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PIP: phone call from DWP before tribunal

amandadvamandadv Member Posts: 2 Listener
Hi everyone, this morning I had a horrible experience and wondered if anyone else has experienced the same thing. For those who don't want the long story, here are my questions:
- Has anyone had a call from the DWP after lodging their PIP appeal, asking to 'clarify some details'?
- Are they allowed to call you out of the blue like that?
- Am I obliged to talk to them?
- If you received a call like that, what was the outcome? Did they make you a new offer? Did they use it against you at appeal? I strongly suspect the purpose of the call was to get me to say something that would undermine my appeal.

Here's the long version:
I am appealing my PIP decision. I've been through mandatory reconsideration, which upheld the original decision, and have lodged my appeal with the tribunal service. This morning, out of the blue, I received a phone call from the DWP.  The assessor I spoke to said he wanted to clarify some details of my claim for the appeal. I was surprised as I didn't know that was part of the process. He didn't present talking to him as a choice, otherwise I would have said no as I find speaking on the phone very fatiguing and wasn't prepared for the call.  But, like most of us, I want to be as helpful as possible in order to finally get the right decision and I was worried that not talking to them would count against me.

He then proceeded to ask me questions in a way that felt like an interrogation. It's quite hard to put into words, but the tone and emphasis of his questions were incredibly sceptical, dismissive and confrontational.  He started off by saying he had my ESA report  from last year in front of him and that I was saying things quite different to my PIP claim (not true). He then asked, with a disbelieving tone, whether I thought I'd got a lot worse since then. He said they'd scored me points for the cooking and washing indicators but wanted to ask about dressing. I told him they hadn't scored me the right number of points for those indicators. His response was to ask me to say what difficulties I have with them. I pointed out I've outlined that, in detail, three times in writing: in my initial application, my mandatory reconsideration and my appeal. I said I wasn't prepared to go through everything but if they had specific questions then to ask them. He then started saying they wanted to ask about dressing because if I have difficulties with cooking and bathing because of fatigue, he was surprised I haven't said I have problems with dressing! When talking about cooking he said I was contradicting myself because I say I can sometimes cook but have ticked 'I cant' prepare a meal' and explained this is because I cannot do it reliably, repeatedly and in a reasonable timeframe, in line with their own guidance. He patronisingly said it's about what I can do the majority of the time. I pointed out I have said I *might* be able to cook on a maximum of two days per week, as detailed in the health assessors report. He then asked me, very aggressively, "Well do you have a microwave? Can you not use a microwave to cook, then?". 

At this point I lost it. I managed to explain fairly calmly why it doesn't make a difference if it's an oven or a microwave. If I'm too fatigued to cook I can't use either. I then got angry and said that, yes, I've got a bloody microwave but it doesn't mean I can use it to cook. He said, without any kind of empathy or compassion, rather in an aggressive tone, that I was clearly finding this difficult to talk about so did I want to end the call.  I told him I was finding him very confrontational and that he wasn't asking questions in a neutral way. He wouldn't let me finish and started talking over me saying that was absolutely untrue and that they need to clarify details. I tried again, saying that the way he was asking the questions was making the conversation difficult and that he sounded as though he had already made his mind up about the answers before listening to me. He aggressively said, "well what do you what to do then, end the call?". I said I wanted to speak to his manager and he said she wasn't there but she would call me back this afternoon.

I put the phone down and literally collapsed in a sobbing heap. I have cried like that only twice before in my life. I felt so shaken, so rattled. It's really hard to convey exactly what was so bad. It wasn't necessarily what he asked, but the way he asked it. I felt so attacked and demeaned. After I had calmed down I began to wonder why they need to 'clarify details' when the decision now lies with the tribunal. I suspect they were trying to catch me out or trick me into saying something that would undermine my appeal. I was so distraught afterwards that I called my husband who was worried enough to leave work and come home early. I'm a pretty resilient person but something about this shook me to the core and has left me feeling very vulnerable, upset and angry.

Has anyone else had this experience?

Replies

  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    edited November 2019
    HI,

    Sometimes people do have phone calls from a DWP decision maker after a Tribunal has been requested but it's rare they do this. The reason could be that they maybe deciding whether to award you more points for an award, or a higher award if you've already got an award in payment.
    Requesting a Tribunal certainly doesn't mean you're not supposed to talk to DWP. A Tribunal is not a court.

    Whether or not you'll successfully be awarded those 8 points for not being able to prepare a meal at all will totally depend on how your conditions affect you.

    What they will look at is does the claimant need to use/rely upon an aid or appliance to complete the activity? If they use an aid or appliance which it would be reasonable to expect them to use, could they then complete the activity reliably without assistance from another person? If so, then descriptor B would apply.

    If the answer is no then consideration should be given to whether the claimant must rely on prompting, supervision or assistance in order to complete the activity, in which case an alternative descriptor may be more appropriate.

    Where a claimant chooses not to use an aid or appliance which he or she could reasonably be expected to use and which would enable them to carry out the activity without prompting, supervision or assistance, descriptor B will be appropriate, they should not be awarded a higher descriptor if using an aid or appliance would remove the need for prompting, supervision or assistance.



    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.
  • pollyanna1052pollyanna1052 Member Posts: 2,032 Disability Gamechanger
    I haven't read your full post, but I spotted something about points for cooking....

    at my face to face, I was asked if I can peel a potato......nothing else about cooking and I said no.......because I cannot reach the kitchen units, fridge or cooker.

    I did get the full sward for PIP, but there were 2 things which aren`t correct.
    1. I can cook a meal with assistance.......

    2. I can plan and follow a route unaided.......I cant go out alone.

    I`ve not disputed them as my award is good.
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    When considering whether a claimant should be assessed as needing to use an aid or appliance, the HP should apply the following approach for most descriptors:
    • can the claimant carry out the activity reliably (that is, safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly and in a reasonable time period) and independently, or with the use of a commonly used device? If so, then descriptor A would usually apply

    • does the claimant need to use/rely upon an aid or appliance to complete the activity? If they use an aid or appliance which it would be reasonable to expect them to use e.g. a Zimmer frame when walking, could they then complete the activity reliably without assistance from another person? If so, then descriptor B would apply

    • if the answer to both the above questions is no, then consideration should be given to whether the claimant must rely on prompting, supervision or assistance in order to complete the activity, in which case an alternative descriptor may be more appropriate.

    • In your case they have decided that you need assistance to be able to prepare a meal.
    Scoring points for for following an planning a journey will depend on how your conditions affect you. Even though you have Enhanced for both, it doesn't make any difference to you, i just thought i'd point this out. Hope it helps you to understand the preparing a meal activity better.


    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.
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,606 Disability Gamechanger
    Can they call? Yes. A case can be looked at again at any limit and if it saves all concerned an appeal hearing then why not. 

    Are you obliged? No. I’d be reluctant to condemn the line of questioning because precision is everything and their training and knowledge isn’t great to begin with so sometimes they see issues which aren’t there and sometimes so do claimants. It’s actually incredibly hard to interview anyone neutrally and get the answers you need to inform an accurate decision.

    Outcomes vary hugely. 
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