Is this relevant additional info for my PIP appeal

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Hi, long story short I’m awaiting an appeal date for PIP for anxiety, Panic attacks, PTSD and agoraphobia

For my mandatory reconsideration my work colleague ( Part Time Teaching Assistant ) wrote a letter of support for me detailing how much support I need at work. In short, She also stated that in her opinion I was only able to work due to my close links with the school,their understanding of my conditions and the adaptations made for me and that she felt I would be extremely disadvantaged if I needed to apply for work elsewhere. I have now been told my contract is not being renewed. I have tried to apply for other jobs and have been offered interviews but have not been able to attend due to my anxiety Disorders. 

In my original decision and and Mandatory Reconsideration decision my ability to work was used as a reason for me not to get points in descriptors. Even though my employment has ended after my Mandatory Reconsideration will the appeal tribunal accept this as further evidence due to my colleague having mentioned it. I’ve heard that only information relevant at the time of DWPs decision is considered and that if circumstances have changed this won’t be taken into account. 

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  • Posted

    Hi,

    This is more complicated than it looks and i'll do my best to try to advise you.

    It's true that a Tribunal can only take into consideration what you were like at the time the decision was made but whether this is relevant only to how your conditions affect you i'm not entirely sure of. I have never heard any stories like this before.

    People do claim PIP and work but if the job you do contradicts the reasons for your PIP claim, it will go against you and in a way that makes sense. Whether the work you did contradicted your reasons for your PIP claim i don't know because i don't know your circumstances.

    In your case the only thing that's changed is that you no longer work but they could turn around and say that because you did do that type of work then your conditions can't affect you as much as you say they do, if you see what i mean. Please don't take any offense by this, i don't mean anything bad by this i'm simply trying to give you an example.

    May i ask if you sent any other evidence other than that letter from your work colleague? Did you send evidence that shows how your condition affects you, like GP/Consultant letter, OT letter, Social worker letter etc?

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    • Posted

      Do you have anyone helping you with the Tribunal, for example CAB?
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  • Posted

    Hi Denise, 

    It’s all confusing me so I understand how it confuses you. 

    Basically my job was based in one classroom room with one teacher, who is actually a friend of mine and who helped me get the job as I was really struggling financially after my husband died. My hours were flexible due to my conditions and I had to take a lot of time off which I think contributed to my contract not being renewed. My main duties were helping to prepare resources for subjects such as music, art, sticking work into books or on displays in the classroom and to assist the children in these subjects. My social anxieties are communicating with adults as I seem to mostly be ok with children ( My career prior to suffering anxiety Disorders was working with children with special needs ). I’ve been told that there is a case law study regarding an applicants ability to communicate with children not being allowed to be used as a factor in the communicating descriptors, haven’t seen this myself. 

    Ive sent every single piece of information I have and I’ve received the pack from DWP but despite evidence in there that contradicts the decision makers reasons they’ve only referenced my f2f and the fact that I work in their reasons. My GP has confirmed I have difficulties in communicating with people, that I suffer panic attacks in public places, that I suffer agoraphobia, that I suffer from lack of concentration and motivation on a daily basis etc but the decision maker has not referred to any of this. 

    I feel like giving up, I have no more evidence to send, I’ve hunted my house for anything else I can send or think of more people I can ask to provide more supporting evidence but I’ve literally sent everything. I’m not getting any help, I had an appointment with CAB but had to cancel because I was in such a state on that day. 

     

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    • Posted

      Hi,

      Yes, i had a feeling it could be mental health to be honest. In my opinion just because a person suffers mental health is doesn't mean they can't still work, with support. Students claim PIP for mental health, yet they attend college with full support.

      You mention communicating with others, which is activity 7. Do you mean engaging with others face to face, activity number 9? There's a big difference in what both of these descriptors mean. Communicating with others is individuals who can't express or understand verbal information because they don't have the mental capacity to do so. So simple information would be " i would like a cup of tea please" complex verbal information would be " i would like a cup of tea, with a splash of milk and 1 sugar please. These are examples of what this descriptor means.

