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.

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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

Jonny D says:
November 10, 2017 at 08:51 PM
Subject: ESA Assessment
It's important to remember that the (claimed) core belief for doing these assessments to push people into work is that being in work correlates with good health, and worklessness leads to poor health. This is untrue.

Unbiased surveys show the real truth: it is poverty that leads to ill health, independent of how much someone is working. Therefore, even if you cast aside all the human rights violations that have resulted from the policies implemented to date, they cannot achieve their intended goal because they start from a false belief.

If the DWP were really committed to improving the health of those on benefits, they would end the assessments (which are proven to cause permanently damaged mental health, extreme poverty, and death), and increase the levels of benefits (leading to better managing conditions, greater participation in society, and money recirculated rather than funnelled into tax havens).

If they were really committed to getting disabled people into work, they would ask what is stopping them, design a plan to break down or mitigate those barriers, and then place them in jobs. Instead it's about taking money away and leaving us to rot. There is no defence, it's a false initial assumption with further falsehoods piled on top, and people died.
Mary says:
November 10, 2017 at 08:34 PM
Subject: PIP Assessment
Summary:
• Assessor lied
• DWP awarded me 8 points
• Tribunal eleven months later, awarded me 11 additional points
Did I mention? She. Lied.
Mary says:
November 10, 2017 at 08:19 PM
Subject: PIP Assessment
• Having had ME/Fibromyalgia for 28 years, I applied to go to PIP from DLA in June, 2016 and the Tribunal was at the end of May, 2017, eleven months!
• The assessment was done in my home; I live on my own and did not have a witness, as I have become a recluse because of these illnesses.
• ME is a chocolate sampler-box of illnesses; Reynauds, petite-mal seizures, multiple chemical sensitivities, acute hearing and light-sensitivity to name only a few.
• The assessor was haughty and brisk throughout; her eyes bulged out as she demanded me to, "Stand up, NOW!"
• She left without taking the Handout I had given her which included medical letters. I sent these on to Capita that day, at their suggestion, when I telephoned to advise them. DWP said they never received the paperwork from Capita so sent copies to the DWP.
• The report written by the nurse was full of lies. A few examples are: She wrote I arose from the chair without any difficulty (I was in bed the whole time [she let herself in]) and I only have the one chair in the room and she was sitting in it! She said that I had no difficulty reading with my glasses yet I do not wear glasses to read. She wrote that I regularly drive my car and I told her I may drive it once in two weeks. "Regularly" is open to interpretation.
• She was deliberately misleading. In response to her question about how far can I walk, I replied, "If you are asking how far I can walk without pain, I'm in pain with the first step." She wrote that my reply was, less than 50 metres! That is not what I had said yet one cannot argue that one step is less than fifty metres. Diabolical wordage.
• It has been a difficult, senseless and needless journey combatting the system; all the more difficult being a single person in her 60s without family and friends to provide support and encouragement.
• As a former executive prior to my illness, I know that accountability is paramount in the business world. Who is accountable for PIP?!? Who takes responsibility?

