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Claimant Refused PIP By Tribunal- For Spending Too Much Time On Facebook

October 20, 2015

With many thanks to Benefits And Work.

A shocked welfare rights worker, posting on Rightsnet, has revealed how his client had their personal independence payment (PIP) appeal refused because of the amount of time the claimant allegedly spent on Facebook.

Accused of lying
The claimant had appealed to a first-tier tribunal about the decision on their PIP claim and attended an oral hearing with a representative.

Whilst considering their mental health, the claimant was asked by the panel whether they ever used Facebook. The claimant replied that they did so ‘now and again’.

After all the evidence had been taken, the claimant and their representative returned to the waiting room while the tribunal made their deliberations.

However, when they were called back before the panel to hear the decision, the claimant was accused of lying to the tribunal. The medical panel member had the claimant’s Facebook page open on their smartphone and was reading from it, clearly taking the view that the number of posts was too frequent to be regarded as ‘now and again’.

Because the evidence gathering phase of the appeal had ended, the claimant was not allowed to respond, they could only listen to the decision of the tribunal in shocked silence.

Thus they were given no opportunity to challenge the accusation that they were lying or to explain that their partner also used their Facebook page.

Instead, they must now go through the lengthy process of asking for a statement of reasons from the tribunal judge – which can take many weeks or months to be provided – before asking for the decision to be set aside or appealing to the upper tribunal.

Breach of natural justice
There is a very strong probability that the decision will be overturned because it is such a flagrant breach of natural justice: the decision was based on evidence acquired by the panel itself from elsewhere and the claimant was given no opportunity to comment on it.

But, as well as leaving a big question mark over the quality of training for tribunal members, this episode also raises the possibility that claimants’ use of social media may in the future be used as evidence when making decisions on benefits entitlement.

If all the facts are collected and the claimant is given the opportunity to comment on them, this may just be another indignity that claimants are expected to learn to live with. Either that or claimants will need to make sure that their online life is kept as private as possible.

But if decisions are made based on partial evidence and wrong assumptions, as in this case, it will simply lead to more unfairness and injustice for sick and disabled people.

View the topic on Rightsnet

Dear readers, you just couldn’t make it up!

I’m off to share this post on Facebook!

27 Comments leave one →
  1. mili68 permalink
    October 20, 2015 4:46 pm

    Reblogged this on disabledsingleparent.

  2. mili68 permalink
    October 20, 2015 4:46 pm

    Tweeted @melissacade68

  3. mili68 permalink
    October 20, 2015 4:47 pm

    Is that a justified and legal reason for refusing a POP application??

  4. October 20, 2015 7:08 pm

    Reblogged this on lawrencerowntree.

  5. Moggy permalink
    October 20, 2015 8:53 pm

    As you (Benefits&Work) rightly reported in 2011: “In relation to DLA it was accepted, after hard fought legal battles, that disabled people have a right to enjoy an ordinary life, which includes social and leisure activities, in the same way as people who are not disabled.” But for those of us who took part in the PIP consultation it was stated that although not all activities were mentioned they were a proxy for other activities ergo disabled people taking part in social activities is a given. The ‘proxy’ reference was mentioned in the consultation and should also be in Hansard. I remember it being debated.

  6. October 20, 2015 10:20 pm

    Reblogged this on Benefit tales.

  7. October 20, 2015 10:24 pm

    Reblogged this on | truthaholics.

  8. Angela Milnes permalink
    October 20, 2015 11:27 pm


    • February 26, 2016 11:04 am

      Yes I agree, but if you want benefits you have to claim using their rules and sadly it’s now so difficult.

      Question always asked do you have a hobby, yes I do water colour painting GOOD Can I see something you have done.

      Can you write a letter no my hands and fingers are to painful, but you told them you do water colour painting that is enough to prove your fingers are not that bad

      If you can go on face-book and they will check and your on it often then your cognitive issues are good you can speak to people socialize work.

      This is the way they look at it.

