Over 1000 disabled people in Falkirk win tribunal benefit payments appeals
More than 1000 disabled people in Falkirk have taken the Government to tribunal over benefit payments and more than half won, figures show.
Disability charities say that the latest data proves the Government’s assessment process is not fit for purpose.
Between April 2013 and the end of 2020, the Department of Work and Pensions assessed 12,850 applications for Personal Independence Payment from people in the area – 72% resulted in an award being granted.
The benefit – which is not means tested – covers the additional expenses faced by those with disabilities and is worth between £23 and £150 a week, depending on an individual's needs.
The application process, described by Disability Rights UK as complex and stressful, sees most claimants meet with a DWP assessor who evaluates their care and mobility needs as part of a points-based system.
If the applicant is unhappy with the outcome, a mandatory reconsideration can be requested, which sees the DWP review the decision.
In Falkirk, around one in six awards taken to that first appeal stage were changed.
Since 2013, 1240 people have escalated their cases further and challenged the DWP at a tribunal, with an independent panel overturning the Government's decision in 480 (56%) of those cases.
Louise Rubin from Scope described PIP as a vital financial lifeline, estimating that day-to-day living can cost over £500 a month more for those with disabilities.
But she said the assessment process was fundamentally flawed, adding: “If the DWP got more decisions right first time, fewer disabled people would go through a lengthy and stressful appeal process to get the vital support they need.”
A DWP spokesman said: “We are committed to ensuring that people get all the support they are entitled to and in the vast majority of cases there isn’t an appeal as we make the right decision, first time.
“When someone disagrees with a decision we will, where necessary, contact them to get further information so decisions can be thoroughly reviewed and an appeal potentially avoided.”
Thank you for reading this article on our free-to-read website. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.