My PIP Assessment Nightmare

When Money Gets In The Way!

This is not the first time I have had to fight for my benefits and a decentish standard of living, let us face it nothing is as good as going to work, especially if you are losing a professional income.

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First, it was ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) which took ages to sort out and I lost over £600 in the process. Once sorted and after literally months of waiting, I thought that everything was ok and stable. AND then what did they do? They brought out PIP (Personal Independence Payment) to replace DLA (Disability Living Allowance). Why did they do this? The whole process of changing over paperwork, staff training etc must have cost a fortune and I know it cost a great deal in bloodshed and tears from the claimants. Was this worth it? I just feel it was the Government, as usual, wasting taxpayers money. All they had to do was tighten up an existing very good scheme.

My first experience with PIP and the assessment process was with my son and I have done a section about this you can read it here, my sons PIP assessment nightmare. This was quite a while ago and I felt with all my experience from my sons’ assessment and also the fact that they would have improved the process because of some big government reviews they had been part of, it would be a slam dunk experience. Was I right NO!your-benefits-are-changing

This experience has been made a much more stressful one than necessary. I received my assessment through the post and the same day an altered assessment for my ESA (two bad letters at once). Because they had stopped paying me for some unknown reason the personal care part of my PIP I also lost my Severe Disablement addition to my employment and support assessment. That counts for at least £110 a week cut in my income. A 55% wage cut in fact. I wonder if the government could manage on a 55% cut of next to nothing. So now I have to do a counter letter to them including as much evidence I can of my condition. It’s so blinking degrading this is something they do not seem to understand. The majority of people do not like going on about how ill they are it depresses you. I try to stay positive and upbeat and this does not help when it comes to being assessed so I am now in the process of letting them know how limited my life is with a 24% lung function. The only time I feel normal is sat down and that’s the honest truth, anything more than that and I am breathless and when I am ill, I am breathless just talking. I am also on paliative care and have a DNR set up. I am down for paliative oxygen assessment too. It’s not an easy life having COPD and I feel the government is trying to punish us for being ill. It smacks of the Nazis who thought ill people were a strain on the economy and not worth a life. 

I am now going to get on with my PIP mandatory reconsideration and will let you all know how this turns out. I will post as soon as I receive an answer and living on £51 a week will definitely be a challenge until they have completed the new assessment. Hope they won’t take too long.

PART TWO

Have now sent off my PIP mandatory reconsideration. I also sent a query through to my local MP to see if they could help and they said that the DWP is very busy at the moment and it could take a while. Well, whose fault is that! 

This PIP MR (mandatory reconsideration), took me all week to write. I also had to ask my GP for a letter which he had ready for me in a few days and he also printed out a letter from my consultant that he had received. He was very helpful and did not charge me a penny for the letter. It took me a full day to counter their decisions on 6 sections. I went through each one stating their reasoning and then mine. It was a nightmare to do and it just makes it worse thinking that I will have to go through this in 3 years time again! So much wasted time and money on their behalf as my illness is degenerative I am never going to get any better, its total madness.images

One of the main things that I wanted to mention this week was the ruling for claiming a higher rate daily care or the higher rate mobility component during the PIP assessment process. It seems that there is some confusion about coming off one benefit and going onto another. I have wanted to claim the higher rate DLA now for some months and thought that I would have my claim backdated if I was successful. At the moment I am just in receipt of the middle rate personal care component of DLA. I was under the impression that when my letter came through informing my change from DLA to PIP that if I received the higher rate allowance it would be backdated to when I first applied for my PIP which was March this year. I asked PIP about this when I rang to start the process for my mandatory reconsideration and they said that the claim is not backdated at all if you are successful it will be paid from the second week in September and that I was still classed as being on DLA until then. 

I had a good think about the situation and thought if I was still on DLA officially thendownload surely I could put in another claim for the high rate to cover me from March this year to September when my benefit changed to PIP. I immediately rang up DLA to request they start up a claim for the higher rate DLA for these lost months. The lady I spoke to was unbelievably unhelpful. She sounded like a bored secretary, in fact, I would not have been surprised if she had been reading a book while she was talking to me! She informed me that DLA is not doing any further assessments at all and haven’t been doing for some time. So I asked her what was I supposed to do she said that I have a few weeks with my old amount of DLA and that should give me a few weeks to adjust to a lower amount of money. She made me feel that they were doing me a great favour by letting me keep my middle rate care for a further 4 weeks. I could have flipped at that point but I was just so shocked at her complete lack of interest in her job I was left speechless, unbelievable!

 

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ALL ABOUT BENEFITS -MONEY!!

crazy-little-thing-called-moneyMONEY WHAT AM I ENTITLED TO?