Mary says:
November 10, 2017 at 08:17 PM
Subject: PIP Assessment
• Having had ME/Fibromyalgia for 28 years, I applied to go to PIP from DLA in June, 2016 and the Tribunal was at the end of May, 2017, eleven months!
• The assessment was done in my home; I live on my own and did not have a witness, as I have become a recluse because of these illnesses.
• ME is a chocolate sampler-box of illnesses; Reynauds, petite-mal seizures, multiple chemical sensitivities, acute hearing and light-sensitivity to name only a few.
• The assessor was haughty and brisk throughout; her eyes bulged out as she demanded me to, "Stand up, NOW!"
• She left without taking the Handout I had given her which included medical letters. I sent these on to Capita that day, at their suggestion, when I telephoned to advise them. DWP said they never received the paperwork from Capita so sent copies to the DWP.
• The report written by the nurse was full of lies. A few examples are: She wrote I arose from the chair without any difficulty (I was in bed the whole time [she let herself in]) and I only have the one chair in the room and she was sitting in it! She said that I had no difficulty reading with my glasses yet I do not wear glasses to read. She wrote that I regularly drive my car and I told her I may drive it once in two weeks. "Regularly" is open to interpretation.
• She was deliberately misleading. In response to her question about how far can I walk, I replied, "If you are asking how far I can walk without pain, I'm in pain with the first step." She wrote that my reply was, less than 50 metres! That is not what I had said yet one cannot argue that one step is less than fifty metres. Diabolical wordage.
• It has been a difficult, senseless and needless journey combatting the system; all the more difficult being a single person in her 60s without family and friends to provide support and encouragement.
• As a former executive prior to my illness, I know that accountability is paramount in the business world. Who is accountable for PIP?!? Who takes responsibility?

Michaelo says:
November 10, 2017 at 08:14 PM
Subject: PIP and ESA Assessment
I'll start by stating I'm a severe dyslexic and I'm dictating this so they may be errors that I will miss when I check over this.
This brings me to my first point Pip at least provided me with audio CDs as requested for both the form and the letters they have sent. ESA on the other hand or the job centre for JSA has not this is been the case for many years for previous claims. over 20 years ago I went on to DLA after been on long term sick with an ankle injury then my dyslexia counted for nothing then and I was denied the benefit. I have a reading age of 8 1/2 I read at 8 words a minute this counts for nothing in any of the disability assessments I scored two points for my ability of to read in a PIP form because I use an aid. They're still clear discrimination against those of us with severe learning disabilities within the system this needs to be addressed. Additionally on Pip side of things and ESA you have to phone to speak with somebody to get started climbing. I have certain dyspraxic traits that make it difficult for me to make phone calls. it's always been difficult phoning somebody you don't know is something that is a serious anxiety for people like myself. Also without going to Citizens Advice etc are finding somebody who is in your family to fill in the forms with you there is no real help available anywhere for anybody with this sort of disability. this needs to change. very Clement unfriendly. ATOS is quite an osteer and standoffish, not only that I was kept waiting 50 minutes in pain in the waiting room as they have missed timed my appointment on the office notes. I then spent an hour and 50 minutes in my appointment I was finally awarded basic Pip. And quite frankly as a first attempt I think I've done quite well and I haven't challenge the reading section simply because it's not labelled in the system for the being any leeway in the criteria to give me a higher points that needs fixing. As for ESA the doctor I saw was very nice understanding made helpful suggestions about speaking to neurology for other therapies because as a meal depression can manifest as physical symptoms as well as other things but when it comes to what you wrote she has focused on about 5 minutes worth of the 50 minutes I was there, misrepresented much of what was said. And left out descriptions of pain focus on the fact that I managed to get on the bus carrier bag of shopping she never asked how much shopping and considering it was four weeks since I've managed to do such a task they still qualify as being capable of doing something she also said that I was capable of sitting still observe sitting still for more than an hour I was in for only 50 minutes. I was in no way sat still and she made me stand up after 40 so she could do the physical assessment which you can not do a postural spinal alignment assessment through a person's clothing. I am qualified to do postural assessments as I'm a sports therapists you cannot do it over clothes correctly. Also you seem to be penalised for adopting a coping mentality rather than one of surrender to your condition. So having a very British attitude about your illness is penalised how can this be right we live with what we have to suffer. we do what we must to carry on. this is penalised and that is wrong. I am tolerant to all opioids except tramadol I currently need to be taking to be pain free to take 400 micrograms off Tramadol a day at least plus a 4 grams of paracetamol but I cannot do this as I will become tolerant to the only high-end painkiller that I'm not tolerant to. I have been advised by doctors and specialists that if I can try and grit the pain it would be better than to take the maximum dosage because I will become torrent this would leave me in a worse state if I were to have surgery to rectify my current issues. The assessor seems to have taken this as I only need t I'll be in a serious accident. So take a small amount a day even though I explained my tolerance and the situation. Other things such as claiming that we didn't answer the phone I have a mobile phone that records missed calls and there is an answer service neither were triggered. Terms being used as claimant reports infer disbelief and in my case a simple conversation or messaged to my GP will confirm that I do indeed have the spasms are reported as he has been witness to one. So this feels as though either the assessors are deliberately lying and misleading for these reports, management are altering these reports or there is both happening in this system. And quite frankly any assessor that is willing regardless of it being the job if you're qualified doctor has plenty of opportunities for jobs. anyone willing to write such doctored reports doesn't deserve have a medical licence there is a serious moral issue with how these reports are carried out. Especially at the high percentage of appeal wins Other factors such as out-of-the-way test centres,video surveillanc and last minute cancellations
Chris l says:
November 10, 2017 at 08:08 PM
Subject: PIP Assessment
Attended PIP interview late last year for consideration of migration from DLA to PIP. The result of this process was I was considered ineligible for the new benefit scoring just below the threshold on both elements of PIP.

