Winning “thanks to WinVisible lifeline”

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For two years, WinVisible has peer-supported disabled single mum Maria (not her real name) in South London, and provided her with information to secure benefits which the family needs:

• She used our blog about the Personal Independence Payments (PIP) legal challenge on mobility needs and mental distress, to brief Merton Centre for Independent Living (MCIL) preparing her PIP tribunal.  Sending this in to the DWP helped her go from zero to enhanced mobility component without a hearing.

• Our referral to Zacchaeus 2000 helped her secure increased DLA for her disabled son at tribunal in January 2019.

• She just won exemption from the ESA face-to-face interview using our self-help leaflet.

Maria wants to encourage other disabled women and survivors of domestic violence to fight their cases:  “The last two years have been toughest of my life fighting for my rights and benefits (and my child’s), which for me all started in 2017 when transferring from DLA to PIP.”

“As a lone disabled parent of a disabled child, I have chronic fatigue syndrome / fibromyalgia, PTSD since 1998, depression and anxiety, and am a Victim of DV [domestic violence] which includes a protective order so that my ex, the father of my child, can’t approach either of us, with an ongoing non-molestation order in place since 2017. The DV goes back to when I was pregnant and before then but I was too scared to report the ex. Last year he breached the order and I reported him to the police.”

“Before, I was in receipt of DLA higher rate care and lower rate mobility — to be awarded only standard daily living component and no mobility under PIP.”

“In 2017, I was forced to endure a PIP appointment at the assessment centre, despite asking for a home visit. I felt totally abused. Even my letter of complaint regarding the assessment process and manner in which it was carried out e.g. the lies, and how they had a fire drill, making all disabled claimants leave the building, was not enough to have my PIP correctly reconsidered and my complaint was not taken seriously enough. Even my local MP’s efforts failed to get the decision changed or have any effect whatsoever.”

“I requested a Mandatory Reconsideration which was unsuccessful. In the PIP assessor’s report, she specifically stated that under the mobility criteria the DWP do not give points for mental health issues.

“Seems unfair that the DWP should deny my mobility needs because I’m a mother. My local authority after all have given me a Blue Badge based on my medical evidence, also my son is disabled. Our local authority awarded my son 4 hours per week PA to assist us. All of these important facts which should be taken into account seemed to have not been properly communicated or acknowledged.”

“We [Maria and Merton CIL] appealed to tribunal. As I suffer panic attacks when out, I forwarded all of the links about the PIP mobility court case to my rep at Merton CIL, outlining the case and how it relates to my PIP.

“A week before the hearing, the DWP offered to stop my Tribunal going ahead — they gave in and offered enhanced mobility and standard daily living. I accepted although I was only 1 point away from enhanced daily living, as I couldn’t take the stress any longer.”

“In August 2019, I received the ESA50 form for reassessment which made me feel so ill and depressed. I was terrified of the thought of having to go through another face-to-face assessment, after having to fight to get my PIP.  I asked my DV solicitor to provide a letter, and my CFS/ME nurse and showed my GP the leaflet you’ve sent me.”

I received a letter from the DWP this week who have kept me in the support group for ESA and I have not been asked to attend a face-to-face assessment.

“I have also contacted MCIL and told them that I would like to help by passing on your leaflets and info (and how WinVisible supported me) and how others in similar circumstances such as victims of DV should also be exempt from f2f assessments. Your leaflets gave that extra clout from my MP, Victim Support, health professionals and my GP.”

I can’t thank WinVisible enough for all of the updates and victories. Without your information I would not be aware of all of the recent issues.  Your help and face-to-face exemption leaflets were extremely important and made the difference to gaining the support evidence/reports from my medical professionals and GP.”

“The anxiety and stress of the Review process affected my anxiety and health a lot, however, with your help I am now not faced with any more distress and can continue to receive my ESA and remain in the support group. The prospect of going through another face to face assessment was crippling!”

“It’s that dreaded fear you go through as with DV/coercive control that grips you and you have no escape from the torment, the lies and the interrogation.”

‘Where would we as Women be if we just gave up. We stand firm and strong as disabled women together, because we understand the real life struggles and we won’t be beaten or downtrodden. Thank you WinVisible for such a vital lifeline, forming an alliance of all Women and all creeds, together we are One!’

WinVisible adds:
To support our work helping other disabled women and campaigning, donations are welcome here, and if you would like to volunteer, please get in touch for a chat.

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