COMMONS

Web forum: PIP and ESA Assessments

As part of our inquiry on PIP and ESA Assessments, the Work and Pensions Committee heard about your experience of claiming PIP or ESA.

Get involved

The web forum closed on Friday 10 November 2017.

If you have had an assessment, or are waiting for an assessment, for PIP or ESA, we'd like to hear from you.

You might want to tell us about:

  • Did you feel that the right decision on your entitlement to ESA/PIP was reached as a result of your initial assessment? 
  • If not—what do you feel were the reasons for this?
  • If you have experience of Mandatory Reconsideration, did you find this stage effective and useful? How might it be improved?
  • Overall, how "claimant-friendly" did you find the assessment process?
  • What steps would you recommend taking to improve it?

We have received an overwhelming response on this forum and we are really grateful to all of you who have posted. We moderate this forum so posts that breach discussion rules do not appear: please bear with us while we approve and post the comments you've sent us. Please be assured we are reading them all, and what you have told us will contribute to our inquiry.

Please read the forum terms and conditions and discussion rules before posting your comment.

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2828 Responses to PIP and ESA Assessments

Janet says:
November 11, 2017 at 08:58 PM
Subject: PIP Assessment
I have already written on this site but I think that the current system is unfit for purpose,I have 20 conditions and since I nearly died from a stroke in 1999 received severe disablement allowance,then this year I filled in an esa 50 which the dwp say they tried to phone me,what is wrong with writing? They say that it was not received then when I get the bundle of papers for the ESA appeal they mention the said 20 conditions.then they say get out of my wheelchair and park it at a place of employment.the Mandatory reconsideration is a joke it comes bouncing back refused,I have had counselling and depressive medication and got so ill with high blood pressure after attending my law centre as they are helping me get more points haha on my PIP that I ended up in hospital the other day I shook from head to toe and I am still ill.I swear it is all the stress of the ESA and PIP I think the whole thing is a terrible waste of money having to appeal and waste public money,another point is I was told my last payment of SDA would be July 2017 and it was June so that was wrong too.the assessment people were nice,I went to Birmingham last March and a lady came for the PIP to my house but the DWP and the government are so wrong and I should not have to go to court they should,
Janet says:
November 11, 2017 at 07:40 PM
Subject: PIP Assessment
I used to receive Mobility on PIP of £21.80,I have been refused it twice this year,I am now asking for an M.R.but I know it will go to appeal,The report states I have limited leg function.a lady came and spent 2 hours going through all my medical history,I cannot fault that,but this government are he'll bent on giving nothing,I used to get SDA and PIP totalling £400 a month because I am unfit for work now I get nothing.just get out of my wheelchair and get a job they say.
M.S. says:
November 11, 2017 at 07:39 PM
Subject: PIP and ESA Assessment
Following my previous post I'd like to add my personal story about the devastating effects of being on ESA/PIP.
The questions asked in the introduction are very practical; they ask about how to improve the system, but not about how it impacts our lives. Nor.. 'why'.

I am a single mother, I have two children, no family; my children's father abandoned us, when my son was 1 year old.
I have been always very proactive about my condition, which I have had since I was a child. I have researched about it, educated myself as much as I possibly could.
It's a condition that affects my physical and mental state, a daily challenge; with flare ups depending on the level of stress.

As there is no cure for it, I have successfully used alternative medicine and counselling for almost 30 years, to manage the symptoms and the flare ups during times of crisis. It demands I have a routine and lots of rest or, I'll be unable to do anything at all.

In spite of it all, I have raised my children alone. They are well rounded teenagers, do well at school, popular with mates and teachers. They have empathy, compassion, ambitions; clearly defined talents, that will take them far, if they are allowed to.
Every single penny of the money that was given to me as a single mother has been spent in food, bills, books and education.
I used some of that money to pay for a 4 year course in alternative medicine, to further my education. Knowing that my condition would require lots of flexibility, this line of work would have allowed it.
But, by the time I'd planned to return to work I became ill again and had to apply to ESA.

That is when my nightmare began.
The harsh changes made to the benefits' system meant I was made to jump loop after loop. '0 points' = no money for months, useless MR and then appeals. Shock, debt, stress, fear, shame, humiliation. Depression, exhaustion, burn out.
All the above repeated year after year, regularly for 8 years… non stop.
From being able to manage my mental and physical health, to keep it at least at 55/60% of that of an average person, I now am not even able to look after myself.

