PIP, DLA and AA
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PIP process for anxiety and depression - my findings

JazCoJazCo Member Posts: 48 Courageous
Hey everyone,

I had my interview a few weeks ago and I wanted to tell you all what I found so it may help some of you with one coming up - bare in mind this is an application based solely on social anxiety/agoraphobia and depression.

My first tip: Do not prepare. I suppose reading this is preparing. But the more prepared you are, the calmer you will come across. This goes against you if in normal circumstances you're not.

The second tip: If you struggle to do things like find the motivation to wash, dress, groom etc then even if you are having a good day then, don't. Despite the fact that I told them, my partner, physically helps me by getting my clothes ready, washing them, cooks my meals, gets the shower/bath ready and walks me to it (all emotional and psychological support during depressive turns), meaning that if I am washed, groomed, cleaned etc you would think it would be obvious that, that is because my partner has helped me in the very way I described him doing so. No. My appearance being normal gave them the conclusion that this means I must not have depression. I must not need prompting or support.

Third tip: If you cry, don't force yourself to stop. Take your time. I was getting asked questions despite crying and because I wanted to get it over and done with I forced myself to stop to answer (my partner answered as much as he could) - this was reported as got tearful but composed herself quickly. Again this apparently means I am not depressed.

Tip four: Don't smile. Not even a tiny bit. These people don't understand that even with anxiety and depression, you CAN smile. Morons really. And even on bad days you CAN still smile. But they don't even bother to take into account your report of fluctuations and how that could be the reason you aren't an absolute mess on the floor unable to even get a sentence out.


Now here is some information on the MSE (Mental State Examination) that they use to justify giving you 0 points by saying you don't present with above conditions. The MSE is used by therapists and other mental health professionals to determine, in an ONGOING process, the extent of which you may be suffering from depression, anxiety etc. It is not an exact science and it is not designed to undercut a patients own testimony of their condition, as the way someone presents themself on the outside is not an indication of the way they are in the privacy of their own home. It's a huge flaw in the method of evaluation, but my guess is that they train regular nurses in how to "conduct" this exam, in order to be able to say they are mental health trained.

In every section I was awarded 0 points because the MSE determined that I was clean and I didn't smell, I was not malnourished, I was dressed in clean clothes, my hair was styled (it was just down, nothing special), my nails where clean, I smiled and laughed and I was not showing any signs of physical tremors, therefore I do not have anxiety or depression.

I was clean because my partner helped me get clean as we were going out with his parents and out in public and new I would feel horrible inside if I didn't manage it, my clothes are clean because he does the washing, he got them ready for me, I am not malnourished because, as explained very clearly, my partner cooks all food for me, plus I just gave birth 2 months prior, which they knew, so I'm not going to look malnourished, I did not laugh and at most I smirked when my partner talked about how he actually looks after the cats and I enjoy the cuddling and finally, my form of panic attack is not tremors. I get heart palpitations, feel dizzy, my body heats up, all invisible symptoms. If you are suffering from symptoms not obvious, let them know. Tell them outright if you can feel your heart beat in your throat and that is how your anxiety manifests.

Also, side note: You are absolutely entitled to see what they have written whilst you are there. Atos booklet stated this. They will try and fob you off and say they have never seen this before, this does not matter. It is their company policy. It is their duty to know it. If they don't, that isn't your fault. They will tell you they have just written what you have said, but this isn't true, they miss a lot of out and add a lot in about what they "observe", which is why they don't want to show you. But stand your ground, tell them you know it is your right (get your support to say this if they are with you as you fighting your argument will likely go against you even if you have low-key panic attack when you do like I did, they conveniently miss this information off the report). I have this confirmed with a CAB advisor.