      Engaging with others face to face means, a claimant’s ability to engage with other people, which means to interact face-to-face in a contextually and socially appropriate manner, understand body language and establish relationships. When considering whether claimants can engage with others, consideration should be given to whether they can engage with people generally, not just those people they know well. So you see the difference is quite big.

      Please make sure you fully understand the difference in both of those descriptors.

      What other descriptors do you think you should score points in, if you don't mind me asking?

      I fully understand how stressful it all is but you have nothing to lose by continuing with the Tribunal. Did you score any points at all in your assessment? Is this your first PIP claim or review of an existing award?

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    • Posted

      It’s my first claim, I’ve suffered mental health issues for over 11years, after the birth of my second child but I’ve always muddled through and never felt I should apply for any benefit. 

      Things have dramatically in the last 2 years and the amount of support I need has escalated due to now suffering panic attacks and agoraphobia. Sorry about sending an essay but below is a copy of the descriptors I have asked to be looked at in my appeal. I was awarded 0 points in all on both my original claim and again at Mandatory Reconsideration. At the time I sent this I hadn’t seen the information given by my GP or CBT therapist so did not cross reference those. I have a friend who is good at form filling that did this for me xxx

      Preparing a Meal 

      I need supervision or assistance to either prepare or cook a simple meal. This is because I am unable to cook a meal on the majority of days as my anxiety disorders mean that I do not have the motivation or physical and 

      mental capacity to cook a meal. I have difficulties with concentration and lapses of memory due to the medications

      I take and the preoccupation of intrusive thoughts mainly relating to my health. I am unable to cook a meal on the 

      majority of days without risking the safely of myself or others, this is due to the physical and mental symptoms of 

      anxiety I experience most days such as shaky hands and legs, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, memory and 

      concentration lapses and fear. These symptoms effect my ability to prepare meals safely in two areas, 1) I forget 

      that I am preparing food or become preoccupied with intrusive thoughts and this has resulted in numerous 

      occasions where I have burnt food, set the grill on fire and burnt pans on the hob 2) I often drop pans, plates etc 

      as I can not control the sudden onset of  symptoms such as shakiness in my hands and legs, rapid breathing and 

      feelings of utter fear, this has caused me to cut myself when using sharp objects like knives or potato peeler.

      This is supported within the information and supporting evidence provided during my application for PIP, including 

      but not solely by my son Kieran Grant in the letter he provided for my mandatory Reconsideration. d. Needs prompting/supervision to be able to either prepare or cook a simple meal - 2 points   

      Taking Nutrition 

      I need prompting to be able to take nutrition as unless prompted to do so I forget to eat and will either not eat all 

      day or binge on multiple bars of chocolate and packets of biscuits at night time. I have difficulties with 

      concentration and lapses of memory due to the medications I take and the preoccupation of intrusive thoughts 

      mainly relating to my health causes me to forget to eat, to not feel hungry, to not have the mental or physical 

      energy or motivation to eat. My son prepares and cooks my meals and tries to ensure I eat every day. 

      This is supported within the information and supporting evidence provided during my application for PIP, including 

      but not solely by my son Kieran Grant in the letter he provided for my mandatory Reconsideration.  Needs – 

      (ii) prompting/ supervision to be able to take nutrition – 2 points 

      Managing Medications

      I need either supervision, prompting or assistance to be able to manage medication or monitor a health 

      condition as a failure to do so is likely to result in a deterioration in health. At present I take 200mg Sertraline 

      daily, 300mg Pregabalin daily, Zopliclone 7.5mg nightly, 20mg Omeprazole daily and up to 3 x 5mg Diazepam 

      daily nightly. I need supervision and prompting to take medications as I can not manage my medications myself 

      as I have difficulties with concentration and lapses of memory due to the medications I take and the preoccupation 

      of intrusive thoughts mainly relating to my health that means I forget to take my medications or forget if I have 

      taken my medications which has resulted in me missing doses of medication or taking too much. My son fully 

      controls my medications including the dispensing of my medications to me to ensure I have taken them and at the 

      correct dosage and monitoring my repeat prescriptions so that I do not run out of tablets. 

