Reform the disability PIP assessments for people with the A word
This petition had 337 supporters
I want to tell the story on behalf of two people, with the same disability, whose PIP, or Personal Independence Payment, reports and outcomes were totally different. This petition is anonymous because the claimants cannot cope with the additional anxiety and stress of being named.
I recently attended assessments for both claimants. One received 14 points and is therefore now in receipt of PIP. The other person with exactly the same condition received NO points at all.
Both are diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, which is an autistic spectrum disorder.
Both were born with this highly complex, incurable and debilitating condition.
Both, therefore, have a social communication and developmental disability, very often accompanied by poor mental health.
Both suffer from associated problems of depression, paranoia, OCD, anxiety and stress.
Both have the same problems with engaging with people face to face, verbal and written communication, dressing and undressing, bathing and washing, preparing food and planning and following journeys.
So why the vast difference in the outcomes?
I witnessed two very contrasting face to face interviews within the space of just six weeks. The difference between these two experiences was astonishing.
1) There was variation between the scripts and the questions covered.
2) There was a tremendous difference in the knowledge, experience and understanding of autism.
3) The atmosphere and approach in the second assessment was noticeably less understanding.
The two outcomes completely reflected these variations. One received NO points at all and the other 14. One now receives PIP and the other does not.
I also want to tell you about the steps in arriving at a decision:
FIRST: The face to face PIP assessment with the 'Disability analyst', on which the final and decisive outcome appears to be determined.
1) This PIP assessment took forty five minutes.
2) It was conducted by someone who did not know the person being interviewed, a real problem for people on the autistic spectrum.
3) It was carried out by someone who appeared to have little or no knowledge, experience or training in autistic spectrum disorder.
4) It was conducted by someone seemingly with no concept of how to carefully structure questions, communicate or interact with a claimant with autism.
5) The assessor's report, unseen by the claimant, is then sent to the DWP to confirm the decision.
IN CONTRAST: The other evidence, which appears to count for nothing, was provided by a number of sources who know the individuals well. A close family member with thirty years experience of this lifelong, incurable disability, and additional input from autism and health professionals.
1) A PIP questionnaire was completed by both, with help, because of the inherent communication issues. In the case where NO points were awarded, this was by the designated advocate, a very close relative.
2) It took considerable time and effort filling in the many pages of this PIP form with the claimants concerned, making sure the information was detailed, accurate and truthful.
3) Supportive evidence from professionals was provided for the diagnosis of Asperger's, and a number of associated mental health issues. Many people on the autistic spectrum suffer poor mental health, such as severe anxiety, stress and depression.
4) All this took considerable time and effort from all the people concerned in order to truly reflect the significant level of impairment.
5) We filled in each different section of the form to clearly describe the high degree of incapacity of each claimant to complete the tasks.
YET, by awarding NO points at all, that information appears to be:
1) Totally negated in one case, and endorsed in the other.
2) Judged true in the first and false in the other,
3) Suggesting the claimant is legitimate in the first and a liar in the other.
This is very distressing and offensive to everyone concerned. I have therefore emailed ministers and started this petition because I want to know:
1) How two people with the same diagnosed disability and associated mental health issues can receive such contrasting PIP assessment outcomes?
2) How a claimant's mental health can be assessed accurately and appropriately in under an hour?
3) ALL people with autism are being fairly treated.
In the light of my personal concerns, the very serious issues highlighted in the Dispatches programme 'The Great Benefits Row' (Channel 4, 11 April 2016), please sign this petition and the fact there is a debate in Parliament on Thursday 28.04.16. PLEASE SIGN MY PETITION and send to all your friends and relatives. Disabled people with autism are people too.
Please join me in calling on the new minister for the Department for Work and Pensions(DWP), Stephen Crabb and the Government to carry out an urgent review into the whole PIP assessment system for people on the spectrum..
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