The depression and panic attacks, that I lived with all my life, have become so intense and deep, that I have been considering suicide &/or hurting myself, for months now. Only knowing that my children are still too young to lose their mother and wouldn't have anybody else to rely on, has stopped me doing something seriously damaging.
I feel broken, I don't know who I am any more. I have lost any ambition or hope to get better and to continue the path I'd started with my studies.
The relentless, harsh and rigid way the benefits' system has been reformed into doesn't allow me the time, to recuperate enough to even start thinking about work; let alone perform any.

I do not believe the system can be successfully improved, unless the basic thoughts behind are changed.
ESA, PIP and UC have all something in common: whipping people back into work - teach them how to live - shape them up. It feels like being into an strict, rigid army boot-camp. People are forced, coerced, 'nudged' into work.

Reforms to the Social Security were discussed many years ago.
There were ideas that, in order to 'save people from poverty', we needed to be taught discipline, that being poor is somehow our fault, that we have no morals - that we needed to change our behaviours… or else.

That 'else' is now the way ESA, PIP and UC are set up.
They are strict, rigid, punitive and the smallest mistake severely punished.

I feel angry because the questions asked in the consultation guidance show that nobody in the government, nor the Commons Select Committee and neither the DWP have spent a single moment humbly asking themselves those same questions.

I.e., what have they done or not done to make the system unfriendly? - What have they done or not done, that so many people have to resort to appeals in such a high numbers?
What have they done or not done to make so many people's lives so miserable?

Have the policy-makers explored all issues about poverty?
I.e., economics: do people have enough access to loans, if they wish to set up a small business? Are they paid enough by their employers? And, are they respected by them?
Education: are schools good enough? Are teachers trained enough? [Take a leaf out of Finland's teacher's training's book for inspiration]
Infrastructures: is there enough support for people in work?
Job Centres: are they supportive, welcoming enough? Or just punitive and driven by numbers?

If the same ideas - that we are incapable of enough morals, will and wisdom to work; that people are just money-making things - are still upheld, then no matter how many tweaks and changes to ESA/PIP application forms are done, nothing will change; because the attitude behind them is the same.

So, my suggestion about the whole consultation project is.. Please, spend time looking within yourselves, within the
Neil says:
November 11, 2017 at 05:34 PM
Subject: ESA Assessment
Audio recorded, hcp lied/fabricated on many answers I gave and even omitted statements I gave which would have been crucial to get the benefit that I was previously on, all of this recorded proof that they lie to keep the dwp happy with the % they target.joke
TRees says:
November 11, 2017 at 10:27 AM
Subject: PIP and ESA Assessment
I hope the Committee finally ends these assessments.
Government has not been honest, every time they speak on the subject, it is always to deceive the public and voters into thinking these assessments are working and help is provided to most needy. They then go on to say constantly improving. It is utterly false. Nobody who is repeatedly told can possibly ignore. Gov can not ignore UN findings, they can not ignore Citizen's Advice and now a Senior Judge has spoken and said virtually all cases should not even be sent to Tribunal as in DWP have no case at all (BuzzFeed news). Judge has apparently said it is obvious in most cases the persons should get their award. In fact Judge allegedly wants to charge DWP for wasting their time for every case or send each back saying no argument.

I really hope Committee doesn't simply have a debate and then allow these assessments to continue.
People are desperate for an end to the immense stress, worried sick when the next re-assessment will be and when they will lose the only income they need to live on.
Not only that, many people worked to the point they can't any more, they paid in. They get labelled as non tax payer which is untrue. Claimants pay tax in various forms anyway! Enough now! Committee has to demand honesty and these processes are not honest.

You can't have PIP process that awards on mobility if can't mobilise 20 metres and ESA that awards on lowest measurement being 50 metres, what do you want people to do tick 50 metres when can't do it.

ESA Support Group is such a narrow field as in requirements that don't allow for so many conditions that can even be life threatening.