      This is supported within the information and supporting evidence provided during my application for PIP,

      including but not solely by my son Kieran Grant in the letter he provided for my mandatory Reconsideration. 

      Needs (ii) supervision, prompting or assistance to be able to manage medication (iii) supervision, 

      prompting or assistance to be able to monitor a health condition - 1 point

      Bathing and Washing 

      I need supervision or prompting to be able to wash or bathe. This is because my anxiety Disorders effect me 

      every day and make me too physically and mentally exhausted to wash or have the motivation to wash. I have 

      suffered panic attacks while alone in the house taking a shower. This has made me fear being in a locked 

      bathroom or have a shower unless there is another adult present in the house. Every day I am preoccupied with 

      intrusive thoughts regarding my health so have little concern over my physical appearance or personal hygiene. 

      I have difficulties with concentration and lapses of memory due to the medications I take and the intrusive thoughts that I forget to wash, brush my teeth or brush my hair. My son has to constantly remind me to wash or bathe otherwise 

      I would not have the motivation to do so. I often arrive at work having forgotten to brush my hair or teeth ( I have 

      asked my dentist to provide evidence for this appeal regarding my oral health  wink

      This is supported within the information and supporting evidence provided during my application for PIP, including 

      but not solely by my son Kieran Grant and my colleague Wendy Mitchell in their letters provide for my mandatory Reconsideration. Needs supervision or prompting to be able to wash or bathe – 2 points 

      Reading 

      I need prompting to be able to read or understand complex written information.This is because I have difficulties 

      with concentration and lapses of memory due to the medications I take and the preoccupation of intrusive

      thoughts mainly relating to my health that I can not concentrate on complex pieces of writing. My son reads letters 

      for me and helps me if I have to fill in forms because I get extremely anxious. I often do not open post and put 

      letters in drawers unopened as I am too anxious to open them or lack the motivation to open them. 

      If I try to read complex pieces of writing I get overwhelmed and do not read fully which means I miss important 

      pieces of information. My son and a friend have helped me with all aspects of my PIP application including filling 

      out forms, reading letters and the giving and receiving of information for my PIP application.

      This is supported within the information and supporting evidence provided during my application for PIP, including 

      but not solely by my son Kieran Grant in the letter he provided for my mandatory Reconsideration .Needs 

      prompting to be able to read or understand complex written information – 2 points

      Dressing and Undressing

      I need either prompting to be able to dress, undress or determine appropriate circumstances for remaining 

      clothed; or prompting or assistance to be able to select appropriate clothing. This is because I get too physically 

      and mentally exhausted from anxiety and too preoccupied with intrusive thoughts to dress appropriately and I 

      often stay in the same pyjamas for days at a time as I do not have the motivation to dress. 

      My son does the washing and ironing and ensures that on days I am working I have clean clothes ready as without this support  I would often wear dirty clothes from the floor. I have no concern how people see me, this was 

      evident during my face to face Independent assessment where I was still in my pyjamas when the assessor 

      arrived, as I had been so anxious at having to talk to someone I had never met before that I hadn’t been able to 

      get dressed. 

      This is supported within the information and supporting evidence provided during my application for PIP, including 

      but not solely by my son Kieran Grant in the letter he provided for my mandatory Reconsideration Needs either – prompting to be able to dress, undress or determine appropriate circumstances for remaining clothed; 

      or (ii) prompting or assistance to be able to select appropriate clothing – 2 points

      Engaging with Others

      I need prompting to be able to engage with other people. I am mostly able to engage with people I 

      know well such as my son and daughter and people who are aware of my conditions such as my GP and work 

      colleague but i am not able to engage appropriately or safely with people that i don't know without support as I 

      get extremely anxious and I suffer from physical and mental symptoms of anxiety. I have experienced panic 

      attacks at times when having to engage with people without support. I need support to build relationships with 

      people in order to be able to engage with them. 

