PIP reassessments letters a long way from the law

PIP reassessment letters always give a fixed timescale for claiming PIP despite Regulation 8 of the Personal Independence Payment (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2013 providing that the Secretary of State can extend DLA for any period she thinks fit.  And yet the reminder letters say, “We wrote to tell you that your Disability Living Allowance WILL END SOON” with no indication at all that the DWP can extend DLA if a claimant is struggling to claim PIP.   

And then the DWP always sets another fixed timescale for returning the wretched “PIP2” disability questionnaire – one month.  Regulation 37 of the Claims and Payments Regulations 2013 says the information or evidence requested must be provided, “within one month of first being required to do so or such longer period as the Secretary of State considers reasonable”.  And Regulation 8 of The Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) Regulations 2013, helpfully adds, “such longer period as the Secretary of State may consider reasonable in the circumstances of the particular case”.  

Furthermore the DWP does not even have to send out a “PIP2” at all because Regulation 37 of the Claims and Payments Regulations 2013 says, “The Secretary of State may require the person to supply information or evidence in connection with the claim…”.  So if it’s obvious that a severely disabled recipient of DLA would qualify for PIP they should just move them over.  This would apply in cases where severely disabled people are on the highest rates of both components and it’s obvious they would get the same on PIP.

Even more disturbing is the statement on the DWP’s standard letters that reads, “If you need help to fill in the form, you can ask a friend, relative or a local support organisation”.  It is the DWP that is obliged to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled claimants are not substantially disadvantaged by the PIP reassessments process.  It must be aware of the dramatic reduction in “local support organisation” capacity across the UK with the ending of legal aid for the vast majority of social security work and the reductions in funding for advice services generally.  The DWP has a Visiting Officer service but does not tell claimants about it.

The PIP reassessment process is yet another example of Officials ignoring the law in favour of their own fixed custom and practice.  It goes hand in hand with the routine disregard for the Equality Act duty to make reasonable adjustments. 

Claimants unable to comply with this regime due to disability who have their DLA stopped have a claim for compensation.  It's also possible to bring a claim for reasonable adjustments to avoid stoppages.