I am going through appeal of course, I will keep you updated on the progress so you can see how badly the interview could go, but how it may go when you take it further. I'm working with CAB to draft a letter for MR and a complaint letter to ATOS - they say it is well worth doing if only to show the CM that you are serious with your complaints to them. If your local MP is Labour or Lib Dem, write to them, you can if they are conservative also of course, but it is their party instilling these restrictions, so apparently in people's experiences, very little comes of it.

Hope this is helpful in any way. Just to make clear, this is not me advising how to con the system, this is my experience of how they have lied and taken the information I have given them and ignored it to meet their own agenda. One lie told which is obvious on the report is they said I was not engaging in mental health services, yet also included that I gave them a letter from a mental health service to my GP about my involvement with them. I just wanted to point them out for others, because I have barely slept since and have completely spiraled since. The only solace I have has been since talking to the CAB advisor who gave me some hope into the next steps and the help they offer.

If any of you have ANY questions, I am happy to answer what I can.

Replies

  • angel137angel137 Member Posts: 51 Courageous
    Thanks for sharing Jaz.
    Sorry you are going through this, like many others. The very best of luck at appeal stage. :)
  • Wendy1962Wendy1962 Member Posts: 20 Connected
    Hi I've had major surgery for breast cancer twice I'm suffering terrible depression i see a phycitrics for my depression and suicidal thoughts by crashing my car I'm incontinent after my operation in had a catheta in 4 3 weeks I don't socialis any more because I'm paranoid in case I smell I was awarded low rate pip for 2 year's I've had it all year now and I got another form to be accessed again I've waited 8 weeks up to now still not heard anything x
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    edited September 2018
    Hi, @JazCo

    Some of what you stated above i don't agree with, sorry. When going to a face 2 face assessment if you normally dress nice, cleaned , washed, make, etc then that's how you should attend your assessment. If you don't usually do any of these things then that's how you should attend. Why put on a front?? If you appear any different to how you usually are then that's fraud.

    I've attended multiple face 2 face assessments for ESA and PIP and have never been any different to how i always am. The evidence i sent with all my claim forms proved all the difficulties.

    Lots of people claim PIP successfully first time but we don't hear their stories. If they have a decision they're happy with they have no questions to ask, therefore we don't hear their story. Good luck with the MR and Tribunal, if you get that far.
    Community champion and proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice i have given to members here on the community.
  • Wendy1962Wendy1962 Member Posts: 20 Connected
    What is it you don't agree with it had breast cancer so I had a home visit. 
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    edited September 2018

    Community champion and proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice i have given to members here on the community.
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    @Wendy1962, I never said i disagreed with anything you stated. When i was writing my comment, no other person had commented.
    Community champion and proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice i have given to members here on the community.
  • JazCoJazCo Member Posts: 48 Courageous
    @poppy123456 You've not read what I said properly. On a daily basis, I have trouble dressing, washing, grooming etc due to depression. I don't really go out and it is a battle for my partner to get my to do these things regularly. That day, he really pushed me to do them, despite not feeling able to for many hours before. This I think was a mistake, as this is not how I am usually. If she had been a fly on the wall the whole week before or after that day, it would have been completely different. What I had a problem with, is me turning up washed, dressed in clean clothes and my hair not a total mess etc was an indication to her that I have no issues in these sections - despite saying how if I manage to do these things, usually once a week at most, it requires a lot of hard work from my partner.