      • Chrissy permalink
        July 4, 2016 5:03 pm

        Your reasoning is flawed. Writing a letter is nothing like doing a water colour painting, water colour painting requires a lot of rest and patience in between colours drying. In this time the fingers and hands are rested. Writing letter is not the same, it requires more pressure on the wrist and constant application of the fingers and hand in one place.
        Writing is a repetitive action using the same parts of the hand with little break. The other point is that a hobby means the person can take a rest when they need and does not have a target of actions to be completed within a time period. Working with your hands can create RSI and strain on the hands and wrist. Whereas painting or even writing as a hobby means rests can be taken to allow the person to be able to exercise the muscles and tendon groups without straining those.
        Have you seen some of the posts on Facebook? Many of them are far from grammatically correct let alone being politically correct! Being able to post on facebook does not mean an ability to socialise, nor to be able to use cognitive skills effectively.
        Whilst I accept there are people who choose and prefer not to work and try and obtain extra benefits, I do not accept the reasoning behind the refusal of benefits here that are based on a suggested ‘lie’ about the time spent on Facebook. I do not know how these cheats could be found out. But I do know that watching these people and observing their regular behaviours, rather than for 45 mins at an assessment, could reveal those who are cheating.
        Yet again why should people that are genuinely disabled be subjected to this level of interrogation? You will most likely (a guesstimate) find that the greater majority of those of us claiming benefits are actually very genuine. You will also find that we are the ones who understate our disability. I am guilty of doing this because I do not want to be seen in a negative light nor did I want my employers to know the extent of my disability because I wanted to work.

      • Moggy permalink
        July 28, 2016 5:29 pm

        Treborc was only looking it at the way the DWP/Atos/Maximus look at’s their thinking that’s flawed, Chrissie…not Treborc’s.
        As for spending time on Facebook. This is often the only form of social contact people with disabilities have. You can’t ever gauge a person’s disability by the amount of time they spend Facebook and why would you want to?

  9. Nienna permalink
    October 20, 2015 11:44 pm

    Not fair. Facebook is a frivolity which someone participates in from behind a screen.

  10. gfranklinpercival permalink
    October 20, 2015 11:44 pm

    It need only take four days.

    It only takes four days. We can absorb the casualties, they can’t.

    Compulsory viewing for all tories: a short film of the sentencing and execution of a criminal who four short days earlier had been Fountain Of Life, Giant Of The Carpathians. Ladeez an’ gemmun! Will you please your hands together for the great and very late President Ceausescu of Romania!

  11. October 22, 2015 8:46 am

    FB is my main form of socialisation as i do not get out much, hard to see how complete isolation would be a requirement to get PIP in any instance.

    • Chrissy permalink
      July 4, 2016 5:09 pm

      I guess this is because they were claiming they cannot socialise. We would need to see the evidence and claim to be able to make a judgement. I do know of some that are claiming they have agoraphobia, yet a week would demonstrate that this person is a liar and cheat as they are perfectly able to visit family and to walk 3 miles into town. Others I know claim they have mental health problems when the problem they actually have is idleness and drug addiction. This is very unfair on those who are genuine claimants with real needs. The media picks up on those people and then we are all tarred with the same brush from a population that are being manipulated by the media to divide so we can be conquered.

      • Moggy permalink
        July 28, 2016 5:37 pm

        Your level of ignorance astounds me, Chrissy. Agoraphobia does not always mean housebound. It literally means ‘fear of the market place’. It means people need to be at home most of the time but may be able to visit family on a good day. As for your comments about drug addicts, again you betray your total ignorance. I worked in the field for years. Drug addicts are human beings like anybody else and I have zero tolerance for people demonising other groups of people who are struggling to get by like ourselves. That’s not to say drug addicts are saintly, I worked with this group so I know only too well the things they will do to feed their habit but consider this. Are you aware that many people who have serious drug and alcohol addictions have been sexually abused as children? It never ceases to amaze me that people can have empathy for one group (the sexually abused – quite rightly so) yet can be so dismissive of maybe the same people in another context (when they have grown up and use drugs to mask the pain)
        Don’t buy all the rubbish about people being ‘idle’ otherwise you are falling into the same trap as the government. Many people who the government consider ‘idle’ are in fact people who do lots but they don’t get paid. They may be artists, volunteers, students, carers, parents…all hard workers in their own right.