Some background, I have a progressive and incurable condition of the heart, lungs and circulatory system which severely limits energy, mobility strength.
The paperwork element of the process was very difficult to complete, it took the effort of my wife, a registered community nurse and myself to complete the forms over several days. Duly completed and medical evidence enclosed the forms were returned to DWP.
On the day of the assessment I was seen by a representative of Atos who asked what I did during the day and vwhat incomes I had and if my wife worked.
Going further I was asked what symptoms I had and how they affected my daily needs.
I was also asked what my mobility capabilities were and how far I could walk, toward the end of the meeting I was also asked why I felt I should be entitled to money.
I endeavoured to answer these questions as I had put on the form but told the representative I would confirm specifics on the form rather than generalise and make mistakes as to what was written, at this point the representatives attitude changed to the point of becoming argumentative and taunting I felt very uncomfortable at that point, especially when the representative told me I should stop taking some of my medication so I did not need to attend hospital for regular blood tests, I questioned her qualifications, she said she was a nurse,.I was surprised.
In due course I received my letter of refusal, I initially thought it I was the wrong recipient because it differed so much from what had been discussed. I was shocked a formal organisation would allow such errors, statements I were misrepresented and at times clearly recorded wrongly to disadvantage my case, they were in fact lies.
Subsequently I asked for mandatory reconsideration hoping the inaccuracies would be addressed, sadly this process remained cynical and non supportive. I submitted two signed statements as to the inaccuracies and manipulation of what I had said at the meeting and how I felt I had been treated wrongly. Mandatory Reconsideration advised me to take up these problems with the company and further to this they supported the assessor. Worryingly they supported this statement by saying if I could tour Scotland in a caravan I had no mobility needs this shocked me I have not owned or toured with a caravan in over fifteen years. I sometimes wonder if I have a full grip of reality!
Following this I received a full written copy of the representatives view of what happened in the meeting this was in a similar vane as to the rest of the process, There was no clinical assessment of symptoms, where health issues were present the representative said there was no evidence of such despite taking no clinical observations at all ie breathing tests, blood pressure measurement, the process is covered with pseudo clinical assessment to validate a system based on austerity rather than an individuals problems in dealing with their health needs.
I have requested an appeal and I am waiting for an appeal date, ten months now.
I wish I were well enough to go further and more detailed into this sadly I cannot one more hurdle placed in the way of the disabled and chronically ill
fit as a fiddle says:
November 10, 2017 at 08:06 PM
Subject: PIP and ESA Assessment
claimant friendly!?

are you kidding me?