    Thats why I said, do not make any special effort to do more than you usually do, like I did, as they will not take in what you say about the aids and support you have to do them, just that you have done it, on that one particular day.
  • debbiedo49debbiedo49 Member Posts: 2,906 Disability Gamechanger
    @JazCo I understand your points but I don’t necessarily agree. I feel just like you do and that’s why i carried on to tribunal. There you will win if you have all the evidence to meet the criteria. If you are lucky. We put on armour some of us to help get through really difficult situations. Sometimes that’s not a good thing as it can come across as doing better than we are. For me I couldn’t get over the door without armour. So it’s a catch 22.
    💜🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿
    I am a fibro warrior !💜♏️
  • Wendy1962Wendy1962 Member Posts: 20 Connected
    Thank you i understand now I will just have to wait and see what happens it's the waiting I've waited 2 months now and not heard anything yet. 
  • JazCoJazCo Member Posts: 48 Courageous
    @JazCo I understand your points but I don’t necessarily agree. I feel just like you do and that’s why i carried on to tribunal. There you will win if you have all the evidence to meet the criteria. If you are lucky. We put on armour some of us to help get through really difficult situations. Sometimes that’s not a good thing as it can come across as doing better than we are. For me I couldn’t get over the door without armour. So it’s a catch 22.
    I'm completely with you, that was kind of my point for others though, that if in the privacy of their own home they don't manage these things, then to force a state that is unnatural only comes across like you can regularly do this, which isn't the case. When we put on brave faces and make ourselves look presentable when we are forced to go out and be around other people, it's to hide how we really struggle with these things on a daily basis. That putting on makeup and doing your hair is exhausting but we do it when we have to so no one knows how we feel.

    Its really a horrible circle isn't it :(

    My advice was just to nit put on that armour if you don't usually, because even if you explained it to them, they honestly wouldn't care. They are trained in ONE mental health examination technique, that is designed to be used continually and that is it. Their knowledge/education on mental health stops there.
  • Wendy1962Wendy1962 Member Posts: 20 Connected
    Very true my daughter encourages me every day I couldn't go through life with out her since I had radiotherapy it's knocked me for six sometimes I wished I wasn't here any more 
  • debbiedo49debbiedo49 Member Posts: 2,906 Disability Gamechanger
    My son is my rock. I stopped him from coming to tribunal with me as he attended failed esa tribunal a couple of years ago and he was gutted. 
    💜🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿
    I am a fibro warrior !💜♏️
  • debbiedo49debbiedo49 Member Posts: 2,906 Disability Gamechanger
    I got points for the descriptors I gave the fullest most accurate information on where I was staying I absolutely need help with this or I absolutely cannot do this. My problem is I can verbalise very well sometimes and this can come across as being competent and not needing help. So I’ve learned to clearly verbalise what I cannot do or need help with according to my claim. However, I run out of steam very quickly under duress and this is duress. I get thrown by the way the ask the same thing in different ways to trip you up and when I start to stumble I lose my nerve and I lose my words. Having a Wro with me is an absolute necessity. However, I still could have done better on my award due to anxiety. 
    💜🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿
    I am a fibro warrior !💜♏️
  • Wendy1962Wendy1962 Member Posts: 20 Connected
    It's terrible some of the sad stories I've heard it I'm dreading repeating every thing I've been through cancer etc I'm under a phycitrics for my mental health I'm being tested for bipolar disorder. I dread every morning when the postman comes .
  • JazCoJazCo Member Posts: 48 Courageous
    @Wendy1962
    Its a horrible system isn't it! Very degrading.

