Women battling for paper-based assessment have won PIP, including Mrs X. Here is her story and how she won:
My horrible PIP experience and 16 letters of complaint!
“I am a 65-year old woman who lives in Essex. In 2012 I had a stroke caused by excessively high blood pressure (I had no idea). That night I nearly died and I still say thank you every day that I was spared. I was left badly physically affected all down my right side and because of where the stroke happened have developed thalamic pain syndrome [severe chronic pain]. In 2013, I was awarded DLA high on both care and mobility. In June 2018 I received the dreaded brown envelope inviting me to make the transfer to PIP. The stress of completing the application form was great. My daughter and husband had to do it for me. It left me drained, tearful and exhausted. Masses (and I do mean masses) of evidence in the form of statements from medical professionals, friends, family went back with the application giving chapter and verse of how I am affected on a daily basis.”
“In August I received a telephone call from PIP demanding that they come to my home, giving less than 48 hours’ notice to do a face-to-face assessment. I became hysterical because I cannot cope with pressurising questions. The man on the other end of the phone did not care. He kept on and on at me until I cut him off. Thus began a six-month battle that has left me completely exhausted and wrung out. My husband fought and fought for me along with my wonderful GP who verbally told the assessment services (Atos) in a telephone conversation with their Health Practitioner assessor — my GP made it clear — no face-to-face. It’s a risk to her blood pressure to put her under this stress. Paper-based assessment please.”
Mrs X, who was herself a senior nurse with over 30 years’ experience, says: “The Health Professional lied and distorted the facts of that telephone conversation. For a nurse to behave like this is an utter disgrace and there is now an ongoing case with the Nursing & Midwifery Council against her for fitness to practice with regards to her QUOTE ”Dishonestly representing a GP’s opinion in a PIP assessment and placing a member of the public at risk.”
“I was bullied, coerced, intimidated. I received a number of phone calls from IAS despite numerous letters of complaint sent by my husband asking them to remove my mobile number and our landline. I began to be fearful of the phone ringing. Eventually we changed our landline number. IAS denied these calls but we have the evidence of them. Every single telephone call we made to them we recorded. The lies told to us were terrific. My GP wrote a letter stating the reasons why a face-to-face was detrimental to me. Ignored. They could not have cared less and it became what felt like a vendetta, a battle of wills over who would give in. My GP prescribed Valium to help me with the stress. I was terrified it would play havoc with my blood pressure and I would have another stroke.”
“Time and time again IAS were told a paper-based review was the only way I could be assessed. Ignored. They did not care if it killed me as long as they got their own way.”
“The ladies at WinVisible were amazing and tried to help by contacting the Atos Parliamentary staff that deal with MPs’ enquiries on behalf of people. Still IAS would not budge. Eventually in desperation after 6 months of sheer hell, I rang DWP and got to speak to the loveliest manager who took on board my situation. Still IAS would not give an inch. Under the advice of the Equality Advisory Support Service, we sent them a “failure to make reasonable adjustments” complaint.”
For template outline letter, see: https://www.equalityadvisoryservice.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/336
“It was truly amazing that, when faced with this, how fast IAS dropped my case and did what they should have done months back and returned my case to DWP. There it was handled by my lovely manager. Within a few days, I was sent a letter telling me I had been awarded enhanced daily living. Because I was not physically assessed they could not see my mobility issues so I lost out, but I was so happy. [See our note below about mobility — WinVisible.] IAS had maintained that there was insufficient evidence. Funny how DWP were able to award me high (enhanced daily living) based on all the evidence I had sent in my application, yet the assessor maintained ‘insufficient evidence’?
I have so many people to thank for the support. My lovely husband, my daughter, friends, the ladies at WinVisible, my GP, my stroke consultant. The one person who let me down terribly was my MP. She did very little to help. Made a lot of noise but did really nothing, but then she is Conservative and who brought PIP in? I come from a long family line of Tory voters but I will never ever vote for them again!
16 letters, yes 16 letters of complaint to IAS, the majority ignored. So many phonecalls. Arguments, lies, intimidation left both my husband and I very bruised, battered and cynical about the PIP process. It is a nightmare and the stories are true. So unfair that the people it affects are the sick and vulnerable. None of us ask to have their lives turned upside down by this process.”
“We have ongoing complaints with the Independent Case Examiner, the Nursing & Midwifery Council and finally the Information Commissioner’s Office for breaking the law regarding my subject access request to IAS and possible data tampering of my file. My advice to anyone undertaking this is to record every single telephone call with the assessment services. I would strongly recommend to anyone, inform them first, I am recording this. As long as you are only doing it for your own personal record you are not by law obliged to even inform them. It is amazing the lies and distortions you will isolate when listening back and how you catch them out. I never got to a face to face assessment because I listened to the advice from my GP because of my medical circumstances.”
“The relief that it is over is immense. I would say that you can pass onto people that the DWP are not the ogres they are made out to be. It is not them! They know what the assessment services do but the ordinary employee can do nothing about it. It comes from on high. When the assessment returns to DWP they go on what is written in the reports from the assessors. Numerous times it is all lies but DWP don’t know this. They then base their decision on that. I would recommend for people to contact DWP direct if they are having a hard time. It was actually said to me by one of their call handlers: DWP are not perfect & deserve what they get at times but the assessment services cause so much aggro.”
WinVisible adds: Mrs X’s story shows how hard we have to fight and you can be successful if your PIP claim is sent back to the DWP for a decision. Don’t withdraw your claim completely, as you have a chance of getting PIP worth thousands of pounds from the date you claimed. Other women have won both daily living AND standard or enhanced mobility component of PIP from DWP decisions on the paper evidence, after their claim was referred back by Atos. The assessor companies say you have to be seen to assess your level of mobility, but this type of test is not accurate or fair anyway. Getting PIP mobility depends what paper evidence you have. You can also appeal a low award or refusal, if you are ready to keep fighting.
We are shocked that the Royal College of Nursing is advertising jobs with Atos despite our 2011 joint campaign to stop recruitment for Atos by the British Medical Journal and RCN.