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FairHairedFoodie
FairHairedFoodie Member Posts: 28 Courageous
Hello all. So glad to have found you.

I sent off my PIP claim form about three weeks ago and am--like everyone else does--freaking the heck out. I still have time to send in supporting evidence as I haven't received the F2F assessment letter (and don't really expect to anytime soon).
I have been diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder (clinical depression and bouts of hypomania), social anxiety disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder (specifically, Trichotillomania - I'm a hair puller).
As there's still time, can anyone else advise on what else I might send to strengthen my claim?

- Detailed claim form
- Letter from private (hired) carer with a diary of how she cares for me during the time she is with me, and what I am unable to do myself or unassisted
- Letter from husband stating what I am unable to do myself and bullet points with additional examples based on what he witnesses (using descriptors)
- Copy of my last NHS write-up describing symptoms of a heart attack that were actually an anxiety attack that required a two-night stay, as the ECG showed abnormalities as a result (I don't know if this is worth the paper it's printed on but included it anyway)
- List of the three medications I take, the side effects they give me, and a letter from (1) Community Mental Health that one required an 'exceptional need' authorization as it's higher than the NHS max, and (2) a letter from my GP that I am, indeed, prescribed all three.

Can you think of anything else? Is there such a thing as submitting too much?

I appreciate your help in (hopefully) taking me from a panic level of 8.5 down a couple of notches. I will also continue to report back on the entire process.
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Comments

  • cristobal
    cristobal Member Posts: 987 Disability Gamechanger
    edited January 2020
    @FairHairedFoodie - some posters recommend sending a lot of medical 'evidence.' I didn't personally...

    If you look through the form and the DWP guidance you will see what criteria they use.

    Look through these and then assess whether what you are thinking of sending actually adds anything?

    For example - 'preparing food' is about making a meal for one using fresh ingredients, using a hob, chopping etc. Does a few pages of scans/reports etc concluding that you have an arthritic knee support what you have to say about this? Probably not (unless the medic says 'is unable to stand for more than two minutes' etc)

    Do this for each activity.

    Personally if it doesn't say anything I leave it out - send unnecessary stuff means that the DWP/ assessor are spending time reading waffle when they could be reading good stuff. Less is more.

    Edit I also 'signposted' where to find stuff so, in the example above you might say "Dr Jones says I cannot stand for more than two minutes without resting", explain why this affects you cooking (you have to sit down) and then attach the letter at the end...
  • FairHairedFoodie
    FairHairedFoodie Member Posts: 28 Courageous
    cristobal said:
    @FairHairedFoodie - some posters recommend sending a lot of medical 'evidence.' I didn't personally...

    If you look through the form and the DWP guidance you will see what criteria they use.

    Look through these and then assess whether what you are thinking of sending actually adds anything?

    For example - 'preparing food' is about making a meal for one using fresh ingredients, using a hob, chopping etc. Does a few pages of scans/reports etc concluding that you have an arthritic knee support what you have to say about this? Probably not (unless the medic says 'is unable to stand for more than two minutes' etc)

    Do this for each activity.

    Personally if it doesn't say anything I leave it out - send unnecessary stuff means that the DWP/ assessor are spending time reading waffle when they could be reading good stuff..
    Thanks for the prompt response! My detailed claim form really lays into personal experience using the descriptors. For example (using the same food prep hypothetical), I have written that I am unable to cook for myself at all as I am a danger to myself and my neighbors, having twice had the fire brigade at the house after I absentmindedly left the gas running (at which point, my gas stove was completely disconnected), -and- that I am unable to use even a microwave as I destroyed it putting an entire, unopened tin of soup in there. It was not replaced based on the recommendation of my social worker.

    If the list of things I sent in appear to be enough (and based on the PIP evidence list it looks like it to me, I guess), then I'll leave it alone and just plow forward.
  • cristobal
    cristobal Member Posts: 987 Disability Gamechanger
    @FairHairedFoodie - sounds good.

    An obvious question is "how to you actually prepare food" if you've no cooker/ microwave - so prepare for that...
  • FairHairedFoodie
    FairHairedFoodie Member Posts: 28 Courageous
    cristobal said:
    @FairHairedFoodie - sounds good.

