“Thanks for giving me hope”

brick wall
If you feel you are up against a brick wall…

We got this message about our self-help information on exemption from face-to-face benefit interviews:

Hi, I’m emailing about the story you have online from June 2017 about the guidelines protecting people with severe mental illness getting a face to face assessment when applying for PIP. I’m from Northern Ireland and have a 20-year severe mental illness history. In 2017, shortly after PIP was brought in, I applied for it and provided a very detailed letter from my Community Psychiatric Nurse. When the Capita assessor came to my home I told her I felt very distressed, anxious and hadn’t slept for 3 nights worrying about it and felt I could not do the assessment. She said it was necessary to do it or I won’t get PIP.

I felt absolutely terrible after doing it. I was given a 3-year award. In April my form arrived to re-apply. The form took 8 days to arrive in 1st class post, which took up a large portion of the already short time that I had to complete and return it. I phoned the DWP and a very nasty person said when I return it I will definitely have to attend a face-to- face assessment.

It is absolutely disgraceful that these horrible, deceitful people are allowed to treat people with debilitating mental illness in this way. Even Citizens Advice website says unless you are diagnosed with a terminal illness you will most likely have to do a face-to-face assessment when applying for PIP.  It seems to me very little is online about the guidelines, it’s almost as if they don’t want people to know about it. I spoke to my support worker and showed him your story, even he didn’t know about it and he agreed that if they send letter to do assessment, he will provide me with letter to try for exemption. Thank you for highlighting this…it has given me hope with my situation of not having to go through the traumatic, distressing experience of an assessment with someone that has no understanding or empathy towards mental illness.

See our benefits help info for more info about exemption.

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