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DWP Staff Don’t Understand PTSD Says Royal British Legion

November 25, 2020

Disabled ex-armed forces personnel are being let down by the welfare system, with many experiencing stress and anxiety brought on by the struggle to access social security benefits, according to the Royal British Legion.

The charity said frontline Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff were insufficiently aware of their obligations under the armed forces covenant, which requires public services to give special consideration to injured ex-service personnel.

Among the difficulties reported by veterans to a Royal British Legion survey was the failure of benefits officials to understand post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when carrying out and scoring health assessments for disability benefits.Advertisementhttps://cc84282e08ce3bdb28bd71394d580ab1.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

“I have PTSD, borderline personality disorder, anxiety and depression and the assessor said I had no psychological symptoms,” one respondent said. “I supplied a consultant psychiatrist letter stating all my mental health conditions. I scored zero on mental health. This is laughable.”

Benefit eligibility assessors often failed to understand the condition and lacked insight into PTSD and how it affected daily life, the report said. “For many veterans who struggled to access military compensation for their mental health conditions, undergoing another assessment for welfare support was an upsetting experience.”

Veterans also felt they were punished at face-to-face assessments because they were smartly dressed, which they believed led officials to believe they could not possibly be ill. “There was little understanding of the military mindset, where military personnel are expected to be well presented and turned out at all times.”

The legion report, carried out with the charity Poppyscotland, said veterans who had received permanent military compensation awards for injuries sustained in the service were left stressed and anxious by the continuous cycle of re-assessments for DWP disability benefits.

“The whole process makes me feel harassed and it is almost as if I’m a suspected fraudster,” said a veteran with PTSD in the report. “It is simply criminal to put people through this repeatedly.”

The legion survey found nearly two-thirds of veterans struggled to complete the application form for employment and support allowance, while three quarters had difficulty with personal independence payment paperwork. According to the legion, 39% of army recruits have a reading age of 11 or lower.

“At the Legion we support injured veterans who can sometimes struggle to access benefits to which they are entitled, simply because the system doesn’t always acknowledge their unique needs or injuries sustained whilst serving in the military,” said Matthew Seward, assistant director, public affairs and public policy, Royal British Legion.

Mark Collins, the chief executive of Poppyscotland, said: “Injured veterans often struggle to access benefits because the system doesn’t understand their needs or time in service. Too many face challenges accessing the essential financial support that they need and deserve.”

The DWP said it would give the report careful consideration. “The department recognises the sacrifices made by the brave men and women who serve in our armed forces, and is a proud supporter of the armed forces covenant,” said a spokesperson.

“As part of our commitment to supporting the armed forces community, our networks of DWP work coaches and Armed Forces Champions are in place to ensure that the support, guidance and advice offered reflects their needs, and all work coaches receive training on armed forces issues.”

There are an estimated 90,000 veterans of working age receiving military compensation. The Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts between 2001 and 2014 alone saw 22,000 servicemen and women medically discharged from the armed forces for physical or mental health reasons.

A study by a Salford University academic published last year found many armed forces veterans with complex needs reported overwhelmingly negative experiences of universal credit, disability benefits assessments and benefit sanctions.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 25, 2020 6:32 pm

    Reblogged this on Tory Britain!.

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