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Can the DWP block you from speaking to your Case Manager for Mandatory Reconsideration?

Fight4Justice
Fight4Justice Member Posts: 63 Courageous
edited March 2018 in PIP, DLA, and AA
I have sent in my MR in writing using the DWP's form here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/challenge-a-decision-made-by-the-department-for-work-and-pensions-dwp

However, I thought it might be useful to also speak to my Case Manager just to make sure they go through it all. My concern is they won't bother looking at the written information I've sent in properly. And just "rubber stamp" the original PIP award, given by the first Case Manager, which I'm trying to get changed.

I've tried twice now to get through to the Case Manager for my file. Both times I've been told there's "no legal obligation" for the Case Manager to speak to me. They said they would make a note that I wanted to speak to them, but due to how busy they are, it's unlikely they will be able to.

Can anyone more experienced with the MR process, tell me if this is normal? Or are they trying to trick me out of a right I have, to speak to my Case Manager? Everything I want considered is in the written MR form I sent them. So as long as they do their job properly and look through all that evidence, I think it should be fine. However, like I said earlier, I'm worried they won't bother looking at the information I sent in properly.

Based on the 80% unsuccessful MR statistic, I'm guessing it's a long shot anyway.
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Comments

  • charlene
    charlene Member Posts: 555 Pioneering
    Hello, I am going through the MR stage like you and this is one of my concerns.  The first case study manager, did not read through  my evidence and rubber stamped what the assessor said.
    When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
  • wildlife
    wildlife Member Posts: 1,308 Pioneering
    @Fight4Justice I will tell you about my own experience but don't know if it was according to any rules or just because I'm insistent and don't take no for an answer. I was going through the MR process around March/April last year. I rang and spoke to an advisor and was asking questions he couldn't answer so HE asked ME if i would like to book a call back from a decision maker (now been changed to case manager). I agreed and a timescale of 24 hrs was given to me. I had my call and all went well and later I did this again even giving myself a few days to prepare before the call by forward booking it for when I would be in. Again this worked well. However the case managers who rang were anyone who was free not specifically the one working on my claim, but they log into your claim and can see all your info. online. I assumed this was possible as I was offered the calls rather than being refused. I have read many posts on here with different versions of what happens when they try and speak to a case manager so I don't know whether they make the rules up to suit themselves. I would suggest you re post in ask a benefit adviser or maybe someone else has the answer as to what your rights actually are.    
  • Fight4Justice
    Fight4Justice Member Posts: 63 Courageous
    @wildlife
    That is a good idea about trying to get a timescale for the call back. Can I ask whether you think speaking to a Case Manager helped your case? As in did you feel you got a better outcome from your Mandatory Reconsideration, by being able to speak to a Case Manager? Or did you still need to go to a Tribunal appeal?

    I hope that @mikehughescq may be able to shed some light if he's not busy.
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Posts: 8,847 Connected
    There’s no obligation, legal or otherwise, for them to talk to claimants and no evidence it makes any difference. Logically it can only likely make things worse for you and others. Every phone conversation potentially equals one less decision made. So, on the one hand your starting position is that they have everything but they’re too thick or short of time to address it properly. On the other hand you’re making the phone calls which actually cause them to be further short of time. It’s not a winning strategy to say the least and there’s a certain arrogance involved in assuming that what you do impacts no-one else and, if you could only talk to them, they would change their mind. 

