It’s arrived …. I’ve been waiting for it since 2013. This time it wasn’t Royal Mail’s infamous tardy service, more a case of good idea failing as soon as it was put into practice.
I’m talking about the DWP migrating Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment (PIP). As DLA was a benefit claimable from birth to 65 years old there have been many changes in policy, administration, review process, awards criteria during its life time, as well as medical progress with many conditions. I fully supported the need for a major review and reassessment of claimants to make things more even across all spectrums, but it was obvious that the incentive behind it was to reduce the benefit bill and ‘move’ people into work. The DWP in its ‘wisdom’ out-sourced this mammoth task to a company called Capita (also ATOS) who tendered a two year time table, an assertion of numbers of claims rejected/stopped and the minimal number of staff needed. Many of us would have seen news reports and media articles about disabled people being forced to seek work when they obviously are not able to work, as well as reports about how slow and bogged down the switching process has become, reports of Capita/ATOS staff going off sick with stress and depression, the poorly trained or qualified staff making medical decisions, the number of award decisions being appealed and subsequently awarded at a higher rate. Generally the whole business has been something of a debacle.
Now it is my turn. The brown envelope dropping on my door mat on Friday 12th was the letter informing me that my DLA award would be ceasing unless I began a PIP application within the next three weeks and that I should telephone the claim line with a list of information required.
Taking a couple of days to calm down and amass all the health professionals business addresses and telephone numbers I waited to call on Tuesday 16th. It’s never good to telephone bureaucracy on a Monday in my opinion. A twenty minute phone call where the lady zipped through her well worn script began the process. Now to wait for the heavier brown envelope containing the forms to arrive sometime within the next two weeks, or I telephone them.
The nail biting aspect is how to get across to the claim processor exactly what my limitations are with the evidence I can provide. DLA/PIP is a ‘gateway’ benefit, it is a primary indicator of a persons circumstances which means additional premiums are added to other means tested benefits (like Council Tax Benefit, Housing Benefit), for me that has no bearing because I’m not receiving such benefits, but for many it is their everything. Copious notes, copies of documents and records will need to be kept of the whole process just in case I need to question things or appeal a decision at a later date.
I’m off to the Gov.uk site to download a copy of the form coming and the assessors information, to educate myself.
So it begins…..