Complaints about disability benefit assessments up 6,000% in three years, figures show

From The Independent-

“The number of complaints to the government about its disability benefit assessment process has surged by more than 6,000 per cent in three years, prompting fresh concerns that the system is “flawed” and harming disabled people.

Government figures show 9,320 complaints were received about medical assessments for Personal Independent Payment (PIP) in the year to February 2019 – compared with 1,391 in 2016-17 and just 142 in 2015-16. 

This marks a surge of 570 per cent in two years and 6,463 per cent in three years – which campaigners said shows that the process is “completely inadequate” for disabled people. The overall number of PIP claims has risen by 67 per cent since 2016. 

The medical assessment process for PIP – a disability benefit that replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in 2013 – has come under mounting criticism from politicians and charities who say it is riddled with inaccuracies and forces disabled claimants to “fight” for the support they are entitled to. 

Thousands of refused claimants take their cases to court each year to appeal the decisions. Of these, 73 per cent go on to win their appeals at tribunal – casting doubt over the accuracy of decision-making. 

Jennifer Jones, 38, who suffers from myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and bipolar disorder, had been receiving DLA for around seven years when she was reassessed for PIP, at which point her high rate of daily living allowance was changed to the lowest rate, which she said led to a “huge reduction in support”. 

The single mother-of-two, who also suffers from fibromyalgia, which causes pain all over the body, said it meant she could not make simple journeys because she could no longer afford taxi fees. 

“When I was told I had to transition I assumed, like a lot of people did, that I’d be supported the same as before,” she said.'”

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