    Whilst the decision making process has huge flaws people have to be allowed to get on with their jobs and the assumption of everyone on web forums that they are undoubtedly entitled is very much mistaken.
  • wildlife
    wildlife Member Posts: 1,308 Pioneering
    @Fight4Justice It definitely helped. I prepared an A4 sheet of questions for the 2nd call which was after my MR. Basically because I'd complained to ATOS about my assessor lying etc. My first MR came back standard for both but the reasoning contained an offer to look at my claim again if my complaint changed anything regarding the medical advice from ATOS to DWP. It wasn't even investigated for 5 months by ATOS but I decided to use this offer to get another review of my claim. Anyone can keep asking for reviews right up to Appeal but most people don't know you can do this. If you keep sending in more evidence which I was told to do during the time you're waiting to go to appeal the DWP have to look at it each time. At least that's what I was told. They send it back to be assessed by another HCP who either agrees or disagrees with the original assessor. My mobility was changed to higher rate but not the daily living at what I call my second MR, and I decided to accept this and wait for my review in 2 years. I suffered a breakdown last year from all the stress.
        Just as a matter of interest I had a phone call from a case manager to let me know about the mobility offer and to ask if I would accept it. So I spoke to them 3 times in all. All the case managers I spoke to were really nice and not what I expected. I got the impression they do want to get things right but their hands are tied by the system which tells them they must agree with all the info. the assessors write on your report if it is a medically related as DWP staff have no medical knowledge whatsoever. I didn't go to Appeal as I did what was best for me and my health at the time. I advise anyone to stand up to these people but not to be aggressive. Let them know they are wrong in any way you can and make it easy for them by referring to your evidence in your MR. Talking on the phone gives you the chance to tackle them about the evidence they're not using and to talk things through getting instant answers instead of waiting weeks for the brown envelope. The advice on here is often to wait for the decision or outcome of the MR and then start the fight, but I didn't. I stayed one step ahead all the time and got what I was happy with at least for the time being.    
  • Fight4Justice
    Fight4Justice Member Posts: 63 Courageous
    @mikehughescq

    Thank you for the reply.

    "So, on the one hand your starting position is that they have everything but they’re too thick or short of time to address it properly".

    Unfortunately for me, the above has been the case in my own personal experience with DWP's Decision Makers. That may sound arrogant, but I believe it to be the case.

    I recall reading recently that 69% of Tribunal appeals are now being found in the claimant's favour. Therefore, there's clearly something wrong with their decision making process.

    What annoys me the most is the lack of accountability. I can get my MR rejected, wait 6-9 months for my Tribunal appeal. Win that. But the DWP don't get punished for putting me through 6-9 months of hell. I think that's precisely the reason the DWP have outsourced the assessments to private companies like Atos. So when things go wrong, they can just say it's Atos' fault. Which is what they do of course. Every time you complain about your "PA4 Consultation report form", the DWP say to go complain to them directly. Which is a complete waste of time.
  • Fight4Justice
    Fight4Justice Member Posts: 63 Courageous
    @wildlife

    Thank you for sharing your experience and the extra info.

    I had no idea the following was the case:

    "Anyone can keep asking for reviews right up to Appeal but most people don't know you can do this. If you keep sending in more evidence which I was told to do during the time you're waiting to go to appeal the DWP have to look at it each time. At least that's what I was told. They send it back to be assessed by another HCP who either agrees or disagrees with the original assessor".

    That seems like a useful trick to use. In my case, I think everything I can provide, I did so in my written MR form. I'm now worried based on what mikehughescq said, that any future calls may work against me. I think I'm probably going to wait and see if I do get a call back. If not, I will see what they say in the MR. Due to the rejection rate, I'm not very hopeful. If I am unsuccessful, then I will try to do what you did whilst waiting for my Tribunal Appeal.

    I think you're right in the fact that not all the Case Manager's will be out to get you, in the same way the "Health Professionals" working for private companies are. As I guess the HP's are financially incentivised to reject or reduce your PIP claim. Also I think many of the Case Manager's working for the DWP will have worked under previous govts, before the system became "cruel" and "heartless". Hopefully there might be a change at the next General Election.
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Posts: 8,847 Connected
    As I’m reading it, the phone calls in @wildlife case were largely irrelevant. The key thing there was the complaint put a different recommendation on the table. 