I had a stroke one year ago, which has left me with weakness down my left side and minimal functional control of my hand and arm, foot and leg on that side. AS a result I now have to mobilise with the aid of a stick.

in the past 6 months I have had to undergo a disability assessment for PIP and a ridiculously simplistic examination, masquerading as a work capability assessment.
ESA is by along way the worst - so demeaning and it is scandalous the stunts they pull.
They deliberately mess you about with dates, sending you conflicting written invitations to confuse you
And when they do get their sorry act together to arrange it, they promptly wait until the day of the appointment to cancel or postpone you, with scarcely an hour's notice.
All no doubt to make it as difficult as possible for your carer/ family member to accompany you to the appointment
I had this happen for both of the appointments I was given,
The upshot of this was because of their scheduling foul-ups the assessment was rushed and even more of a charade than normal.
Having seen the written report by the so-called HCP ( dentist? psychologist? dietician? NHS manager, healthcare assistant?, I am fuming!! This is taking the absolute Mickey.

Apparently the real physical and gognitive disabilities I have and are documented by proper doctors and consultants are a figment of my imagination, and this so called HCP found my affected side "completely normal".
This system is mocking sick and disabled people just as cruelly as ignorant kids did in the 70s and 80s taking the rise out of Joey Deacon!
Apparently if you can get a microwave meal out of the microwave and/or make a cup of tea , you don't have a disability.

I wonder if dame Tanney Grey Thompson can make tea? If she can, she is not disabled either, according to the scale I have been rated on.

What a farce!


Mary says:
November 10, 2017 at 07:53 PM
Subject: PIP and ESA Assessment
I have had both assessments , ESA declined , pip enhanced living with standard mobility, both assessments contradicted each other, one saying I have limited capability, other saying I have no problems with my disabilities, I waiting for ESA tribunal , since May, I have been told to claim job seekers has I will lose Spd if I go back on ESA assessment rate, work advisors and ESA advisors say it's unbelievable what's going on , capital did both assesments, one nurse was aware of my chronic conditions, one knew nothing , blaming the flu injection on how I was feeling, one was a nurse middle age with experience , one straight out of uni, both I will say twisting my words, both I felt uncomtable with, both trying to make me say and do things I was uncomtable with, have been unwell for over two years, only last December 2016, I became so unwell I had to give up work, reduced hours leading up to this, I miss work and being in a working environment , but cannot work though how It affects my well being, all I can say it's an unpleasant system, how it's run is unbelievable.
Helen says:
November 10, 2017 at 07:38 PM
Subject: PIP Assessment
The right decision was not reached as my PIP was stopped after assessment - my disability is physical, visible and will not improve. My physical disability causes mental health problems.

The person assessing me was not trained to assess my disability. My medical records were not looked at. It was no more than a box ticking exercise.

Mandatory Reconsideration was not effective nor useful - no direction given, just another box ticking exercise.

The assessment process is not claimaint-friendly. It is bureaucratic, inefficient, punitive and degrading.

Rip it up and start again! The current system is not fit for purpose.
T says:
November 10, 2017 at 07:17 PM
Subject: PIP Assessment
Did you feel that the right decision on your entitlement to ESA/PIP was reached as a result of your initial assessment?
No 
If not—what do you feel were the reasons for this?
The assessment scored me with zero points, and failed to take into account the fact I need 'prompting' to do everyday tasks - which is scored criteria.
If you have experience of Mandatory Reconsideration, did you find this stage effective and useful? How might it be improved?
I requested a MR, which (of course - I'm cynical, I know) came back with the upheld zero score. I feel the only reason it was useful was because it then allowed me to progress to appeal at tribunal.
Overall, how "claimant-friendly" did you find the assessment process?
Not at all; I have mental health needs, not physical ones, and these were overlooked at every stage, and this was only finally properly scored at the tribunal.
What steps would you recommend taking to improve it?
Not outsourcing to 3rd party assessors with a target to fail a certain amount of application would help. It would also save the Govt money if they got the process right in the first place. And the fact that 61% of decisions are overturned at tribunal should make somebody somewhere wake up and smell the coffee!