      • Rosa permalink
        March 7, 2017 10:23 am

        Chrissy you seem to do a lot of Judging. You know little or nothing about Mental illness to come out with such a ridiculous statement. MH changes from day to day, people can look and appear well but are not, the blackness that descends can stop someone in Crisis feeding washing etc. Yes I do have the experience of caring for people with these complicated illnesses.

        ” Genuine claimants & real needs” looks like the garbage the Newspapers & Goverment have worked on you!

  12. October 23, 2015 7:20 am

    Reblogged this on markcatlin3695's Blog and commented:
    What the hell has social media use got to do with the state of a persons mental health? When I’m feeling ok my usage is quite high, and drops when I’m not. So if they picked a high-usage period they’d conclude I was ok would they? That’s pathetic.

  13. October 29, 2015 7:21 am

    Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.

  14. Sheena permalink
    November 6, 2015 4:30 pm

    I use social media because I can’t talk face to face with people. I become paranoid of my axcietys and panic attacks kick in. I start sweating shaking and crying. So as soon as I start sweating I have to leave. So I find talking on fb is a lot easier for me some times. But with my depression even on fb I find it hard to talk. I become short and in emotional .

  15. November 18, 2015 8:02 am

    A further example of inhumane , nonsensical attitudes and actions of decision-making against the lives of people made vulnerable because of inadequates given power over them. This must stop.

  16. December 29, 2015 7:05 pm

    Reblogged this on Aine Carson and commented:
    Something to think about if you’re on DLA and about to be reassessed for PIP.

  17. February 2, 2016 8:39 pm

    Emailed this to UN as further evidence!

    May I suggest everyone else who reads this and everyone else who is being persecuted by these Nazis contact United Nations Investigators to give your testimonies of your suffering at;

    jaraya@ohchr org

    And demand, DEMAND that the United Nations brings forward the publication of their report of the Conservative Party’s Nazi style persecution of disabled people, be brought forward immediately – and NOT June 2017 when Ian Duncan Smith’s DWP will have murdered thousands more!

    I DEMAND that Smith, and every single person that has conspired and who have assisted in this Demicide, EVERY SINGLE ONE of these sadistic bastards are put on trial for mass murder!

    Also remind the Secretary General and these UN investigators, that the British people have every right, EVERY RIGHT under Articles 2 & 4 of the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, to DEMAND EVERY SINGLE INDIVIDUAL that caused suffering, to be brought to justice !!!

  18. February 18, 2016 7:31 am

    When , in 2008, I was going through an early form of wca the welfare reform bill was under debate. Desperate with fear I watched every bit of proceedings that I could and wrote rambling incoherent letter to anyone who spoke in favour of the intended victims. I wrote because I had no access to social media, now in that position I would be twittering like buggery so I assume I would be deemed healthy despite the content of my ramblings.

    It is terrifying that this level of surveillance is allowed, and I can’t help wondering whether the panel already had access to that fb page and it was a setup. Some serious training is needed for these panels if they have not the slightest idea of the way in which many mental health sufferers , including myself actually interact with others.

    The isolation of the situation I found myself in drove me to attempt suicide, but perhaps the aim really is to isolate people to that point and remove their support network completely.

    • pedro permalink
      February 24, 2016 8:16 am

      I get all you’ve said Julliette. Glad you’ve pulled through. In 2008 there were so few of us and it seemed like a very lonely place.

  19. March 6, 2016 6:22 pm

    I’m currently going through this very unfair Court system after a family member was failed in a PIP appeal, what i;m seeing is many like my brother being denied PIP who at his assessment was awarded enough points to gain a reward of PIP but was unfairly refused it by the DWP decision maker, not satisfied with the evidence provided but then wanted my poor brother to go through a very stressful PIP Tribunal system that also failed him???

  20. Jo Watkins permalink
    September 23, 2016 11:35 am

    What on earth has how many hours a person spends on Facebook got to do with their disability?

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