should have their Tribunal Awards extended easily if the DWP cannot process extension applications before it expires.
“You shouldn’t have to be empowered to use a proforma letter that the CPAG developed to threaten the DWP with judicial review before it makes sense.
“Or they have to ask their MP to contact the minister to make sure the DWP is implementing its own policy.”
A DWP spokesperson said, “We always strive to make a pricing decision as quickly as possible and treat them as a priority pre-requisite when an individual’s previous fixed-term award has expired.
“If it is determined that a person is still eligible for PIP, their award will be backdated to the point they claimed so that no one loses financially.”
However, the DWP appears to deny that applicants with Tribunal Awards are treated differently, although the department has not been able to clarify their position as of noon today (Thursday).
An Atos spokesman declined to say if there was a significant backlog of PIP claims to go through the assessment process and if there was a shortage of PIP evaluators caused by staff who joined the NHS during the pandemic returned.
However, in a statement he said: “Together with health services, some changes and disruptions have occurred everywhere as a result of the pandemic.
“As part of our overall strategy, we are working closely with the DWP to increase capacity.”
Capita declined to comment on whether there were also personnel problems.
* Atos supplies its PIP assessment contracts through Independent Assessment Services, a trade name of Atos IT Services UK
** Not her real name
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