So scared and nervous about my PIP assessment on Thursday

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Morning all,

I write this in complete fear of Thursday.

I have had an assessment before when i was a child when i received DLA but i didnt have to go to a centre, it was at my house and i had to show my walking distance.

This time im going it alone and do not know what to expect.

Im very embarrassed about my condition, Achondroplasia (Dwarfism) so having to speak about it to a stranger and how it effects me in my everyday life is very shameful and upsetting for me.

Does anyone know what i am to expect? My assessment is in Langley.

Thank you.

Regards,

Natalie

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  • Posted

    First of all, please, please don't go alone.  You need a family member or friend present to make sure you get a fair hearing and to prompt you where appropriate. It's never a good idea to attend these things without a witness to what goes on.

    Secondly, hopefully you have kept a copy of your application form, so study it properly and make sure you are clear on what you have written because your assessment will be based on what you have said.  It's very important to remember that anything you put on the form which is not discussed at the assessment will not be counted towards the points scored - so if, for example, you need a particular type of help and you have detailed it on the form, but you subsequently forget to mention it at the assessment, it will not appear in your condition history on the assessment report, and will not be considered by the decision maker.  So make sure you tell the assessor absolutely everything, no matter how embarrassing you find it - I guarantee you won't be telling them anything they haven't heard before.

    You will be watched from the minute you get in to the minute you leave - this is called informal observation, and the assessor does this to identify any behaviour or movement inconsistent with what you are reporting about the effects of your disability.

    The assessment will start with your condition history and any medication you take, then the assessor will ask you to describe our typical day.  The assessment then goes on to assess the specific activities in the daily care and mobility categories.

    It's also worth remembering that the distance between the waiting room and the assessors room will measure at least twenty metres, so if you can walk it seemingly with no problems, then you will not qualify for the enhanced rate of the mobility component. 

    For each activity, the law says you must be able to complete that activity safely, in a timely manner (less than twice the normal time taken by a non disabled person) without undue pain or discomfort, and to an acceptable standard, so if you have difficulty with any of the things assessed it's vital that you tell the assessor what it is and why.  Also, assessors are fond of suggesting aids and appliances because these score lower points than having help from another person, so if you cannot use a particular aid, say what it is and why you can't use it. Similarly, if you  have an aid and still require help, say so and say why.  A very important point particularly for yourself, if you are short in stature, is the cooking test.  The law says that the actual cooking of a simple meal should be carried out at waist height, using a conventional hob or microwave - the use of a conventional oven is discounted.  The preparation - peeling, chopping etc, can be done lower down, at a table for example, but the cooking is specific to waist height.  I would imagine the only way you could achieve this is with a high perching stool, but since you are short in stature you would probably need help to get on and off one, and there would be a serious health and safety issue, since your feet would probably not touch the floor even with the stool on its' lowest setting.  All of this needs to be brought to the attention of the assessor.

    Finally, the legislation says that there is no time limit on the assessment - each case is different and the time taken will vary.  In practice assessors are limited to 45 minutes. Make absolutely sure you are not being rushed and if the assessor attempts to cut short your answers, insist you be allowed to finish your point.  This might sound difficult, but oh need to make sure the assessor understands your difficulties and they cannot do this unless you explain them in full.  Also, at the end of the interview, the assessor is supposed to go over their answers with you to make sure you agree with what they have written.  In practice, a lot don't, and since not all claimants are aware that this is their right, they are usually not challenged.  Ask to see what is written and make it clear you know this to be your right.  The alternative is an assessment that may not accurately reflect what you have said, and that will lead to an inappropriate award, which you will then have to challenge.  If there is anything else you want to ask before your assessment, please do and I'll help if I can.

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    • Posted

      An excellent all round post taking on board all of the difficulties that claimants face at an assessment.
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    • Posted

      I agree with Les an excellent response and Natalie you should read it several times. I would also urge you to take someone with you but if that is not possible then still go, just be extra vigilant over your answers.

      I agree with Pam about the preparing a meal descriptor and you should be targeting 4 points from that one as you need assistance rather than the use of an aid for the reasons already mentioned.

      You should also be targeting 2 points from assistance with washing/bathing (need help to reach the shower head safely and possibly getting into and out of bath safely). You need a further 2 points to qualify for standard care which could come from need an aid to get on and off the toilet or needs prompting to engage with others. For that though you would definitely need someone with you.

      Best of luck and remember the worst that can happen is they turn your claim down.

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    • Posted

      I was going to go on my own as my sister who was going to come with me now cannot come, now my mother will be coming which will be even more embarrassing saying all i need to say in front of her.

