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Tribunal system is a failure

FireWalkerUK Member Posts: 4 Listener
edited August 2019 in PIP, DLA, and AA
Hello to everyone, This is my first post on scope and I want to share our story so that it might help others or at the very least provide information.
This will be quite a long post so please forgive me I go on too long but I am trying to provide as much information as possible
 My wife had to transition from DLA to PIP in June of 2018. Her assessment for PIP was the first week of September the same year and this, like many of you, is where her problems started.
My wife has suffered from a catalog of social phobias including but not constrained to Depression, Anxiety, OCD and Agoraphobia. She has been on antidepressants, or one type or another, for over 30 years and has received therapy over form many sources, all this has been documented in her medical notes.
Like many of you, my wife has worked on occasion but the stress caused her so much trauma that her GP eventually signed her off and she applied for ESA and was placed in the support group.
Anyway, we elected to go to a CAPITA office for her assessment as she could not take the stress of having someone in her home, one of her social phobias. I contacted CAPITA ahead of the assessment and asked if there was a room available for my wife to wait in away from the general waiting area as my wife does not do well in social situations. I was advised that there would be such a facility but upon arriving found this to be untrue and that my wife would have to wait in a corridor along with the other poor souls awaiting their assessment. Additionally, I was informed that there was a disabled parking spot available and by chance, it happened to be free but as there is only one I was unable to reserve it.
When my wife was called a lady approached her and asked her to follow her and took off at quite a trot even though she saw that I required the use of a walking aid.
The assessment started with her introducing herself and explaining the process but only 8 or 9 minutes in my wife became too distressed to respond due to the way in which the assessor treated her, badgering her and making her answer each question multiple time as if my wife was being deceitful, which she wasn't. The assessor asked me to fetch a cup of water from a dispenser in the corridor which I did only to return to find my wife in floods of tears and shaking, at this point my wife was totally unresponsive and I can only imagine that the assessor had continued questioning her when I was out of the room.
The assessor stated that she could terminate the assessment but I got the strong impression that this would be playing into her hands. It was at this point that the assessor made the statement "You don't have to claim PIP you know it is only a benefit.". Now incensed I demanded the assessment continue and offered the assessor supporting documentation I had with me which detailed my wife's medication and outlined other referrals for therapy. The Assessor didn't even glance at these records before dismissively sliding them back across the table to me.
After 40 mins of to and fro the assessment came to an end and we were, for want of a better word, dismissed.
I knew from that assessment that we would be lucky to get any PIP but when the report arrived my wife had scored 0 (zero) points in any category and that the assessor stated that my wife had been only MILDLY UPSET and had been responsive and coherent throughout the assessment.
We applied for an MR (Mandatory Reconsideration) only to be told that our local office DofC, the equivalent of the English DWP, referred all cases back to CAPITA for reassessment as they do not have qualified staff available to make a determination. The MR of course failed.
During the course of the MR we discovered that the lady who made the initial assessment was qualified as a Mid-Wife and not as a mental health professional as she has purported to be.
With no other avenue left open to my wife, we applied for a tribunal which was heard in July of this year. To say that the tribunal was a repeat of the CAPITA assessment would be an understatement. This time however we had additional documentation from a GDPR request which further supported my wife's case and even entitled her to high rate mobility. All this evidence made little difference and she got 4 point total in the Daily Living section and 3 in the mobility section despite being unable to leave home unaccompanied at any time due to anxiety and require me her carer to stop her from harming herself or starving to death due to depression,
All in all the system has left someone dealing with mental illness financially impoverished and at the fear of losing her ESA. I am now afraid to leave her alone for even a moment and the stress is causing our relationship to fracture.
Thank you very much kind and compassionate CAPITA.


  • pollyanna1052
    pollyanna1052 Member Posts: 2,032 Disability Gamechanger
    Phew!! What a terrible ordeal you and your wife have been through.

    I keep reading these horror stories. I`m afraid I have no advice, but just support and understanding for you both.
  • Chrisaberdeen
    Chrisaberdeen Member Posts: 1 Listener
    Hi  I am sorry to read this, but much is very familiar to me as a benefits advisor. 

    My suggestion would be to reapply for PIP if you feel you meet the criteria. Get advice from your local CAB to see if they feel you score enough points. Then reapply for PIP and get help to complete the form from an Advice Centre.

    I have represented clients at hundreds of Tribunals and do believe that clients get a fair hearing. I don't see the Tribunal system as a failure as per your heading. 

    Having attended medical assessments I do have far more negative views on these and can relate to your wife's experience.

    Good Luck in getting what you are entitled to.

  • michfinch
    michfinch Member Posts: 173 Pioneering
    So upsetting for you and your Wife.... Very similar to my situation. How can a Nurse Practitioner understand Epilepsy☹️ and overrule my Specialist, who has written a detailed 2 page letter and my Dr who asks to see me every 2 weeks and sends in a 28 day Fit Note? I had a “supposed” Senior Employee of my local Job Centre call me this morning and I became very upset. My brain doesn’t function like it used to and I’m not as quick with my responses. TBH I had none of my paperwork to hand when she called and she had me up against a wall firing questions at me. When I called my local Job Centre they knew nothing about it. I hate getting my mountains of paperwork out as I get in a tizz and a muddle. My sincere hopes that your Wife will receive the support she needs.
  • michfinch
    michfinch Member Posts: 173 Pioneering
    NB I do now receive PIP but it’s taken a lot of fighting for!!!
  • Tobias
    Tobias Posts: 46 Courageous
    michfinch said:
    NB I do now receive PIP but it’s taken a lot of fighting for!!!
    My son has Autism(18yrs old) vacant seizures all his life and in the last year (Aug 8th 2018 ) Epilepsy...Came very close to not coming round on the 2nd Seizure May 9th this year...They always start in the night, so was bluntly told the truth of the matter..Theres a very real chance he could die.

    Fortunately for him bless him...i am a light sleeper due to my illnesses and Autism myself.And it was i that alerted my ex partner(his mother) to both his attacks..
    Im moving into a bungalow soon as his mother and i are separating after 19yrs together.Also have a daughter 16yrs old whom i wholeheartedly believe is Aspergers(waiting on appointment)
    So when i move i wont be at the family home able to be there for him...Thats a real struggle for me at the moment,mentally.

    Anyway...i say all of that to say this:> As soon as my son was fully diagnosed upon his second seizure .The neurologist wrote a confirmation note and PIPS didnt even ask to see my son ,nor come out to the home...He was awarded highest rate.

    I certainly know this is likely rare...but i sense where PIP cannot deny the obvious.they wont even try it too much!

    Thats not gospel ,but its so apparent with my son(he believes the value of a house is genuinely around £21... I wish it was!)

    Glad you got sorted!


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