      An example of this is that I am able to work due to the enormous amount of support that has and continues to be 

      given to me at work by close colleagues. This has included insuring that all staff are aware of my anxiety disorders

      and therefore understand if I leave early, am late coming in, do not think I’m rude if I do not speak to them and 

      understand why I am unable to socialise in the staff room at break times. I do not go out with or speak to friends 

      often as I feel safer in my own home and usually only speak to other people if they visit me at home however 

      there are many times that even when people do visit I am unable to appropriately engage with them due to the 

      high levels of anxiety I experience. I have difficulties with concentration and lapses of memory due to the 

      medications I take and the preoccupation of intrusive thoughts mainly relating to my health which effects my ability

      to hold long conversations as I easily forget words and what I am talking about. I travel by car in my local as I get 

      extremely anxious if I see people that know me or not as I get worried they will try to talk to me. I have found 

      applying for PIP an extremely difficult process as it has highlighted how much I rely on my son and how much my 

      anxiety Disorders effect me and how different I am from the confident person I once was. This was the reason I 

      made the decision to undertake my Independent assessment alone despite my son wanting to be there to support 

      me due to my difficulties in engaging with other people. I took 2 x 5mg of Diazepam prior to the assessor arriving 

      as I was extremely anxious about my assessment which was making the intrusive thoughts I was having relating 

      to my health worse and was causing mental and physical symptoms of anxiety. I was extremely distressed when 

      the assessor arrived but felt able to go ahead with the assessment when he told me he was a paramedic who had 

      suffered PTSD after leaving the armed forces as I felt he wouldn’t judge me and safer as due to being a paramedic

      he would be able to help me if I had a heart attack. Despite feeling calmer I regretted not having my son there for 

      support as I was extremely anxious throughout my assessment and struggled to remain focused having to ask 

      the assessor to repeat questions, I struggled to give my answers properly and repeatedly got upset as I was so 

      preoccupied with the mental and physical symptoms I was experiencing due to the intrusive thoughts I was having

      regarding my health that I could not communicate or engage properly with the assessor, this is one of the reasons 

      I made a complaint about the Independent assessment report given to the DWP as the report did not accurately 

      detail these facts . 

      This is supported within the information and supporting evidence provided during my application for PIP, Including 

      but not solely by my son Kieran Grant and my colleague Wendy Mitchell in the letters they provided for my 

      mandatory Reconsideration. Needs prompting to be able to engage with other people – 2 points

      Managing Budgets 

      I need prompting or assistance to be able to make complex budgeting decisions as I am unable to calculate 

      personal or household payments and can not manage the payment of bills. This is because I can not prioritise 

      payments and get confused as to what money I have and is coming in and going out. This has led me to make 

      bad budgeting decisions by either not have enough money left to pay bills due to over spending or forgetting to 

      pay bills that are not dealt with by direct debit. My son does a weekly online shop with Tesco delivery service, I 

      am unable to do this as I would often get anxious and overwhelmed with the complexity of the ordering system, 

      spend too much money on non essential items or forget to order things needed. I am getting support for a 

      gambling addiction caused by the isolation and low moods bought about from anxiety disorder which have led me 

      to build up large debts. My son tries to controls my finances by monitoring what money is coming in and out of my 

      account, arranging direct debit payments for household bills, paying bills not covered by direct debit  and doing 

      our weekly grocery shopping however I still at times make bad decisions by not opening post or acknowledging 

      bills that need to be paid, spending online or lending money to people which causes bills not being paid and me to 

      going over my overdraft limit. 

