A disabled woman with severe autism has successfully challenged a cruel decision by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to halt her disability payments, and has been awarded with £13k worth in back-payments following a hard fought two-year long battle to have the decision over-turned.
Maureen Ringland, a mum of six and grandmother, and husband Alan, have spent the last two years fighting to get her Personal Independence Payments (PIP) reinstated by the DWP after Maureen was told that she failed to meet the qualifying criteria.
Maureen, from Birmingham, who suffers with severe autism alongside other health conditions including Reynaud’s Disease and Hypohidrosis, was reassessed for PIP by the private contractor Capita.
Maureen was informed by the DWP that she was ineligible for PIP and would lose her daily care allowance of £83 a week and a mobility allowance worth £58 a week.
“You look at her and she looks well, but her abilities are such that she cannot cope with simple daily tasks, she is very vulnerable”, said Husband Alan.
“There are so many people like Maureen with hidden disabilities.”
The couple challenged the decision but had to fight for two years before a Tribunal ruled against the original decision to halt her payments and ordered the DWP to reinstate and backdate her PIP benefit.
Maureen was awarded a total payout of more than £13,000, the Birmingham Mail reports.
Maureen was supported by Labour politician Jess Phillips, who has since welcomed the outcome and was among the first people to be thanked by the couple for her part in supporting their struggle for justice.
Alan said: “Jess and the team have been an amazing support, with us every step.
“The DWP and Capita who process the claims – and who originally ruled that Maureen did not qualify – really messed up and the impact on us was just awful.
“We can now pay back people who helped us out, and get back on an even keel. But I know we are not alone. There are thousands just like us.”
“I think they hope people will just give up,” said Alan.
A DWP spokesperson said: “We want people to get the support they are entitled to.
“The PIP assessment is designed to treat all health conditions and impairments fairly with decisions made based on all the information available at the time, including evidence from a claimant’s GP or medical specialist.
“In many successful appeals, such as Mrs Ringland’s, decisions are overturned because people have submitted more evidence.”
The DWP added: “We have considered the needs of people with hidden disabilities, including autism, in developing PIP assessments.
“As of July 2019, there were over 80,000 people on PIP where their primary disabling condition was recorded as being autism spectrum disorders, with 45 per cent of them receiving the top rate of support.
“Since PIP was introduced, 3.3m initial decisions following an assessment have been made to March 2019, and by June 2019 5% have been overturned at Tribunal.”