There are conditions like auto immune diseases, Hashimotos, thyroid diseases which are dangerous, yet there is no cure. People can't take the only meds available and such conditions are totally incapacitating for many, yet the prognosis or medical conditions lists used by DWP are far off the mark, they may say "easily treated" but fact is the meds don't cure the auto immune at all. Research hasn't found a cure. Where a process relates to how affects, person can put description but there are vast scary symptoms daily, yet assessors will do a ridiculous thumb squeeze test or count from ten backwards and decide fit. How about the medical conditions lists reflecting facts, whereby should relate to untreated which is life threatening and recognise the meds don't work for many people but the reason many do live on meds for life is literally to keep alive.
It can not be, that invisible illnesses (M.E. / CFS or Auto Immune diseases) can be played down, as they are on NHS/DWP prognosis / medical conditions lists!
People that are exhausted daily and all the other scary symptoms that go with it, dizzy, weak, brainfog etc, that can't be seen by any assessment (as not a broken leg in plaster etc)should be automatically recognised as exempt from assessments. They are incurable! Even if varies, they are still not fit to work unless they feel able, no assessor can decide that.
These assessments force attendance or at home, where people are likely to be laid up the rest of the time or even on and off but are not cured by any assessment nor Gov process.
It is, as you all know, cruel, callous.

The assessments are to boot people off, to save money. There are targets throughout.
DWP handbook rules are ignored.
The Legislation is ignored!

There is nothing honest about it. ATOS, Maximus and Capita all lie. It has all been in the press. Judges have told you. UN has told you. Charities and Citizens Advice and the public, we can't all be wrong.

We don't accept any pretend "we're constantly improving"!

End these horrid processes now please.
Andy says:
November 11, 2017 at 10:00 AM
Subject: PIP Assessment
I went to a PIP assesment and its not the assessment I found but the actual DWP lied in the decision. For example I got copd and according to the decision maker my peak flow was normal but it clearly states in the assesors report I didnt have a peak flow done so how does he know its normal. I turned down 2 face2 face because they were out of town, I accept one thats literally round the corner and I get 0 points for planning and making a journey, how I turned down 2 as i didn't think I could get there. There are many other things in the desicion maker descions that dont make sense I will be doing a m r but wont be the only action I take because if the claiment was found lying we would be up in court with a criminal conviction for fraud how is it different for DWP and the person making the descision the wbole system is corrupt
Anita says:
November 11, 2017 at 09:51 AM
Subject: PIP Assessment
I was assessed for my solely mental health condition (bipolar disorder) by a physiotherapist. She assured me that she had received mental health assessment training. I did not ask her how long this training was or how it enabled her to have more insight into my condition than my Psychiatrist. My psychiatrist believes I should get PIP, she has been my psychiatrist for over 9 years. She has over 20 years of training and experience in this area. I have bipolar disorder which is a lifelong condition. I spend roughly one third of my daily life managing my condition. I am able to do some freelance writing work due to my careful self management. I am also financially supported by my husband. I was very anxious and and paranoid in the build up to the interview. I know that they are trained to find reasons to not give me the benefit. Knowing that this assessment was coming up put my mental health back. I was too ill to do any freelance work. The assessor was respectful but had no real understanding about how a psychotic depression might actually affect a person. She was suggesting words like lack of motivation etc. It was clear that her mental health awareness was limited. Seeing her lack of awareness and the way the whole interview was conducted like an exam made it a terifying and humiliating experience. She cannot 'See' how my mental health affects me on a day to day basis. The emphasis is entirely on me to explain it for her tick boxes. Often, I cannot talk to anybody - let alone articulate my inner world to somebody who has only superficial knowledge and is acting within a mechanism that is hostile.
Following the assessment, I became extremely anxious and felt like I was being watched and followed. I started hearing judging voices coming from outside that were not real. I have had to up my medication. I am 'lucky' that my mental health is not worse.
I applied in July and my assessment just happened in November. If I didn't have my husband. I would have been evicted by now and using food banks. It is another 6 weeks before I hear anything. This process is barbaric and inhumane. Nobody chooses to have a disability.
TRees says:
November 11, 2017 at 01:47 AM
Subject: PIP and ESA Assessment
I hope the Committee finally ends these assessments.
Government has not been honest, every time they speak on the subject, it is always to deceive the public and voters into thinking these assessments are working and help is provided to most needy. They then go on to say constantly improving. It is utterly false. Nobody who is repeatedly told can possibly ignore. Gov can not ignore UN findings, they can not ignore Citizen's Advice and now a Senior Judge has spoken and said virtually all cases should not even be sent to Tribunal as in DWP have no case at all (BuzzFeed news). Judge has apparently said it is obvious in most cases the persons should get their award. In fact Judge allegedly wants to charge DWP for wasting their time for every case or send each back saying no argument.