    Sending in new evidence at the appeal stage is fine but it’s not true to say each one goes back to the assessment provider. That almost never happens unless the volume of evidence overwhelmingly points against the HCP recommendation. In most cases it just goes to DWP; gets added to the appeal papers and zilch happens. 
  • wildlife
    wildlife Member Posts: 1,308 Pioneering
    @mikehughescq Only myself and/or the DM's I spoke to can say whether or not the phone calls I made changed my award in any way. @Fight4Justice was asking for my opinion as to whether they helped which is what I gave. I'm not saying what would happen in anyone else's claim only what my own experience was. The decision to change my mobility after the MR was not brought about by sending in new evidence even though I did send a small amount, 1 A4 sheet but by my phone call to draw the DWP's attention to a "volume of overwhelming evidence" they'd had since day 1 which my first assessor, followed by a second HP along with the relevant case workers had all ignored. I know you are an expert and respect a lot of what you say but only I have  knowledge as to what helped and what didn't. I always make it clear that it's only my own experience I'm writing about. The second case worker I spoke to spent some time explaining to me how the system works regarding medical evidence so it's information direct from DWP regarding sending evidence back to another HP. When I did a "Subject Access Request" later in my claim I was sent my PA4 which I had already, but also a PA5 completed by an ATOS HP for my MR and a PA6 completed by yet another HP after my MR. The Scope advisers have agreed that Case Workers can change the decision anytime up to Appeal. I'm not saying who is right but just what happened to me. If there is a actual form
    available that allows for another review after MR someone must have decided it can happen. I would agree that not all evidence would be sent back to another HP. it would depend on whether it was new evidence but still applying to the claimants condition as at the time of their claim. 
       The only way the complaint helped was the fact that I'd made one and let DWP know I had done that. If I'd handled my claim the way you recommend that people do I would still be on standard rate for both elements of PIP or have had to wait for months for Appeal. Of course expert advice will always be based on what should happen or how the process should work and I respect that but I consider there is room on a forum for all types of experience and advice to be offered to those seeking help without one party discounting what the other has said. It's then up to the OP to decide which advice they wish to pursue.  
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Posts: 8,847 Connected
    Personal experience is hugely valuable but I haven’t said that you can’t get a decision reviewed at any time. I’ve also agreed that your complaint will have assisted. Bit confused as to what you think we disagree on.
  • wildlife
    wildlife Member Posts: 1,308 Pioneering
    to quote " the phonecalls in @wildlife's case were largely irrellevant". My claim would not have been reviewed again after the MR if I hadn't rung and negotiated another review. My reasons for asking for a further review were a) the first DM had mentioned they would do this if anything changed. Nothing changed as far as the complaint was concerned but I rang anyway and used their lack of noticing 46 years of mental health engagement. So that phone call was extremely rellevant. When you wrote the above quote your reasoning was that the complaint had made the difference rather than the phone calls, but lots of people make complaints to ATOS/Capita but it doesn't help their claim unless they follow it through and it doesn't get them another review unless they ask for one. Asking in a letter or email does not have the same impact as talking to someone. I do accept all you say about whether they want to talk to claimants or the time factor, but if things are going wrong that will continue unless you become proactive. 
       If you're saying a decision can be reviewed at any time including between the MR and Appeal then you have let people know that if this is to be done properly then their evidence including any new evidence has to be sent back to be seen by another HCP. Telling people this hardly ever happens will stop claimants checking to see if this has been carried out and also asking for the result of the further review.  Remember I'm describing what happened in my case and specifically within my claim not making a generalization about all claims.
          I asked during the "irrelevant" phone call why my case documents had been returned to ATOS and was told that is what DWP have to do because they don't have any medical knowledge whatsoever. Now either that case manager was delusional or you are giving people the wrong impression that's there's nothing they can do if a Case Worker decides either he/she won't carry out another review or they'll make the decision on medical matters themselves. So the message I'm trying to get across which you disagreed with is that if you do send in more medical evidence it should be returned to be reviewed again and if it is not a phone call to make this happen might help as it did in my case. 
  • Fight4Justice
    Fight4Justice Member Posts: 63 Courageous
    @wildlife

    "If you're saying a decision can be reviewed at any time including between the MR and Appeal then you have let people know that if this is to be done properly then their evidence including any new evidence has to be sent back to be seen by another HCP".

    I agree that what you said here "most" people probably wouldn't know you could do. I certainly didn't. Obviously, this will probably only work for cases where the HCP has really made significant mistakes like mikehughescq said, that can then be taken apart over the phone like you did. It seems like a very important tool that people should be made aware of.