Further more detailed advice can be found by clicking the following links which are BLF and Benefits and Work both of these organisations have phone help lines which is very useful.

This is a basic guide to benefits for people living with a lung condition in England, Scotland and Wales. It was updated in February 2015

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 changed many benefits from April 2013. This guide contains an outline of –

The benefits that you may be entitled to if you:
• have care and/or mobility needs because of your lung condition;
• cannot work due to your lung condition;
• are thinking of giving up work because of your lung condition; or
• are caring for someone with a lung condition.
Each of the benefits listed below have different qualifying rules and conditions and can be divided into two main groups:
Means-tested or non-means-tested – if a benefit is means-tested it will take into account any other benefits or income you have.
Contributory or non-contributory – to qualify for some benefits you need to have paid a certain amount of National Insurance contributions.

Care and Mobility

Personal Independence payment (PIP)  PIP replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for adults aged 16 to 64 who have difficulties or needs
with aspects of their daily life. It is non-means-tested and non contributory, and can be paid whether you are working or not. Like DLA, PIP has two components which are now called Daily Living Activities and Mobility Activities. If you are eligible you can be paid for either components or just one. There are two rates, standard and enhanced, and you will be assessed on a points system to decide which rate you qualify for. To qualify for the standard rate you need eight points, and for the enhanced rate you need 12 points. To qualify for PIP you must have had the difficulties or needs for three months before you can claim and must be likely to continue to have them for the next nine months.

The process for reassessing current DLA claimants will begin in October 2013 and should be completed by 2017. If you reached the age of 65 by 8 April 2013 your DLA claim can continue and you should not be reassessed for PIP.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) This is only available if you are claiming for a child under the age of 16 and satisfy the care and/or mobility criteria. You will need to show that your child has significantly more care needs than a child of the same age without any health problems. DLA has two components: a care element and a mobility element. To qualify for the mobility component your child must be at least three years of age.

I find the above a bit confusing so if you need any help with any of these rules and regulations you can receive it from the British Lung Foundation Helpline on 03000 030 555. Their specialist nurses and advisers are dedicated to answering your questions. OR http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/ this is a great site and you can obtain their phone number from the site.

Attendance Allowance
Attendance Allowance (AA) is a non-means-tested and non-contributory benefit paid to people aged 65 years and over who have personal care needs because of their lung condition. AA is paid at one of two rates, higher or lower depending on the level of problems you have. You must have had care needs for at least six months. There is no mobility payment with AA and any difficulties with mobility outside the home will not be
taken into account.

Special rules for terminally ill people
If a person is terminally ill and is not expected to live for longer than six months, under special rules, they can obtain Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence payment immediately. It’s a good idea to discuss with their GP or consultant. The GP or consultant will need to complete a DS1500 medical report form, which asks for information about diagnosis or treatment. The person claiming  should send the DS1500 form to DWP with the claim form for AA. PIP is claimed by phone. A claim can also be made on another person’s behalf by a carer, family member, friend or professional person. The person who is terminally ill doesn’t have to sign the claim form. They will simply be notified that they have been awarded the benefit and payment will be made to them.

Unable to Work
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
SSP is paid to employees who are unable to work because of sickness. SSP is paid by your employer for up to a maximum of 28 weeks and can be claimed back from the government by your employer. To be eligible for SSP you must meet certain conditions –
you must be working for your employer under a contract of service;
you must be earning above the earnings threshold, before tax and national insurance; and you must be sick for at least four days in a row.
Once SSP has ended, if you are still too sick to return to work, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) may be payable (see below)

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) can be paid if you are too ill to work. You must go to a Work Capability Assessment while your ESA is being assessed. ESA’s financial support has two elements:
Contributory ESA, which will depend on National Insurance contributions (this may not be necessary in certain circumstances).
Income-Related ESA, which is the means-tested element. It does not depend on National Insurance contributions, but it can depend on how much household income you have. It is intended that this part of ESA will be replaced by Universal Credit. Within the first 13 weeks of your claim for ESA, your work capability should be assessed and you should undergo a work capability assessment. Usually you will have to travel to a centre to be assessed. After this assessment the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can place you in one of the following groups:
The work-related activity group, where you will be expected to try to find employment and have regular interviews with an adviser
The support group, where you will not be expected to look for employment as your illness or disability has a severe effect on your ability to work
If the DWP decides you are fit to work straightaway they can advise you to apply for Job Seekers Allowance (JSA). By doing this you have to declare yourself fit for work. It is worth asking to speak to a Disability Employment Adviser at your local Jobcentre for specific guidance on applying for JSA. JSA is broken down into contribution-based and income-based allowance, and like income-based ESA, it is intended that income-based JSA will be replaced by Universal Credit.

The BLF helpline can give you more information, call 03000 030 555.