    An obvious question is "how to you actually prepare food" if you've no cooker/ microwave - so prepare for that...
    Thank you so much for this. The letter from my husband and private carer both state that I am 100% takeaway, and only the carer or my husband opens the door to collect, or they are advised to leave it at the doorstep and knock (due to social anxiety). No doubt the assessor will ask anyway.

    There's no question I need to have all of these possibilities in notes.

    I read somewhere that you can actually ask the assessor to read back what they have written and repeat what they have understood you to say. I'll have to find the advocacy link that says that...unless you know it to be true? Or false?
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 24,728 Disability Gamechanger
    HI,

    Is there any reason why you didn't send the evidence at the same time as the form? Although there's no timescales for assessments, some people have them very quickly after returning the form and others wait months. I certainly wouldn't have help back from sending the evidence.
  • FairHairedFoodie
    FairHairedFoodie Member Posts: 28 Courageous
    edited January 2020
    HI,

    Is there any reason why you didn't send the evidence at the same time as the form? Although there's no timescales for assessments, some people have them very quickly after returning the form and others wait months. I certainly wouldn't have help back from sending the evidence.
    @poppy123456 I sent everything with the original claim form that I listed. I can see now how the post might have been confusing with that.

    I was hoping for feedback on anything additional that I may have forgotten, or that might be recommended.
  • cristobal
    cristobal Member Posts: 987 Disability Gamechanger
    I read somewhere that you can actually ask the assessor to read back what they have written and repeat what they have understood you to say. I'll have to find the advocacy link that says that...unless you know it to be true? Or false?

    @FairHairedFoodie - I can only speak about my assessment.

    Totally false - but mainly because she'd written something completely different to what I'd said, and several things that I didn't say!

    Only my experience - I know others have had a much more positive one...
  • FairHairedFoodie
    FairHairedFoodie Member Posts: 28 Courageous
    cristobal said:
    I read somewhere that you can actually ask the assessor to read back what they have written and repeat what they have understood you to say. I'll have to find the advocacy link that says that...unless you know it to be true? Or false?

    @FairHairedFoodie - I can only speak about my assessment.

    Totally false - but mainly because she'd written something completely different to what I'd said, and several things that I didn't say!

    Only my experience - I know others have had a much more positive one...
    So far, I found this under "Interview Skills", section 1.6.8, in the PIP Assessment Guide for Providers (written by the government:

    "The claimant and any companion should feel fully involved in the process and feel that the consultation is a genuine two-way process. Summarising back to the claimant what has been said is useful to show active listening and to ensure that key pieces of information have been correctly heard."

    If they are recommended to repeat back what we have said, I'm thinking we can ask them if they do not? I don't know. I'm grasping here to avoid a ridiculously low score even with everything I give them.
  • FairHairedFoodie
    FairHairedFoodie Member Posts: 28 Courageous
    cristobal said:
    I can only speak about my assessment.

    Totally false - but mainly because she'd written something completely different to what I'd said, and several things that I didn't say!

    Only my experience - I know others have had a much more positive one...
     I also found this in the same guide:

    Concluding the face-to-face consultation
    1.6.46 Prior to concluding face-to-face consultations, HPs should give claimants an overview of the findings they have taken from the consultation, including an indication of the fluctuation and variability of function they have recorded. Claimants should be invited to clarify any points and ask any questions they have about the assessment procedure, and asked whether there is anything else they would like to include. The HP should always attempt to respond to any issues or concerns they express.
  • cristobal
    cristobal Member Posts: 987 Disability Gamechanger
    edited January 2020
    @FairHairedFoodie - I'm not sure whether this will help you but ...

    I'm confident that the majority of assessments are done properly and accurately.

    Mine wasn't one - I recorded it so that I know categorically that most of the procedure was ignored; poor technique, wrongly recording answers, constantly 'summarising' what I'd said wrongly, making assumptions that were wrong, carrying out examination without consent.

    My advice - be aware that overwhelming majority of them are done properly - but also that a minority are not.

