Coronavirus implications no more face-to-face personal assessments

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Anyone summonsed for a face-to-face personal assessment for any benefit should now have the summons withdrawn by the DWP following Government Guidance about avoiding contact with other people to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.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.

DWP reasonable adjustments round-up

Here are some of the reasonable adjustments that Kester Disability Rights has got for disabled social security claimants over the last year:

  • A claimant unable to attend an assessment, and whom the DWP’s agent also refused to visit on the basis that he was allegedly dangerous, even though he was not, got his visit and was awarded PIP standard rate daily living and enhanced mobility accordingly.

  • An abuse victim had her work capability assessment modified to remove the personal assessment element that she found impossible to cope with.

  • A severely autistic and mentally impaired claimant had his DLA stopped because he could not cope with the PIP reassessment process. Upon reasonable adjustments being requested he was transferred to the highest rate of both components of PIP without a personal assessment.

  • A severely autistic woman with complex mental health issues was accused by the DWP of “failing to participate in a PIP assessment”. Upon reasonable adjustments being requested, a telephone call to her appointee, combined with a file review, resulted in an indefinite award of the highest rate of both components of PIP.

  • A man with paranoid schizophrenia who could not deal with the standard PIP reassessment process was transferred to PIP with the reasonable adjustment of a file review and telephone contact with a carer.

  • The ESA reassessment process was modified for a man who had been sectioned at least 18 times after the initial DWP decision was to reassess him by a personal assessment he was obviously unable to deal with. After consideration of further medical evidence that the DWP already had, he was exempted.

  • A victim of child sexual abuse with severe mental health problems arising from it was exempted from the work related activity they were unable to deal with because of their condition.

It's been a busy time and not without stiff resistance from the Government Legal Department on some cases, of which more later...