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“Susan”

“Susan’s” story- welfare benefits.

Case study created in Collaboration with the Bristol Law Centre with thanks to Nathan FitzPatrick and Thea Grattidge.

Susan, 52, has been on Disability Living Allowance (DLA) her whole life, due to an old back injury from a car crash when she was much younger.  Susan was on the medium rate allowance for care and higher rate for mobility. This was awarded due to the fact her back prevents her from moving about and performing necessary daily tasks like preparing food, getting herself dressed or going to the shops. She needs supervision throughout the day.

She relies heavily on physical, social and emotional support from her husband, but he is a worker in a local factory and works long nightshift hours. Her two adult children are away at University and have large government grants and loans. This means they are not often around to help care for their mother and cannot afford to come back and forth home. She orders groceries online but because she lives out of the city, delivery is often expensive.

The DWP have phased out DLA for individuals over the age of 16 and replaced it with Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which is divided into two components: daily living and mobility. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) sent Susan a letter explaining that her DLA claim would be converted to a PIP claim and that for this to happen she needed to fill in a new form about her conditions, as the criteria for the two benefits are different.

Susan did not receive this letter and was shocked to find that her payments had stopped. She rang the DWP to find out what the problem was, and they informed her that she needed to make a new claim. As a result of not receiving the letter, she missed a month’s payment, which she had always factored in to the household budget. 

Susan received  a new form to apply for PIP and filled it in. After a while (during which she still wasn’t being paid), she was sent for a health assessment. A couple of weeks after this, she got a letter saying that she only qualified for the standard rate of the daily living component and got no award for mobility. This means that she is receiving around £90 a week less than she received on DLA. Susan thinks this assessment is wrong and seeks to appeal. She thinks she should be entitled to the enhanced rate for both components of PIP, based on what she wrote on the form and what her pain specialist says.

Susan has heard that the DWP are often harsh with the assessment criteria for PIP and that their decisions are often overturned by tribunal judges. She wants advice on how she can appeal the decision and how long the process will take.

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