    I'm hoping this will be very relevant to my own case. Because the HCP in my case didn't take my diagnosis for autism into account when assessing me. It gets worse than that though. Under every descriptor, where I've previously been awarded points. They then gave the following reason as their justification to remove my previous points awards "the claimant indicated there had been no change, but he has no diagnosed cognitive impairment". Which is clearly untrue. I have pointed this out in my written MR. When I called the DWP this morning. They told me that they have made a note of this on my file. So that the Case Manager should take all the new evidence I submitted into account when reaching their decision. I'm guessing based on wildlife's experience, it will then be given back to the same, or hopefully a new HCP to look over again, taking into account my diagnosed condition. If they refuse to take my diagnosis into account a second time. I hope that I will be able to get my case reviewed again, until they eventually do take into account. Of course though, I understand that the diagnosis itself doesn't get you the award. You need to explain how your condition affects your daily living and mobility, using real life examples. Which I have done, in abundance.

    I think if I hadn't of know about the ability to get new reviews. If the HCP and DWP had ignored my diagnosis for a second time. I'd have just given up and waited 6-9 months to reach a Tribunal, in an attempt to win it back there. However, now, I think I'm going to keep asking for reviews, until they take it into consideration. Hopefully I won't have to. And they'll realise it was a bad mistake on their part to ignore it the first time. I say ignore, because they've my diagnosis report since my initial claim back in 2013. So there's no excuse for them not to take it into consideration.
  • wildlife
    wildlife Member Posts: 1,308 Pioneering
    @Fight4Justice Yes you have understood what I've been saying but I must stress there's no guarantee any of this will work and that, at some point, the DWP will say no they won't look at it again that Appeal is your only option. I've also read this as advice given on Scope so many times since my own experience. Because we're dealing with human lives with all the complexities and different personalities and conditions it's impossible to make rules that suit everyone and DWP do a lot of rule bending themselves. Another useful negotiating tool is the affect an incorrect award has on your health and how much worse going to Appeal would be. I couldn't handle it and told DWP that. They are human after all but you can't tell that from the written word only when you speak to them. 
     Anyhow It sounds like you're on the right track and hopefully your MR will be successful
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Posts: 8,847 Connected
    Let’s be clear.

    1) The power to review at any point when there are grounds made out has always existed. DWP reviews post MR and pre tribunal do happen but the numbers are literally negligible so it’s an awful lot of energy poured into nothing for the overwhelming majority of people. Let me put that in perspective for you. The numbers I’ve had turned over post MR since 2013 remain in single figures... and I do this full-time.

    In the overwhelming majority of cases it will not happen and the effort required to make it happen would usually be less than just going to appeal. So, yes, by all means let people know this provision has always existed but in reality letting people believe this is a realistic option would largely be deceiving them. As with a lot of things on web forums people always believe either that they’re the exception or that their experience means abyine can abd should do it. Largely, neither are true.

    2) @wildlife were your phone calls directly to the person making the decision on your case?
  • maid08
    maid08 Member Posts: 307 Connected
    when at the start of my claim i was refused on my mr i stated very clearly that lies were told i had also dug into you cannot sue dwp but you can aceser and decision maker or in other words the person named on award or none award ??i demanded to speak the decision maker and was refused so i kept demanding and pointed out i would sue her ?? the following day i recaived a call from her yes the decision maker in my case ?we had a discussion and i told her the prob being is you can be sued because you sighn for a load of lies depriveing me of benifits  she stated she would look into it again ??on the sat morning she rung me told me my claim had been set at lower on both  which i was not happy about but took as it was a hard slog and still suffering from my stroke was not going to make myself further unwell ??but that claim then affected my review which i would not sit back and acept hence my fight and court papers

  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Posts: 8,847 Connected
    And your point is...?

    A few anecdotes on here are just that A few anecdotes. The bigger picture is that this approach overwhelmingly does not work and is potentially deterimental. I’ve had more clients ring up and lose what they had then I’ve ever had gain something. 