      This is supported within the information and supporting evidence provided during my application for PIP,including 

      but not solely by my son Kieran Grant in the letter he provided for  my mandatory Reconsideration. Needs 

      prompting or assistance to be able to make complex budgeting decisions – 2 points

      Following a Route 

      I cannot follow the route of an unfamiliar journey without another person, assistance dog or orientation aid. This

      is because I get confused and anxious in places I do not know as I get overwhelmed with feelings of not being 

      safe  and thoughts that people may try to talk to me which results in me experiencing mental and physical 

      symptoms of anxiety and Panic Attacks. I do not often undertake any unfamiliar route either on foot or by car 

      even with another person as I get so anxious at the thought of going somewhere that I can’t physically go. I have 

      suffered severe panic attacks when in public alone that has effected my ability to get help, to rationalise situations 

      and communicate, this has resulted in ambulances being called as people that do not know me do not understand 

      my conditions. I now often get anxious just at the thought of undertaking journeys even with the support of another 

      person. I can mostly undertake familiar short journeys that I have to such as going to work or to my GP surgery by 

      going in my car, however if I am undertaking journeys beyond my village I always have another person who 

      understands my anxiety Disorders with me to give me support and help me feel safe. If driving beyond my village I 

      always check my route online and use a sat Nav with live updates on road conditions, this helps to lower any 

      anxiety that can be caused by unexpected changes in routes. 

      This is supported within the information and supporting evidence provided during my application for PIP, including 

      but not solely by my son Kieran Grant in the letter he provided for my mandatory Reconsideration.This descriptor 

      has changed due to the changes made relating to people with mental health illness’s. I can not find an 

      updated descriptor. If removing the section regarding psychological distress then I believe I meet this 

      descriptor d. For reasons other than psychological distress, cannot follow the route of an unfamiliar 

      journey without another person, assistance dog or orientation aid – 10 points 

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    • Posted

      That's an awful lot of information to take in really. I do think that there are some descriptors that you don't fully understand what they mean.

      Taking nutrition is one example. You say if you're not prompted to eat then all you will eat is chocolate bars, crisps etc. For this descriptor The defined term ‘taking nutrition’ refers solely to the act of eating and drinking and so the quality of what is being consumed is irrelevant for the purposes of daily living activity 2. Therefore, if for any reason a claimant elects to have a bad or restricted diet, makes dietary choices or chooses to avoid certain foods as part of dietary requirements, they are nevertheless ‘taking nutrition’ to an acceptable standard and therefore will not score under activity 2.

      The rest of what's written is way too much information overload for me to deal with, i'm sorry. The work you did, may or may not go against you in some of the descriptors but i'm no expert. You say you've sent all the evidence you have so there's nothing more you can really do but wait for the Tribunal date.

      Are you appearing in person? This gives you the best chance of a decision in your favour as those that appear have a far better chance than those who opt for a paper based decision.

      I know it's really stressful waiting but hopefully you won't be waiting much longer. You can ring the Tribunal with your reference number and ask how much longer they expect it to be and they'll tell you.

      All you need to do is make sure that all the evidence that needs to be sent arrives with them no later than 10 days before the hearing date. Please don't take extra evidence with you on the day of the hearing because there's a chance it may not be used.

      My fingers are fully crossed for you and hope that a decision goes in your favour. Good luck and please do let us know the outcome.

       

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    • Posted

      Don't forget you'll also need to do a written submission for the hearing. This needs to be with the Tribunal no later than 7 days before the hearing.

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    • Posted

      Hi Denise, 

      Thank you for your advice and best wishes. I would do anything and have tried so many things to try to control my anxiety Disorders. I’ve never claimed any benefits before in my life ( although I was given widowed parents allowance after my husband died ). I would give anything to be the “ me “ I once was, I feel pathetic for being this way, although I’m learning to accept that mental illnesses are not a weakness within a person and that it can effect anyone. 

      I will keep you posted when I hear anything, many thanks

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    • Posted

      Hi,

      When you say you sent every single piece of information you had, do you mean medical evidence as well as the supporting letter from your son? Or do you mean information about mental health in general?

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    • Posted

      I mean medical evidence, letters from the mental health team and Lets Talk Service. On some of these they show my scores for anxiety, depression and how my conditions effect my ability to function on a daily basis. The last scores in Oct 2017 show I have severe anxiety, moderate to severe depression and the score for how my conditions show “ This score shows that Linsey’s conditions severely impact her on a daily basis and her ability to perform day to day tasks “. My application was made in January so my conditions hadn’t changed from that time. 
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