Our pro bono team successfully assisted our client, Jesse, after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) informed him that his personal independence payment (PIP) award was ending.
Jesse had been receiving PIP in relation to his ill health following a serious car accident in August 2019 that has left him with life-changing injuries, including a brain injury and a spinal cord injury.
Assessment of PIP claims
PIP is made up of two parts, daily living activities and mobility activities. To receive PIP, an individual has to be suffering from a physical or mental condition that limits their ability to carry out some or all of the daily living and mobility activities. The DWP will assess how an individual’s ill health and disabilities limit their ability to carry out these activities and any help they need with them. A standard rate of PIP is paid if a person’s ability to carry out activities is assessed as limited, and an enhanced rate is paid where a person’s ability to carry out activities is assessed as severely limited.
The DWP has a set list of 10 daily living activities and two mobility activities. A person’s ability to carry out each activity is measured against statements called descriptors, which describe what a person can or cannot do. You must be able to carry out the activity safely to an acceptable standard as often as reasonably required and in a reasonable time period.
Each activity is worth up to 12 points. If a person scores between 8 and 11 points for daily living/mobility activities, PIP will be paid at the standard rate in respect of each part. If they score 12 or more points, PIP will be paid at the enhanced rate in respect of each part.
Jesse received an unexpected phone call from PIP in April 2020, during which he was asked questions about his health and disabilities at the time. It transpired that this phone call was a review of his PIP claim, and the DWP decided to stop his award from 5 August 2020 based on the answers he gave.
In addition to his physical injures, Jesse has suffered from poor mental health since his accident and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. This means that Jesse struggles to talk to others about his physical and mental health conditions. This is significant as he was not able to adequately answer the questions he was asked during the telephone review of his PIP. Jesse was also unable to challenge the decision to end his PIP award by himself as the circumstances had exacerbated his mental health symptoms so much.
Telephone-based assessments have largely replaced in-person meetings since the introduction of social distancing measures due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This was detrimental in Jesse’s case as his mental health issues and disabilities are largely invisible and completely undetectable over the phone, particularly to someone who does not know him.
Senior paralegal Ralph Johnson assisted Jesse with his request for a mandatory reconsideration after he missed the original deadline. He worked with Jesse to provide a good reason for the delay and a detailed description of how his disabilities severely affect his ability to carry out the DWP’s prescribed daily living and mobility activities.
While the DWP accepted the late mandatory reconsideration request, their initial response was that they would not change their decision. Ralph then helped Jesse prepare for the next step, an appeal to an independent tribunal. Just as Jesse was about to submit his appeal, he was contacted again by the DWP. They informed him that they had changed their decision and were awarding him higher rate PIP for both the daily living and mobility components.
Testimonial from Jesse
“I was pointed to Stewarts while I was recovering from a life-changing car accident that left me with debilitating injuries alongside crippling trauma and depression. As you could imagine, one of the last things that I could handle by myself was dealing with my PIP application.
“The paralegal assigned to me, Ralph Johnson, was a breath of fresh air. He was empathetic and understanding to me throughout what was a long and arduous struggle to reclaim PIP. He made the whole process a lot easier to deal with.
“Ralph’s expertise was absolutely invaluable to me in navigating a legal minefield. He very clearly and precisely told me what my options were and what the pros and cons were to either approach. This gave me the confidence to proceed, and he helped me every step of the way.
“My family and I are forever grateful to him and would definitely recommend Stewarts to anyone else who is going through similar hardships. We wish him every success in his future endeavours.”
The Legal Service – We are here to help
The Legal Service, delivered by our pro bono team, provides patients with advice without obligation, for however long it takes to resolve the issue. Our support is available regardless of the circumstances of an accident and regardless of whether a patient has a personal injury claim.
In these difficult times, the concerns of our pro bono clients are likely to be more stark than those in more fortunate circumstances. The Legal Service will available throughout the crisis to help in any way we can to ease the burden on our clients.
To get advice from The Legal Service, please contact Kara Smith by phone on 020 7822 8000 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find further information regarding our injury expertise, experience and team on our Personal Injury pages.
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