Virtually everyone Kester Disability Rights supports has increased vulnerability to coronavirus infection.
Anyone summonsed for a face-to-face personal assessment for any benefit should now have the summons withdrawn by the DWP following Government Guidance about avoiding contact with other people to reduce the risk of the virus spreading. This is the latest position from the Government.
For Personal Independence Payments (PIP) there is provision in the regulations for telephone assessments, which should now be standard if the claim cannot be decided by scrutiny of documentary evidence.
All Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit based on incapacity for work awards are indefinite (despite the DWP leading many claimants to believe they are time limited). It is therefore straightforward for the DWP to call off all reassessments.
For those subject to mandatory work-related activity, work search and so on this should also be suspended as it involves unnecessary social contact and the Government guidance suggests this is recognised..
There are also implications for those with reduced immunity scoring increased points for PIP under Activity 3 – Managing Therapy / Monitoring a Health Condition and this will depend on individual circumstances.
In fact, stopping any disabled person's benefits during the coronavirus outbreack cannot legitimately be done (if it ever could be) because of problems getting advice and support in the current circumstances. And because it would add entirely unnecessary additional stress to an already very difficult situation.
Deaths of claimants told to do things they obviously can’t do and having their benefits stopped for not doing them has not stopped the DWP carrying out unnecessary reassessments. But it looks like coronavirus is having an impact.