By Jodie Nesling
A pensioner who was ordered to attend a Department for Work and Pensions tribunal while battling cancer has had the decision reversed after The Isle of Thanet News intervened.
The 68-year-old from Ramsgate, who we have been asked not to name, also has other serious medical conditions assessors were aware of including lacking sight in one eye and all her teeth missing due to taking incorrectly prescribed medication, meaning she cannot eat properly.
Jo Wallace, a DJ from Ramsgate, is the pensioner’s power to act and says the long process has been inhumane and exhausting.
She said: “She has worked all her life, including at restaurants in Paris and in Broadstairs, paying her taxes and is treated this way. It’s disgusting. She was diagnosed with esophageal cancer on Christmas Eve. She also has a fractured spine and has not been able to eat solid food for two years.”
Jo has been fighting the DWP since October 2018 and says documents were frequently lost. She described her horror at reading the assessment report after requesting it and finding scores of inaccuracies.
The assessment for a PIP payment (Personal Independent Payment) was carried out at Canterbury by private contractor ATOS. Applicants are asked basic questions and they are then placed on a point scale to determine eligibility.
Jo said: “In the DWP report, they said she walked into the assessment with a normal gait. I pushed her in a wheelchair and she was wearing a TENS machine. The only way I can defend that statement is by requesting CCTV footage of me pushing her into the ATOS assessment in a wheelchair. They said she could stand and prepare food – all her food is prepared for her. They said her eyesight was functional.
“I have gone to Mandatory Consideration twice and advised them that she is too weak to go through with a tribunal. I got a letter back from the DWP stating that the whole matter has to be referred to the tribunal.
“I was crying on the phone through utter frustration. You could drive a bus through the inaccuracies. Reports have been sent directly to the claimant when the DWP are meant to send them directly to me. Twice, my address has been overridden manually and the senior complaints manager who rectified it twice was at a loss to know why this had been done.”
“Numerous phone calls to the PIP helpline have entailed a 40 minute wait and led to more frustrations.”
But, after The Isle of Thanet News contacted the department Jo received a phone call to say they had reversed the decision.
A spokesman from the DWP said: “We want people to get all the support they are entitled to. Ms XXX has been awarded the highest rate of PIP after we were provided with new evidence about a change in her condition.”
If you go on any of the facebook groups that help people going through these inhumane PIP and ESA assessments you will read of thousands of similar stories like this one. Most of the assessors just follow a script which is on their computers and most of that has nothing to do with the disability or illness the individual presents with. The observed walking in to the centre with a normal gait and a normal speed without pain, walking 80 meters is what they copy and paste to everyone’s report along with many other lies. They do not observe this at all. This is a scandal and the DWP know it is happening but have done nothing to halt it. It has been going on since PIP and ESA began. These assessments should be stopped as the DWP asks for evidence from your doctors and consultants in any case, which they are not reading but just relying on the fake reports sent from the assessment centres. ATOS was supposed to have not got another contract from the DWP many years ago but are still doing their fake assessments for our government. Ill and disabled people receive no dignity under the current regime but there is no will by any of the past or current minister responsible Justin Tomlinson to do anything about it. This scandal just keeps going with thousands of people not getting any satisfaction until they have their tribunal. The sorry state of this is that those assessors and decision makers are not medically trained to understand the problems brought to them, and many of those presenting with an illness are unable to articulate them sufficiently. It is been set up to fail those who need the help.
* It has been set up to fail those who need help the most.
I’m going through the same now we are waiting on a tribunal Ive been driven to attempting suicide with the different reports I’ve had that are false. Dwp and pip have had numerous calls if it wasn’t for my husband I wouldn’t be fighting anymore.
The DWP have put in a process that even Kafka couldn’t have dreamt up. An oppressive bureaucracy that is intended to make vulnerable people give up and stop fighting.
My PIP was stopped about 5 years ago, with one of the reasons given that I was observed walking normally and with no sign of disability; at my assessment in Ashford, I was in a great deal of pain that day, so walked from the car park with my stick, barely able to straighten my deformed spine and needing my husband’s assistance too. This was partly because of sitting in the car for the 40 minute journey from my home in Birchington. I have several problems with my spine including scoliosis, as certified by an eminent spine specialist consultant, making mobility difficult as well as other problems connected to my disability which affect daily life. At that point yes,I gave up, not wanting to go through the humiliation of another assessment etc. Also I was 66 years old at the time of this assessment, over the 65 age limit to try to apply again, so I decided to just get on with my life to the best of my ability with the help of my GP, so I’ve learnt to manage the pain and accept my limitations, having found steroid injections and acupuncture sessions, like oral analgesia, to be helpful but a temporary solution only. The assessment report was also full of inaccuracies like Ms XXX, which made me want to weep with anger and frustration. I am now happier than I was then and my life has turned around since that day.
Well done to that lady.
Pip goes straight to people who don’t deserve it and work the system. These con artists get new cars and go out partying in them (I personally know quite a few) People that are very ill disabled or near death get rejected again and again. Pip assessors are Tories at their worst.
You are exactly right in what you say.
Always the same read off a computer screen fill in the blanks any thing not correct make it up.
What does it matter to you after you have done your 36 hours go home start again Monday .
Answer the phone can’t be dealing with others problems got enough of my own leave them on hold maybe they will go away or someone else will pick it up they will be dead in a month as long as I get my beer tokens who cares
Yawn is it 4:30 yet
That’s it isn’t it they are not Doctors they are not interested , they have a time limit on how long they can talk once that’s up , take another call bin that one ,
If you put problems onto someone who doesn’t care that’s what you get ,
With a heart problem I went to the job centre for an interview with the Disabled expert ,
They sent me on an interview to a block paving company and stopped my job seekers allowance because I turned it down , I said I am 49 % Disabled they said we can’t see you limping or anything , I said I have lost a1/4 of my heart
I find it difficult to lift heavy things they said a paving block is not heavy I said a slab is .
Not their problem ,it’s the way of things now computer says no .
Interesting that they commented on a “change in her condition “
What would that be… code for we can’t own up to our negligent and inhumane abuse of the legal process??!! It makes me so cross! There are so so many of these cases that I’m ashamed to say I sometimes have to stop looking because it’s so frustrating and distressing. The most vulnerable people are least able to get help and you have to be pretty resourceful to fight this nonsense. If you were fit to fight it for the years it can take, you wouldn’t have needed the support in the first place! I despair!
My son was treated in the exact same way with his benefits being reduced considerably. I will not go into any detail but he has subsequently died, and in part due to the stress and debt this put him under. To say he became depressed is putting it mildly and shows how inhumane this corrupt system is to genuine claimants.
Heads should roll.
How awful that the Pip/DWP people made your poor son’s life so miserable and distressing by withholding the money he should have been entitled too, it’s disgraceful. Please accept my condolences on the death of your son, it’s a terrible, dreadful thing to have a child die before you, and so distressing.
I do hope every one of you posting here emails your MP to express your disgust.
And don’t vote Tory next time.
I have had assessment lately and turned down didn’t give me no scores and left out info about what I deal with so I just got pushed aside they not in it to help only to make you feel rubbish and felt not listened to at all.