    If I was having another assessment I'd do this:-

    If information is summarised wrongly then pull the assessor up. Every time. Mine was keen to write 'a couple of days a week' when i said "most of the time', 'all of the time', 'nearly every day'

    Same with leading questions.

    Same with assumptions ( I was asked "what do you use the computer for", "how often do you drive".

    Be aware of what the 'rules' are, and if the assessor doesn't comply make a note. 

    Best bit - I forgot that the assessor concluded I could walk at 60 m/sec! (Usain Bolt can manage 10 m/sec)

  • FairHairedFoodie
    FairHairedFoodie Member Posts: 28 Courageous
    edited January 2020
    cristobal said:
    @FairHairedFoodie - I'm not sure whether this will help you but ...

    I'm confident that the majority of assessments are done properly and accurately.

    Mine wasn't one - I recorded it so I know that most of the procedure was ignored; poor technique, wrongly recording answers, constantly 'summarising' what I'd said wrongly, making assumptions that were wrong, carrying out examination without consent.

    My advice - be aware that overwhelming majority of them are done properly - but also that a minority are not.

    If information is summarised wrongly then pull the assessor up.

    Same with leading questions.

    Same with assumptions ( I was asked "what do you use the computer for" which I didn't answer initially)

    I won't go on......
    @Cristobal This is equally comforting AND terrifying. I genuinely appreciate your feedback.
  • cristobal
    cristobal Member Posts: 987 Disability Gamechanger
    @fairhairedfoodie - don't be terrified - the overwhelming majority are done perfectly properly.

    Be prepared.
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,797 Disability Gamechanger
    The AP guidance is just that. Guidance. It is best practice and MUST legally be taken account of but it doesn’t have to slavishly be followed to the letter. There are a number of circumstances where it ought to be obvious a HCP has no choice such as where a claimant has severe and enduring mental ill health or a learning disability or a sensory impairment and no-one is their appointee but viewing it as a means to audit what’s written is a non-starter. 

    As regards what’s been left out. Not much from the sound of it. Two real world examples per activity and you’re done. It sounds like you’ve mostly done that anyway. A little too much emphasis on medical evidence at present. I would also use the Extra Information at the end to formally request a specific award length. The extent you request will be totally determined by your circumstances. If you’ve been bi-polar for a decade; exhausted available meds or found something which makes you stable then I’d be looking for 10 years for example. 
  • FairHairedFoodie
    FairHairedFoodie Member Posts: 28 Courageous
    Just an update here, so perhaps a start-to-finish first time applicant experience and timeline (however tenuous and unreliable a timeline can be) may prove helpful for others.

    I received a text message at 10:29am this morning that reads:

    This message is from Independent Assessment Services. As you may be aware, DWP has temporarily suspended face to face consultations due to COVID-19 and replaced them with phone consultations. We have a number of telephone consultation appointments available on Monday 20th April 2020. Please call us on xxxx xxx xxxx to book an appointment time. Kind regards, IAS

    I called the second I got the message and was told I would receive a call back from a consultant on the 20th April for my official consultation.

    So far, my timeline is as follows:

    Called for initial phone interview on Nov 29 2019
    Received paper application on Dec 5 2019
    Mailed paper application and supporting documentation back on Jan 3 2020
    Received text from DWP acknowledging receipt of the above on Jan 9 2020
    Received text message from IAS for telephone interview/consultation April 15 2020
    IAS interview/consultation scheduled for April 20 2020

    Fingers crossed for a fair consultation and decision. I honestly would have preferred face to face but it is what it is right now. 
  • Adrian_Scope
    Adrian_Scope Posts: 8,178

    Scope community team

    Thanks for sharing your timeline with us @FairHairedFoodie. It's definitely useful to read other people's experiences.
    Community Manager
    Scope

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  • FairHairedFoodie
    FairHairedFoodie Member Posts: 28 Courageous
    Just an update.

    My phone interview with the IAS assessor, which was scheduled for 9:15am this morning, was terminated due to the assessor saying she could not identify me.

    I was at a heightened anxiety level and could not remember my date of birth (yes, that’s how terrible my anxiety gets—I cannot even remember the simplest things).

