I am not sure whether this query should be in this section or under the Disability benefits discussion board. Involves FTT appeal procedure and PIP criteria.
Bit of a disaster this afternoon at a telephone hearing and need to clarify how things should work as I have never been in a situation like this.
In brief: the client has a number of complex health conditions including Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder, Reflex Autonomic Dysfunction and Chronic fatigue syndrome. She struggles day to date to deal with a number of symptoms. She has been receiving standard rate daily living and mobility since 2014 but has always thought that the descriptor points were not high enough to reflect her actual day to day. She was reviewed by DWP in line with RJ/MH in 2019. No points change. A few months later, a general PIP review, no points change.
She has been waiting for an appeal hearing for years as it keeps on being postponed. The appeal on the general PIP review took place last October. The PIP award went up (mobility) and remained the same for daily living. Due to an error in the interpretation of activity 3, which we raised it was set aside. I made representations to re-hear this appeal and the RJ/MH appeal together. That was accepted, a date set, then postponed. Finally heard today.
The hearing kicked off with the doctor asking questions about her condition. He says he is a specialist in this area. There was then a break while the tribunal discussed (they told us rom the beginning that they were going to do this). They came back saying the appellant was put on notice that if she pursues the appeal she is likely to get a reduction in points because the doctor thinks that one aspect of her health issues means that there are no risks in relation to safety anymore and that means a lower award.
However the appellant doesn’t accept that he has understood her condition and has many other health issues/needs in relation to the descriptors and other reliability factors apply (to an acceptable standard, repeatedly, within a reasonable time scale etc).
We were put on notice and given no further chance to explore the issues we raised as part of the appeal.
For my part, I am miffed. Would never have suggested she pursue it if I thought there was a risk of loosing. Her health conditions are really complex and her symptoms overwhelm her day to day life.
It has now been since 2014 battling to get her a factually and legally correct PIP assessment.
She is now in the position where she either withdraws or goes ahead. We will be getting a notice in the post.
So can I be clear:-
– If she withdraws now, she keeps her PIP award even though it is not quite correct
– Will the DWP see that she has withdrawn and why, then use as an excuse to review her?
– If she chooses to go ahead, will it be in front of the same panel?
– Any possibility at this point to raise concerns about the conduct of the doctor/judge?
Any thoughts gratefully received.