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I’m embarking on a very loaded topic today…(drum role please….) we’re going to be tackling….Personal Independence Payment appeals! aaaaaggggghhhhhhhh!!! This blog definitely classes PIP and PIP Appeals as Life Lemons, so let’s bounce them around, break them down and own their asses. For many of us the topic of PIP fills us with absolute dread. I’ve gone through this painful process, and appealed my initial award, working on my case with an awesome legally-qualified CAB representative and winning my appeal at the 1st Tier Tribunal. As such I want to share with you all that I learnt about this potentially intimidating experience through a series of blog posts, shedding some light on the whole thing, downgrading that intimidation into a set of manageable blobs, and spreading some vital knowledge about how to present your case in the best way you can.
So firstly, let’s cover a bit of background to this appeal malarky: There are up to 3 steps to an appeal of your PIP award; Mandatory Reconsideration, Appeal to the 1st Tier Tribunal, and appeal to the Upper Tribunal. At any stage they may award you what you deserve. And they might not. My advice is to see the whole process as an interesting (questionable adjective?!) ‘journey’ rather than piecemeal refusals for the reasons I’m going to be covering in Part 2 of this blog series. For us, it’s an emotional rollercoaster. To them, it’s just numbers, and the lower their numbers the more content they feel. So (and I cannot vouch to have ever gotten over this part, but…) it does not reflect on you, or what you deserve, or their apparent dismissal of your very real hardships. Keep it in the ‘bureaucracy’ and ‘process’ box people. Nowhere near your ‘my sense of worth and aceness’ box, nor the bin of voodoo dolls you’ve made of ignorant or arrogant idiots you’ve had the misfortune to cross paths with (at least, not until the end of the process. Then sew away!).
You must have requested a mandatory reconsideration from the DWP, and it reach the DWP within the time limit of 1 month from the date of your award letter, before proceeding to appeal (if needed). So if you are not satisfied with the DWP’s decision, get that Mandatory Reconsideration request in very tout suite! If you get a response of no change to your awarded points, and especially if this happens spectacularly quickly, do not get downhearted – these refusals seem to be standard for a lot of people and from my experience don’t reflect on the strength of your case.
Appeal to the First Tier Tribunal:
A tribunal is completely separate from the DWP. Their job is to look at the evidence from both sides as an independent party. I’d recommend submitting an appeal even if it’s just to get your hands on your PIP records from the DWP. Your file contents make for a very interesting (used that adjective again, feel free to hit me) read with no strings attached – you can pull out of the tribunal process at any time up until your hearing. Also, even if you don’t feel up to the process at the moment, getting yourself in the system within the deadline means that you will then have quite a few weeks to umm and arrh over what you want to do. Time is a great healer as they say and may well strengthen your resolve. In summary, you don’t loose anything by submitting an appeal to the tribunal service. If you’re ready to get the ball rolling, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) has a summary of what to expect and the Benefits and Work website has a wonderfully comprehensive guide that includes example appeal submissions. Either before or after you submit your appeal to the tribunal service, I’d highly recommend looking into getting some representation, from, for example, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) or a Law Centre.
Appeal to the Upper Tribunal:
If you believe the 1st Tier tribunal made a mistake in their application of the PIP criteria in terms of the law, you can then take your appeal to the upper tribunal. This is where the ‘meat’ happens. Any rulings at this level can and should be adhered to by judges at 1st Tier tribunals. It’s well worth keeping up to date with any Case Law rulings in preparation for your own lower or upper tribunal case. These rulings represent the current interpretation of the PIP award criteria. Often these rulings can be in your favour, but occasionally they can be detrimental. Again, I’d highly recommend getting some representation if you take your appeal to the upper tribunal.
So now that we’re savvy with the different steps involved, we’re ready to move to part 2, my top 12 tips for appealing your PIP award, which I will be posting in a week’s time.
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