    I was able to answer other identifying questions but she outright said she did not believe I am who I said I am.

    Also as a point of note, I am an American by birth and have a distinctly American accent. I told her that my paperwork mentions at least twice that I am an American. She said it could be a family member giving the answers, even though my paperwork says I am in the U.K. alone and my family will not talk to me.

    I was with my carer, who works for the UK Supreme Court and is a civil servant, but she wouldn’t allow him to identify me.

    Lastly, I offered to take a photo of myself holding my passport to identify me, or send a quick video clip with me, holding my passport, and speaking. I then offered to have my council appointed social worker call to confirm the photo is of me, to which she said no.

    When I asked to speak to a manager, she again said no.

    I’m at a loss as to what happens now.
  • FairHairedFoodie
    FairHairedFoodie Member Posts: 28 Courageous
    I have reached out to the welfare rights group in my borough and DWP, as well as my MP with the following:

    I would like to raise a formal complaint regarding my telephone assessment with Independent Assessment Services, which was terminated by the assessor I was speaking with, [assessor name], because she stated she was not able to identify me.

    I believe that given the fact that the assessment was for a mental health issue, it should not be considered unusual that a heightened state of anxiety might prevent me from remembering simple information--and I was not given a reasonable accommodation for the disability with the alternative methods of identification I suggested and am willing to provide.

    My call was scheduled at xx:xx on 20th April 2020. [Assessor] called at the appointed time and asked if I was expecting a call and what it was for, which I answered correctly. I was asked my name and date of birth, the latter of which I had difficulty giving and asked my carer for assistance. The difficulty was primarily due to my heightened anxiety, but also because I am an American and the American method of written dates is not the same as in the UK [ie: My birthday is Day/Month/Year by the British method, but Month/Day/Year by the American method]. Ultimately, I simply said Month Xth, 19XX. To this she stated that she could not use my date of birth because I was required to ask.

    She then informed me that she would need to use other means to identify me. She asked who my GP was. I answered that I use the app [Name of NHS GP app]. Off the top of my head I only knew the practice name, but as the app has a revolving door of GPs and I had never seen the same GP twice, nor have I ever spoken to the GP I am assigned to through the app [Dr. Name], I needed to reference my paperwork for the name as the name of the practice itself was not enough to satisfy her. 

    When [Assessor] asked for the name of my social worker, I was able to provide the first name but not the surname as I have never called him anything but [Given name]. Again I was told that I was not allowed to reference the paperwork.

    At this point [Assessor] said she would need to talk to her boss and would call me back, which she did, stating that after consulting with her boss, the appointment needed to be terminated.

    Desperate, because I had already waited for months for my assessment to be scheduled, I offered other alternative methods.

    - My American accent is very clear, and my supporting documentation/evidence says I am an American. Her reply to this was it could be a family member, despite the fact that my application states that my family has abandoned me.

    - I offered to take a photo of myself with my identification, which she refused to accept.

    - I offered to have my social worker call and verify that the photo and ID were truly mine, and that the person on the phone was me, which she refused.

    - I was with my carer, who is a civil servant that works at the U.K. Supreme Court in Westminster, but his identifying me was also not an option.

    Ultimately, [Assessor] said outright, "I do not believe you are who you say you are." You can imagine how being called a liar would impact an individual with severe mental health issues.

    I then asked to speak with a manager. She refused. Her refusal in this is confusing since I immediately called the Independent Assessment Services office and was told a manager would call me back within 48 hours. Why [Assessor] did not offer this as an option, I do not know.

    I do not understand why confirmation from a [Borough] Council social worker and/or a civil servant from the UK Supreme Court would not be allowed to identify me satisfactorily. There was absolutely no compassion whatsoever, or even a sliver of kindness from the assessor. It pains me that this is the treatment that a woman with debilitating and lifelong mental health issues would be forced to endure.

    I am begging you now to be provided another assessment appointment in the very near future, with a different assessor, so I may be able to receive the care I so desperately need.

    Thank you for you time and assistance,

    My name
    My address
  • FairHairedFoodie
    FairHairedFoodie Member Posts: 28 Courageous
    edited April 2020
    Another update...