I really hope Committee doesn't simply have a debate and then allow these assessments to continue.
People are desperate for an end to the immense stress, worried sick when the next re-assessment will be and when they will lose the only income they need to live on.
Not only that, many people worked to the point they can't any more, they paid in. They get labelled as non tax payer which is untrue. Claimants pay tax in various forms anyway! Enough now! Committee has to demand honesty and these processes are not honest.

You can't have PIP process that awards on mobility if can't mobilise 20 metres and ESA that awards on lowest measurement being 50 metres, what do you want people to do tick 50 metres when can't do it.

ESA Support Group is such a narrow field as in requirements that don't allow for so many conditions that can even be life threatening.

There are conditions like auto immune diseases, Hashimotos, thyroid diseases which are dangerous, yet there is no cure. People can't take the only meds available and such conditions are totally incapacitating for many, yet the prognosis or medical conditions lists used by DWP are far off the mark, they may say "easily treated" but fact is the meds don't cure the auto immune at all. Research hasn't found a cure. Where a process relates to how affects, person can put description but there are vast scary symptoms daily, yet assessors will do a ridiculous thumb squeeze test or count from ten backwards and decide fit. How about the medical conditions lists reflecting facts, whereby should relate to untreated which is life threatening and recognise the meds don't work for many people but the reason many do live on meds for life is literally to keep alive.
It can not be, that invisible illnesses (M.E. / CFS or Auto Immune diseases) can be played down, as they are on NHS/DWP prognosis / medical conditions lists!
People that are exhausted daily and all the other scary symptoms that go with it, dizzy, weak, brainfog etc, that can't be seen by any assessment (as not a broken leg in plaster etc)should be automatically recognised as exempt from assessments. They are incurable! Even if varies, they are still not fit to work unless they feel able, no assessor can decide that.
These assessments force attendance or at home, where people are likely to be laid up the rest of the time or even on and off but are not cured by any assessment nor Gov process.
It is, as you all know, cruel, callous.

The assessments are to boot people off, to save money. There are targets throughout.
DWP handbook rules are ignored.
The Legislation is ignored!

There is nothing honest about it. ATOS, Maximus and Capita all lie. It has all been in the press. Judges have told you. UN has told you. Charities and Citizens Advice and the public, we can't all be wrong.

We don't accept any pretend "we're constantly improving"!

End these horrid processes now please.
Paul says:
November 11, 2017 at 01:43 AM
Subject: PIP Assessment
Atos assessor in my case appeared to have little or no understanding of mental health issues and just wanted to check for physical ailments. He ignored a lot of my explanations and even lied about what myself and my partner had told him. I tried to appeal my decision and the tribunal found in favour of DWP without any consideration or investigation into the evidence we had provided indicating the ATOS lies that the initial decision had been based on. Yes the system needs changing. I would suggest not outsourcing assessments to ATOS or any third party in the first instance
Lorraine says:
November 11, 2017 at 01:04 AM
Subject: PIP Assessment
I filled in my partners pip form,sent it off. Went for assessment,last month. In 3weeks,they sent a reply and my partner was knocked back. Zero points on care and hygiene and 4 points on mobility. The lies they wrote about my partner is fabricated. My partner is severely distressed by it all. We was asked to have my partners old DLA form put towards the pip form as evidence to strengthen the form,but to be discriminated against,because I did not go to Citizens Advice,is down right appalling. The assessor did ask me,did I had help in filling in the form? I said no,I filled the form in. Then the assessor looked at my partners hands as they where both red and swollen and said you have a bleed on the liver. I did most off the talking,as my partner was drowsy with his medication, but in the statement with the pip decision,that my partner was chatty!! Completely untrue. My partner suffers with Manic depression, paranoid schizophrenia, split personality disorder,hypertension, violent outbursts,obsessive compulsory disorder. What got me was that the assessor told us it was a straight swap over from DLA to pips and should take 4/8 weeks. It has taken less than a month!! I am definitely going to appeal