photo credit: Lisa Norwood via photopin cc

In November last year I received notification of my Personal Independence Payment (PIP) award and disagreeing with the decision I contacted the DWP.

Due to the closeness to Christmas, the Call Centre staff member had put in my request for the assessment report and noted it was “my intention to ask for a Mandatory Consideration” (MR). This was so I would not run out of time if [the] post was caught up in the Mail.

I duly waited for my copy of the assessment report, which arrived on December 23rd and submitted my formal request for a MR along with the evidence on January 10th. Five days later I received a letter dated January 11th. It had clearly crossed with my own submission in the post and informed me the DMs had already carried out a MR and had, of course, upheld the original decision!

I duly phoned – well, actually my daughter phoned for me as I was screaming mad – the next working day. Nicki clearly informed them that when I had contacted them back in November, it was to request the assessment report, and on advice from the call centre staff member I was advising them I would be asking for a MR, to keep within the DWP time scale.

She went on to quote a DWP response to a FOI that states: “While a request can be made for a Mandatory Reconsideration by telephone or in writing, under no circumstance should an approach for advice be treated as a Mandatory Reconsideration request. However should this occur, any erroneous request can be withdrawn once the error has been identified and any subsequent requests would be dealt with on their own merit.”

The DWP call centre operator took down the details and said she would send an email to the decision maker (DM), this is apparently the only way call centre staff can communicate with the DMs.

The email requested they call me back and asked they review my initial phone call asking for my assessment report.

I waited to no avail until yesterday, when I received another letter stating. The DWP decision makers had determined my submission of evidence was a request to Appeal to Tribunal; this is despite the information in my reconsideration letter, the information taken during the phone call and their failure to phone me back!!

I immediately called them and spoke with a lovely woman at the call centre. She read the notes made, during the call with my daughter, and stated there were no further actions noted against it. She then, whilst still on the phone with me, emailed the DMs explaining the situation and requesting another call back. More importantly she advised me. I now must initiate the Tribunal process within the next 4 weeks or lose my option to do in future!!

So I had to find the energy to complete a Notice of Appeal and explain why a) it is out of time – it should have been completed within one calendar month of their MR and b) I am actually asking FOR a MR?!

Disabled people protest against the closure of the Independent Living Fund.
Disabled people protest against the closure of the Independent Living Fund.

I’ve also discovered I’m not alone in losing almost HALF my benefit in the transfer from DLA to PIP. I was SICK of the whole Carbuncle of Welfare Reform.

Now we await with trepidation the announcements of the next round of proposed £12bn in welfare cuts. We’ve already read of the possible taxation of disabled benefits and making it harder for sick people to claim state aid, by introducing “stricter” fit-for-work tests and/or tighter limits on eligibility – what’s next remains as yet unknown.

Related: Tories Could Cut Disabled Access To Work Scheme.

What I am convinced of, is it is time now for ALL of us affected by the discriminatory actions of the Tories to come together and Fight Back in Unity. Whatever campaigns, petitions, demos etc [are held], we must work collectively to complement each other in the Battle for Survival under a Tory Government.

Jayne Linney

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