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Can You Help Billie Overturn PIP Changes?

May 24, 2017

With many thanks to Benefits And Work.

Can you help? Billie, a claimant with severe mental health issues, has launched a legal challenge against the recent changes to PIP. The new regulations have made it much harder for people with mental health conditions to get an award of the mobility component.

Mobility changes
In January of this year the DWP lost a case before a panel of upper tribunal judges.

The decision supported advice we had been giving for years: that claimants with conditions such as severe anxiety can qualify for the enhanced rate of the mobility component, just on the basis of problems with ‘Planning and following a journey’.

Rather than accept defeat, the government rushed through new regulations which came into force in March.

The effect is that people who are too anxious to ever undertake journeys, unless they have someone with them, will only be awarded 4 points by the DWP. This is not enough to get an award of the mobility component.

Even claimants who are too anxious to ever go on journeys, even if they have someone with them, will only score 10 points. This is not enough to get an award of the enhanced mobility component.

alone.

Mind have estimated that up to 160,000 people with conditions such as severe anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia will lose out as a result of the changes.

Billie’s challenge
Billie (not her real name) has severe mental health problems which mean that she is extremely vulnerable when travelling. She needs a lot of support to do this reliably and safely.

Because of her condition she often gets disoriented and confused and has poor concentration, memory and organisational skills.

When her condition is at its most severe, Billie can travel miles in the wrong direction with no recollection of how she has got there, often having to rely on the public and police to help her get home.

Billie was refused an award of the mobility component of PIP under the new regulations.

She has launched her High Court challenge on the basis that the change in the law discriminates against claimants with mental health conditions and also on the grounds that the DWP should have carried out a proper consultation before deciding whether to bring in the changes.

Billie and the Public Law Project are collaborating with human rights barrister Aileen McColgan of Matrix Chambers, who is working on a no-win no-fee basis.

However, £3,000 is still needed to cover court fees and other expenses.

Since the crowdfunding page opened on 23 May, £750 has already been donated.

Who’s next?
We know from recent forecasts made by the office for Budget Responsibility that PIP is failing to cut the disability benefits bill. The only way that will change is if the DWP make the PIP test ever harder to pass, so that fewer and fewer claimants get an award.

This time it was claimants with mental health conditions who were targeted. Next it could be an claimants with an entirely different condition.

Whatever your health condition, everyone has an interest in ensuring that the DWP learns that it can’t just change the PIP regulations whenever it chooses. At least, not without facing a serious legal backlash.

If you can afford a small donation, Billie’s Crowdjustice page is here

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A Short Post On Manchester Arena Incident

May 23, 2017

Same Difference sends thoughts and best  wishes to readers in Manchester after last night’s tragic incident. We hope that you and your loved ones are safe and unaffected.

To those killed- RIP. To their families, thoughts and sincere condolences.

To those who will now become disabled- your lives will change beyond recognition, but we hope you will eventually be happy in your new lives.

There will be no further posts today. Posting resumes tomorrow. We share the shock and sadness of many and will be spending today following related news.

 

PIP: The Reasonable Wishes Of A Claimant To Walk Further Or More Frequently Must Be Considered

May 22, 2017

A new legal judgment established that the PIP mobility component should not be based on a supposed “objective test” of how far a disabled person or how often they need to “move around”.

View summary of decision

In brief, the Upper Tribunal judgment holds that it is wrong for a tribunal to assume that a disabled person will only reasonably need to walk once to the local shop and back.

Instead, it needs to consider if they have a reasonable wish to be able to go elsewhere – to the park or to visit a friend for example.

If they are prevented from doing this by the effects of their disability, then this needs to be considered in how far and how often they can repeatedly mobilise. 

In CPIP/3622/2016 Upper Tribunal Judge Gray holds that to the extent a tribunal excluded the appellant’s choice as to how often she would “move around” and replace that with an objective test of how often she needed to do so it was wrong.

Judge Gray says that:

“If the tribunal looked at the concept ‘repeatedly’ on one walk to a local shop and then back home each day, which an appellant could accomplish at one stretch, perhaps because it felt that she would be able to pick up what she needed on such an outing, that would be to assess her on an overly limited basis: she may wish to walk on to the park, or meet a friend, and why should she not?

He adds that:

“…  a tribunal does not need to accept the genuineness of an extreme routine put forward in an apparent attempt to “generate” points, but if it is accepted that somebody would like to walk further or more frequently and such activity is not inherently unreasonable then that wish should be factored in to the calculation of how often the activity being assessed is reasonably required to be completed. 

To address this matter otherwise would be to calculate entitlement upon the tribunal’s view of what the disabled person’s activities should be.”

So, Judge Gray finds that unless it is inherently unreasonable an appellant’s choice of where they would like to move around should be respected.

This judgment is important as it reinforces the principle that all PIP activity descriptors should be assessed on a disabled person to “repeatedly” undertake them as often as they reasonably require.

This includes Mobility not only mobility PIP but also Daily Living Activities.

