“You are owed some money” – winning back after PIP cut

Ms X, a disabled single mum and survivor of domestic violence, tells how she secured over £5,000 backdated PIP which the DWP owed for her social support needs “mixing with people” – taking action from info about a legal case she read about online.  She could pay off energy bills and other debts hanging over her.  This restored money to her which she had lost years before, when her DLA was ended — she was forced to apply for PIP instead, and suffered a cut in rates. Ms X writes:

Changes in PIP law - You are owed some money

My PIP and MM Supreme Court judgement of 18 July 2019 

“Back in March this year, I discovered by chance that disabled people like me who had been receiving PIP at the standard rate daily since 2016, may be due a back payment.  This is due to a ruling by the Supreme Court in 2019, SSWP v MM 2019, about a man with mental distress in Scotland.  His case went all the way to the Supreme Court because the government refused to accept a tribunal decision — that because he needed encouragement from an experienced supporter to deal with people face-to-face, beforehand or at the time, he should get 4 points under Activity 9 of the PIP test (see PIP info for more explanation).  The DWP spends huge sums on lawyers to challenge these benefit rights cases.  After this ruling, the DWP was told to go through similar claims by people with mental distress, and inform us that we are entitled to more.

“I wasn’t quite sure if this new ruling applied to me, mostly because I had not had any correspondence from the DWP, but also I was not entirely sure of how to go about getting the backdated payment.”

“Most days I can just about deal with day-to-day living, with its stresses, and managing my condition which is debilitating: brain fog and relentless pain, fatigue, anxiety — and having experienced years of stress with the repeated reviews from the DWP and long delays which leave you on tenterhooks for years.  Added to that, I am a victim of domestic violence and it affects me if men are rude or hostile to me.  It’s anxiety-provoking to have to contact or speak to strangers over the phone, especially if they are not on my side. I knew I could not handle even the thought of calling the DWP, so I contacted WinVisible, who have helped so much in the past — to get their advice on how best to contact the DWP.  

WinVisible said that I would need to write by post to the DWP PIP team (the team address is on the letters I get), but suggested that I email my MP the same info to follow them up, as I was worried about my letter getting lost in the DWP backlog.  Thank goodness for the women who are a massive strength and their guidance helped me to write to my MP.  They provided me with the official reference to the legal ruling of the PIP back payment, so the DWP knew they would be held to account. 

I checked my old award letters from the DWP.  In 2017, the DWP transitioned me from DLA to PIP. My award was cut from DLA high rate care to PIP standard daily living, and they also cut my mobility payment.  I had to challenge this, going for mandatory reconsideration and then I applied to go to Tribunal.  The DWP gave me back my mobility to enhanced level, a week before the Tribunal.   The DWP rang me and said, would I accept it along with standard daily living.  (This is sneaky because most people win more if the Tribunal does go ahead.)  I agreed because I was not well enough to challenge, although they said I could challenge their decision.  They rely on people being too ill or exhausted to keep fighting on.

From my first PIP assessment, I was only 1 point short (11 points instead of 12) of receiving enhanced rate of daily living!  For Activity 9, I had been scored 2 points for engaging with people and prompting. Therefore, under the 2019 ruling, I was entitled to 4 points and I should have been awarded the enhanced rate — in 2017 up until 2021.  When I received my review result in 2021, I noticed that my points were actually 4 points for 9b and I was awarded Enhanced Daily Living for the next 8 years.

So, back to today,  I wrote to the DWP with evidence attached, and emailed my MP, copying in WinVisible. In my letter, I explained where I had been scored 2 points instead of 4:

“I should be entitled to Enhanced Daily Living and been scored 4 points for this descriptor as I was receiving and continue to receive support from family /friends and support from Victim Support as a victim of Domestic Violence and I am under (hospital name) Chronic Fatigue Clinic. Letters attached will confirm the support from Victim Support as I require social support . . . to be able to engage with other people as it causes me severe distress and anxiety due to suffering domestic abuse, and chronic fatigue /M.E. “

I was expecting a long wait, but four weeks after emailing my MP and sending the DWP my letter by post, I heard back from my MP’s office with the news that the DWP had awarded me the back payment, which was a complete shock and overwhelming surprise.

Letter extract:

Letter extract: I made my decision using information about your health condition or disability including details of any treatment, medication, test results and symptoms. I have looked at the information you provided and changed the points previously chosen as the previous decision was based on an error in law. The evidence indicates that you have difficulties mixing with people especially unfamiliar people. You have had significant specialist input for your mental health. You also noted that your mother and close friend provide you with a level of support when engaging. They are well versed in dealing with you and your anxieties. I have decided that you needed prompting from someone experienced in assisting people to engage in face to face social situations. This means you needed social support. Your PIP award has increased from (date) 2017 as this is the earliest I can award you from. Your award following this dated (date) 2021 is correct at the Enhanced rate in which you score a C for Activity 9, mixing with others.

The money means I can pay off gas and electricity debts, and other expenses, which as disabled lone parent of a disabled child, living through difficult cost-of-living sky-high costs, means I do not have to worry excessively and can relax a little. (E.ON was rude to me when I asked them about their hardship fund.)  I actually still can’t quite believe how the DWP failed to contact me.  Had I not known or written to them via my MP with WinVisible’s support, I would not have this payment now. I feel so overwhelmed by it all. 

This is why I am now reaching out to the wonderful WinVisible disabled mothers and other disabled women with mental distress, who may actually be missing out on a financial benefit which they are entitled to and may never receive if they do not contact the DWP.  I truly wish that you can all get the PIP back payment you are entitled to and that this money will bring you a lot of much needed financial help during these extremely difficult times. 

What really shocks me is why the DWP never wrote to me or contact others like me who are entitled to the back payment! How would I ever have known, had it not been brought to my attention by other sources! We suffer enough without chasing the DWP. 

I would encourage you all to check your award letters for PIP from 2016 onwards. 

People who may have missed out on the Daily Living element of PIP, or were awarded the standard rate and may be entitled to the enhanced rate, include:

  1. People who have regular meetings with a mental health professional, without which they would not be able to manage face to face encounters.
  2. People who need the input of particular friends or relatives with experience of supporting them in social situations — rather than just any well-meaning friend or relative — to help them manage face to face encounters.

If you received less than 4 points for descriptor 9 engaging /prompting/social support, you may be entitled to a back payment if your daily living points equal 12 in total, to receive Enhanced Daily Living. 

I also understand that some people on Working Tax Credits also received extra payments from HMRC as they qualified for severe disability element of WTCs due to being on enhanced daily living of PIP.  

The benefit entitlement will not apply if you were already getting the maximum rate of PIP daily living continuously since 2016.” 

See: https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/lifestyle/money/pip-back-payments-assessment-change-32709989

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