Around 3 months ago in September the one thing I have been dreading for the last few years finally landed on my letterbox. The dreaded Brown Envelope with the Letter from the DWP telling me my DLA is ending and I have 6 weeks to claim PIP.
I had DLA awarded in 1998, the award was made as indefinite which is effectively an acknowledgement that my health and mobility issues would never improve such that I would no longer need the help that DLA provides. I was awarded the Middle Rate of Care component and the High Rate Mobility. I use the High Rate award to lease a Car under the Motability scheme. I am on my 6th Car.
I completed the PIP form which took a few days as it is so difficult to get your head around some of the questions. I sent a Subject Access Request to Leeds NHS Trust to obtain my medical records and they said they would send them to me in 6 weeks. The Form was due to be returned before then, so I called the PIP help line and asked for a small extension to which they agreed. Sadly the day arrived when I had to return the form but the medical records hadn’t turned up, so I added a letter explaining that and that I would forward them as soon as they arrived.
10 Days later I got another letter telling me I had to go for an assessment in Pudsey near Leeds at Kingsway House on Richardshaw Lane.
I went to the assessment as directed during which I told the assessor my medical records had still not arrived. She accepted that fact and said she would agree that the information I had submitted in regard to the numerous health issues I have would be accepted as a true record and not disputed. Which to be fair is a reasonable course for them to take.
The assessment wasn’t unpleasant she seemed personable and polite and I answered all her questions as best I could. It came almost to the end and she asked if I would undertake some physical tests and an examination? I declined and explained that I am in pain and that physical activity would exacerbate that pain. She reluctantly accepted that but seemed a little annoyed. I then left and went home, the whole assessment took around 40 minutes.
6 weeks later (last week) I got the results of the assessment and the award notice. I had been awarded Standard Care and Standard Mobility.
This meant that my High Award of DLA was being reduced by 60% I could no longer lease a car. I would effectively be made housebound, a prisoner in my own home. The consequences of this are not just my day to day living but it seriously affects my access to my Health professionals most of whom are located in Leeds which is over 12 miles from my home. My disabilities affect how far I can walk, which is around 10 to 12m before pain affects my lower legs and I have to stop. I also use a Mobility Scooter which is stored in the back of the Car, the batteries are charged as I drive or can be charged in the house.
I use this when I go shopping or attend Hospital Appointments in Leeds, I take it with me in the car, lifting it out using the electric hoist, and off I go. I simply wouldn’t be able to get to Hospital or move around inside the building without it.
The Report and Award
I went through each section of the report and looked at how each element had been scored
For the Care Element I had been awarded 11 points in total, which was also the same score I arrived at but for different reasons. That said I accept that the care award reflects my needs and won’t be challenging it.
Mobility, now here is the problem, I was awarded 10 points for this element which fall 2 points below the 12 I need for the Higher award to keep my Mobility Car.
I had made it clear on the PIP form I submitted that I could not walk more than 10m never mind the 20+ that the descriptor stated, I also reiterated this at the assessment interview. Stating clearly that walking caused me pain such that I had to stop and rest every 10 to 15 paces, yet her own assessment and report stated that I could walk 30m and had done so during the time I was at the centre, she further stated that I walked to her office a distance she said was 30m
Whilst I am reluctant to call someone a Liar, I can find few ways to describe what
she said that doesn’t say that. To be kind I would suggest she has made an error in estimating the distance that I walked.