    @debbiedo49
    I'm the same. I'm university educated and actually study mental health law and have worked in charities that assist mentally and physically disabled people in the past. But I do have dyslexia and a ton of help with my studies (which was conveniently left out) - but she used the fact that I can articulate myself well, have a good understanding of my condition and was able to talk to her against me, despite the fact that I had about 12 pages of information to help me remember and concentrate, my partner who took over when I forgot something or struggled and ignored the fact that most of my symptoms are completely internal and I'm well trained in masking what is going on inside.
    It was a 30 minute interview in the end, not very long. I concentrated on the information I had gone over in my head a million times so I didn't leave anything out, and it went against me. Ironically, if I didn't have anxiety, I wouldn't have spent so much time going over it, over and over and may have stumbled more than I did. When I went the CAB before I even applied and was asked about my condition, I could barely speak.
    It's sad how ill-informed they are about how mental health effects people in an insurmountable variety of way.
  • Wendy1962Wendy1962 Member Posts: 20 Connected
    How long did you wait for your reply to your claim it was awarded pip for 2 year's they sent me a renewal claims form it's been over 8 weeks now and not heard anything it's stressing me out 
  • debbiedo49debbiedo49 Member Posts: 2,906 Disability Gamechanger
    @Wendy1962 on here we call it brown envelope syndrome
    💜🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿
    I am a fibro warrior !💜♏️
  • Wendy1962Wendy1962 Member Posts: 20 Connected
  • debbiedo49debbiedo49 Member Posts: 2,906 Disability Gamechanger
    Its a joke thing we dread the postman posting through dwp letters etc, trying to make light of something that causes anxiety. Type it in the search theres a thread if you want.
    💜🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿
    I am a fibro warrior !💜♏️
  • Wendy1962Wendy1962 Member Posts: 20 Connected
    Thank you for that information I'm under a mental health team at the moment they think I've got bipolar disorder it got worse after being diagnosed with breast cancer twice and after that I got skin cancer it's went back to work but not coping well 
  • angel137angel137 Member Posts: 51 Courageous
    @Wendy1962
    It depends on where you live how long you will have to wait to hear about whether you will need a face-to-face assessment. Once you've had one, you normally hear about the f2f/decision within 4 weeks or so. You may not need one. 
    After I put in my application, I waited 5 months before I heard about a f2f. It just depends on where you live. 
    Please try not to put extra pressure on yourself during this time. Your health is what matters. As you have other important things to focus on, regarding your health, just get on with that. Don't "wait" for anything. Spend your time taking care of yourself. If you have a f2f, bring someone with you.
    Take care.  o:)
  • JulestheBatJulestheBat Member Posts: 16 Connected
    PIP and ESA assesments are so bloody intrusive and degrading. 
    If a GP or Consultant says your sick then your sick. The governments wasting its money with all these assessments and admin. 
    Good luck to everyone 🍀 I hope it all works out 
    " If in doubt, Freak em out" - Sharon Needles 
  • Wendy1962Wendy1962 Member Posts: 20 Connected
    What a lovely reply it's so nice of you I've had to force myself to go back to work I'm not coping very well I've also just had cancer removed from my back still gothe stitches in its very uncomfortable but worried incase I don't get my pip after the assignment 
  • angel137angel137 Member Posts: 51 Courageous
    @Wendy1962
    It's great you've been able to go back to work, but if you really feel that it's harming your health, maybe you can go part-time?
    As for PIP and other benefits, just think of it as a process. It does  take some months from the beginning to the end of the process, sometimes longer, but eventually things get sorted out. It can be tiring, mentally and physically.
    Focus on your day to day life for now.
    The very best wishes for your recovery and health. 
  • DontworrybehappyDontworrybehappy Member Posts: 4 Listener
    I'm so sorry you have had trouble with pip and Esa. I have physical and mental health problems. 1st doctor nearly ran out of my home, and the 2nd came in, looked at me and said you really aren't well. So although I'd rather enjoy life, I was lucky to pass my assessments. I was who I am everyday. Hope you hear soon. X
  • Mumof2dsMumof2ds Member Posts: 148 Pioneering
    Hello everyone. 

    @JazCo

    I've just got my date through for Assessment F2F on 21/9/18 in Ashford. 

    I have balance and hearing issues - Menieres Disease and auto immune Vestibular Neuritis, as well as Anxiety and Depression linked to that.

    I wish you every success in your quest!. XX 

    @Wendy1962 I'm so sorry to hear about your cancer ordeal. We are all here to support you. X 
    P X 
    Politeness costs nothing, but goes a long way in life. 
     Always look out for each other. Be kind. 
     Hugs and smiles mean the world. XX 
  • Wendy1962Wendy1962 Member Posts: 20 Connected
    Thank you every one for your lovely messages in live on my own and feel I've got no one to turn to joining this group is so nice x
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