    A manager from IAS called me back, apologised, said what occurred should have never happened and would be looked into, and booked me another appointment with a different assessor for tomorrow.

    What a relief!

    So my new timeline is as follows:

    Nov 29 2029 Called for initial phone interview
    Dec 5 2019 Received paper application
    Jan 3 2020 Mailed paper application and supporting documentation back
    Jan 9 2020 Received text from DWP acknowledging receipt of the above
    Apr 15 2020 Received text message from IAS for telephone interview/consultation, IAS interview/consultation scheduled for April 20 2020
    Apr 20 2020 IAS assessor called at the appointed time, however, this went south quickly as the assessor stated she could not identify me

    Apr 20 2020 After receipt of the emailed (in the last post), an IAS manager rang 3-hours later with an apology. The assessment was rescheduled for the next morning with a different assessor.

    Apr 21 2020 New date of telephone assessment 
  • FairHairedFoodie
    FairHairedFoodie Member Posts: 28 Courageous
    edited April 2020
    I had my telephone assessment two hours ago and felt like it went alright, although it is difficult to tell. There were definitely questions that appeared to be leading with an attempt to contradict another answer, and they were woven in at points in the assessment where they followed a question with a different descriptor. An example of this was being asked if I had a bank account, which I do, although I do not have access to it. About 15 minutes later after answering questions about moving about and social interactions, I was asked about debt. She asked how it was acquired, to which I answered through catalogues. She then asked how they were paid for, which was via store credit. She then asked how the credit was paid back, to which I answered that it wasn’t, and an advocate assisted in applying for a DRO. While seemingly natural questions which were asked in a friendly, reassuring tone, I do think the intent was to either confirm or determine conflict between stating I have no access to my bank accounts but still acquired debt.

    Another example was regarding nutrition/food. At the beginning of the assessment I was asked about meal preparation, to which I answered I am wholly dependant on takeaway delivery and carers bringing prepared meals to the house. Later in the assessment I was asked if I used grocery delivery for my food shopping, but it wasn’t actually a full question, it was worded, “So your groceries, they’re delivered to your home since you do not go into shops?” The answer was obviously no since I was asked before how I obtain my nutrition (and I answered with no), but the timing of the question and the way it was worded felt as if it was intended to contradict that I am
    nourished by food already prepared and brought into the house.

    Then there was the question of bathing. I use a shower seat and have grip rails, which might not seem like someone with a MH disability needs. First she asked why I had them, to which I answered that the windows are frequently open in the loo and if I hear neighbours in their garden outside, I panic. I also get dizzy as a result of my medication. Her follow-up question was if the aid were already there (as in, am I using them because they were installed previously for someone else and don’t really need them). I let her know that 3 years ago the landlord installed then and they were paid for by the NHS especially for me.

    My carer was something of a saviour for me in this, prompting back to the descriptors so there was no confusion on what the true answer was.

    I think it went alright and will report back once I have the assessment in hand in a week.

    @Adrian_Scope @mikehughescq @ilovecats @cristobal @poppy123456
  • FairHairedFoodie
    FairHairedFoodie Member Posts: 28 Courageous
    edited April 2020
    Alright, so something a bit unusual occurred this morning. My telephone assessment was yesterday at 9:15 am. This morning at 9:01am I receive the following text:

    We've received the written report of your PIP assessment. We will write to you once we've made a decision on your PIP. As a guide you should hear from us within 6 weeks. You don't need to contact us unless any of the details you gave us have changed. Thank you.

    I rang the DWP as soon as I received the text, and after a 24-minute hold an agent answered. I said I’d received a text and would like a copy of the assessors report. She said that was fine, click-clack-and typed away, said, “There it is...”, and then, “All right, I’ve printed that up and it will be popped in the post today.”

    So apparently, for whatever reason, the DWP got my assessment report back less than 24-hours after the telephone assessment, and have agreed to send it to me today. Regardless of the outcome (which I cannot speculate on at all), at least I’ll have some insight sooner rather than later.

    @Adam_Scope @mikehughescq @ilovecats @cristobal @poppy123456

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