    You can’t possibly sue a decision maker at all so effectively all we’re talking about is a false threat. The fact it produced some kind of outcome is fine but, as I’ve already observed, whilst I understand the frustrations with the process, every conversation with a decision maker produces a decision maker not making decisions on other cases so it would then be hypocritical for people to bang on about quality and lack of time when they are in part contributing to that. 
  • wildlife
    wildlife Member Posts: 1,308 Pioneering
    @mikehughescq If at anytime I've given the impression it's a realistic option to have more reviews after the MR I apologise but have never intentionally done so. Simply asking for another review requires very little effort far less than going to appeal. All I'm saying is that it is possible and worth trying for the following reasons:
    Going to tribunal causes more work, more stress and a lot more time than trying to bring about an acceptable result much earlier.
    It's logical that if DWP themselves make the decision rather than a Tribunal panel they're more likely not to change it or to reduce it at your next review unless there is evidence to do so. 
    I know very few people do this and even fewer succeed but if those numbers increased DWP might make more effort to get it right before it gets to that stage.  
        My phone calls were with different Case Workers. At no time did I get the impression they didn't want to speak to me rather the opposite. They were willing to discuss my claim in a way that is not possible by letter alone. Like I said I accept the time factor and their unwillingness to talk to claimants but while ever so many claimants are unhappy about the way their claims are being handled just sitting back and accepting any outcome even though it's unfair and based on the wrong data is not an option for most people. The benefit advocates (not sure of the correct name) will usually be in better health than claimants and may have difficulty understanding the stress it causes by claims going on so long. I do. So any other way of preventing that no matter how slim the chances of success is worth knowing about even if only one person is helped. I know you have agreed with this. 
       In saying all this I get the impression from other posts  that DWP's attitude to calls being made to claimants has changed since last year and they are clamping down due to pressure of work. But who's causing the huge work load? So why should we have to think twice about trying to speak to a Case Manager. 
      
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Posts: 8,847 Connected
    The initial idea behind MRs was that you could have a conversation. However, DWP are pretty poor at basic maths and it was never going to fly for too long. They backed off rapidly once the delays piled up and of course that left one group of claimants wanting to know why their friends could speak but now not them and one group saying “… but last time”. 

    Up until the last but one election DMs were falling over themselves to award points where they could specifically to avoid appeals but to gain votes they moved decision makers and quality checkers over to UC and that pretty much ended decent decision making at MR level for both ESA and PIP. 

    The fact you spoke to various case managers does illustrate my point. If you force the issue you may get a case manager but it won’t be the one who decides your case. All they’re doing is gathering information and clarifying. Realistically anyone could do that. 

    If you want to really force the hand of DWP in terms of the quality of decision making then getting an MR decision isn’t the way. Officially it just gets recorded as an MR where receipt of further information produced a different decision. A bit like they persist with the nonsense that tribunals issue different decisions because they too get new info. It’s nonsense. If on the other hand you lodge a formal complaint in writing then it gets recorded as that and, if a different decision is produced in consequence, it’s noted that it was because of the complaint. If more people did that the evidence of poor decision making would be clear and irrefutable.

    There are lots of names for us but go with “welfs” :)

    The assumption that most of us have no experience of impairment is a huge leap and largely incorrect. The overwhelming majority of people I’ve known over the past 32 years have both direct and indirect experience. I can bore you to death about my being dual sensory with a stomach/breathing issue and a degenerative spinal issue. Part of our role is absolutely to minimise any delays and stress so it’s immensely frustrating when people repeatedly think they’ve found some amazing shortcut that we couldn’t possibly have thought of or entertained. Most people don’t realise they’re actually taking actions to maximise their stress. 

    Not having a go at you there. I’m talking more generally.
  • Chelseagirl
    Chelseagirl Member Posts: 14 Listener
    I was told by DWP that Atos lost contract months ago ' lying bleeders' and it is now MAXIMUS
    TALK NICELY TO YOU SAY OH IM SORRY TO HEAR THAT AND WRITE ON REPORT OH NOTHING WRONG WITH THEM!!!!
  • Chelseagirl
    Chelseagirl Member Posts: 14 Listener
    Bib brother state
    they hold all info on you not just mandatory!!!

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