      ?I have my meals cooked for me when time isnt on our side otherwise i will use a chair as the cooker comes to just above my chest. I am watched while im on the chair as i have fallen before and dropped the pan and burnt a hole in the floor rolleyes

      ?For the bathroom i had a walk in shower put in as i cannot get in and out the bath safely, I also need help washing my back as my arms only go to my shoulder blades. I have a step for the toilet otherwise i have to jump backwards to get on the toilet and that isnt easy when i suffer with lumber back pain. I use a step so i can step up to the toilet and so my feet are on a flat surface so i am balanced, I can just about wipe from behind (sorry to be graphic). Im always out with someone as im always holding onto that person, I am always in pain with my thighs, legs and back but it does get worse alot worse if i go more then 20 metres, i have to stop constantly.... Its harder when it isnts a flat ground.

      ?I dont engage with others unless they talk to me because im always worried people will be nasty towards me because of what i am, thats through bad experiance.

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    • Posted

      Perfectly understandable that you would find even averaged sized people as intimidating never mind 6'3'' 20 stone monsters like me!

      You have described to us your issues well now go with confidence and do the same with the assessor and make your point!

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  • Posted

    Hi pam,

    Good letter, also of interest to me. DLA mc hm at moment and waiting for dreaded pip assessment letter, anytime in the next 24 months .

    Such a shadow hanging over our heads, then having to cope with other things happening. I know that it is public money, I know it's not a God given right, but it is nevertheless mental torture to all of us genuine claimants wronged because of a few chancers.

    Mike.

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    • Posted

      From the DWP's point of view they have no idea who are genuine and who are not - hence why there is this 'big changeover'.

      ?I believe that most people would welcome this intervention to ensure that the not so genuine are found out.

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    • Posted

      I agree with you and I welcome the assessments because it rules those out who are not genuine, just scary as I don't know what to expect.

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    • Posted

      I understand your worry Mike but there is no point in refering to 'chancers' because none of us know who is a 'chancer' with any certainty.

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    • Posted

      The big problem with PIP is that an awful lot of genuinely very disabled people are suffering because they do not fit the new descriptors which are drawn deliberately narrowly so as to screen out high levels of need.  PIP was designed to save money across the board - not just to rule out those who were trying to scam the system, and it's taken income away from those in genuine need.  

      There are some very dodgy and ill informed comments on here about fraudulent claimants.   There was a very successful campaign run by the Cameron/Clegg administration, which suggested that a high level of disability benefit claimants were fraudsters and that the benefits were too easy to claim.  That's the excuse they used to scrap DLA and introduce PIP.  They were later forced to admit that disability benefit fraud was less than 0.5% including errors on the part of the DWP.  Later still, when the first wave of migration of claimants from DLA to PIP bore out this fact, and didn't result in the savings they wanted, they tried to tighten the PIP rules even further and were caught out when even Tory MPs rebelled.

      PIP wasn't introduced because of 'scammers'.  It was introduced because every successive government since DLA  replaced mobility and under 65 attendance allowances (interestingly enough by the then Tory administration)  has wanted to scrap it for various reasons and replace it with a less generous system.  The Cameron/Clegg administration were successful because they did so ruthlessly and against a backdrop of austerity.  So before we get too self righteous about the scammers we've thwarted we should remember the high number of genuine losers under PIP - lest we start to believe the governments' favourite rhetoric, that 'all disabled people are scroungers'. 

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    • Posted

      I don't Les.  It's designed to save money across the board and discriminates against very severely disabled people who don't easily fit the descriptors.  Also, the amount of fraud going on was never enough to warrant this major overhaul - all that was needed was a tightening up of DLA regulations, but that would never have made the kind of savings the government wanted. 

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    • Posted

      Hi Anthony,

      What would you call them?

      The point is that the majority are being assessed for their disabilities, as is their right.

      But, because a minority of claimants are fraudulently trying to claim then the rules are changed.

      This makes it more difficult for genuine claimants who, unless they can understand and describe their symptoms and limitations in the terminology requested, face losing out all together.

      Or, do you genuinely believe that a disabled person taking morphine for pain, has onset dementia and cancer to contend with will be able to claim pip from dla, successfully

      Mike.

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    • Posted

      Or, do you genuinely believe that a disabled person taking morphine for pain, has onset dementia and cancer to contend with will be able to claim pip from dla, successfully

      ?Nope, whatever drugs you are taking has nothing to do with how you are awarded under PIP.

      ?Apart from the cancer, I have Chronic Pancreatitis instead, when I did a check to see what I could have got out of PIP when moving from HRM & MRC DLA, were 4 points for care only. For that reason and being totally p***** off with the whole set up, I didn't even bother asking for a MR never mind making inroads towards an appeal - I just let the DWP think that what they did was the right thing.

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    • Posted

      There are an extremely small amount of claimants who defraud the system; otherwise the jails would be full of benefit cheats.

      Don’t you see that making those comments damages the perception of the disabled in the eyes of the general public? If they hear disabled people stating that the system is full of ‘chancers’ then they are bound to call for more draconian benefit reform even though the problem is not fraud its failure to provide proper support for the sick and disabled.

      We help no-one by falling for the Government’s rhetoric.

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  • Posted

    Did you manage to change your appointment for somewhere closer to home? Pam has given you some excellent advice and there isn't really anything else i could add to that. Good luck and please let us know the outcome.

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