Judge Gray also holds that the tribunal had failed to fully consider the meaning of ‘engaging socially’ when considering Activity 9 – engaging with other people face to face.  The tribunal should have seen this as going beyond engagement with health professionals and family members, taking into account the wishes of the appellant:

“…there is no legal basis for limiting the assessment of her ability to engage with others face to face to such engagement as is reasonably necessary. The purpose of PIP, like DLA before it, is to assist those with disabilities to live, as far as possible, the life that they would wish to live, and any mitigating behaviour adopted because of that disability must be disregarded”

Disabled mum took fatal overdose after she was refused PIP

May 22, 2017

Politics and Insights

Susan Roberts was found dead because of a morphine overdose (Photo: Philip Coburn)

A disabled mum, Susan Roberts, was found dead at home following an overdose of morphine. Susan died just metres away from a heartbreaking 11-page letter she had written to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), detailing her suffering following being told she wasn’t eligible for Personal Independence Payment (PIP). 

Susan, a grandmother of eight, had survived four heart attacks. She died £4,000 in debt, after taking a fatal overdose within hours of being informed that her claim for PIP was unsuccessful. She had previously claimed Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and had been given an indefinite award, as her medical conditions were considered highly unlikely to get better.

The letter from the Department for Work and Pensions(Photo: Philip Coburn)

Susan was asked to apply for PIP by the DWP following the proposed closure of her DLA…

View original post 2,481 more words

Woman was too scared to leave job centre during a heart attack as she feared being sanctioned

May 22, 2017

Politics and Insights

Salena Hannah (Photo: Adam Sorenson)

A woman who suffered a heart attack during a job centre in-work progression interview has said she was too scared to get up and leave to get medical help as she was afraid of ­losing her benefits. Salena Hannah, who works part-time, says that she had the attack during her appointment, but was ignored by the “callous” job centre interviewer.

She explained: “I had been suffering with chest pains for about two weeks and took a couple of sprays of GTN spray, to help with my angina, before I walked in to meet my interviewer.

“My job is under 16 hours, so I am forced to attend regular meetings, or my benefits might be stopped.

“I was feeling some really bad pains in my chest and I told her at least two or three times that I was in agony, but she was just so callous, she just kept…

View original post 1,673 more words

England Appoint First Ever Full-Time Disability Cricket Coaches

May 19, 2017

The England and Wales Cricket Board has named Ross Hunter and Ian Salisbury as England’s first ever full-time disability cricket coaches.

Ex-England international Salisbury has been appointed as new head coach of England’s physical disability team.

Hunter will continue his work as coach of England’s visually impaired side, now in a full-time capacity.

The ECB’s head of disability cricket Ian Martin said: “This is an important step change in disability cricket.”

He added: “I’m proud that we are the first international cricket board to make such a step.

“It will increase the capacity of our coaches to work with performance squads and is further evidence of the improvement and culture shift within our national squads.”

Hunter recently led the England’s visually impaired side to the semi-finals of the Blind World Cup in India, where they lost to Pakistan.

Salisbury’s first assignment will be to prepare England’s physical disability squad for games this summer as the side continues to build towards a world tournament in England in 2019.

“I am very humbled and honoured, especially knowing that we are the first two coaches in the world to be working full-time in disability cricket,” he said.

“This will create an environment that puts this team at the forefront of disability cricket in England and the world.”

Man With MS Defers Plans To End Life After Being Encouraged To Seek Support

May 18, 2017

This just proves how very important it is to have people who share your disability in your life!

A man who planned to end his own life in a clinic in Switzerland has deferred his decision after being encouraged to seek more support.

Colin Campbell, of Inverness, has primary progressive multiple sclerosis and told BBC Scotland last month that his health had rapidly deteriorated.

He has now said he may not attend the Swiss clinic after another MS patient encouraged him to press for more help.

NHS Highland said support was tailored to individual patients’ needs.

Assisted suicide is unlawful in Scotland. A move to change the law was defeated in a vote in the Scottish Parliament in 2015.

Mr Campbell, 56, who was booked to go to a clinic in Basel next month, was first diagnosed with MS when he was 34, but had previously suspected he had a health condition because of a deterioration in his ability to play sports.

He told BBC Scotland that he has deferred his decision to explore his options of better support and the possibility of stem cell treatment.

Mobility scooter

He told the BBC earlier: “How people should be looking at this is ‘Colin is worn out with having had this incredible progressive illness’.

“‘His death will give him release.'”

Mr Campbell uses a walking frame to move around his flat and a wheelchair when travelling outside his home.

He formerly worked in IT, still has use of his hands and plays the guitar.

However, he fears he will reach a point where he can no longer use his hands and will be unable to feed himself.

Since expressing his intention to end his life, Mr Campbell has been contacted by fellow MS patient Rona Tynan.

She has offered to help him seek appropriate help to improve his quality of life.

She said: “It was extremely important that I made contact with Colin and I’m so glad I saw him on the television.

“What alarmed me about Colin was, I felt he was more able than myself.

“I was very, very concerned that he’d made his decision when it was maybe horrible weather. The winters are long when you’ve got MS.”

Specialist nurses

Among the practical measures Ms Tynan has helped Mr Campbell with has been a test drive on a mobility scooter.

It is one of the things he said had prompted him to look again at his plans.

He said: “This has given me some kind of optimism which I definitely didn’t have – so I owe that to Rona.

“There are a lot of people that are forgotten who need a lot of help and are unaware that there is help.

“That’s when people like me think they’re off to Switzerland.”

A spokesman for NHS Highland said: “After diagnosis the support provided to our patients is tailored to suit their individual needs and is very much driven by them.

“Once MS is confirmed, each patient is contacted by one of our MS specialist nurses who goes through options and details the wider support that is available to them in the community.”