PIP is meant to help people with long-term physical or mental health conditions or disabilities. The support can be up to £152.15 a week – but many severely ill people say they have been denied support
Image: David Rhind)
A father and son who have arthritis and learning difficulties between them say they are struggling to get by after being rejected twice for Personal Independence Payments (PIP).
Their case shows how easy it is for people to fall down the cracks in the PIP system and not get the benefit they need.
PIP is meant to help people with long-term physical or mental health conditions or disabilities. The support can be up to £152.15 a week.
But many report finding it hard to get PIP payments and are rejected by assessors working for DWP.
Two people grappling with PIP unsuccessfully are David Rhind, 52, and his son Christoper Rhind, 22.
The Rhinds, who live in Aberdeenshire, say the lack of PIP is making a huge difference to their lives.
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David has bad arthritis and needs full-time care.
Christopher has learning difficulties and went to a special needs school. He is on medication for sleep deprivation, depression and breathlessness, has anxiety and has thoughts of self-harming, his father said, and has bitten his fingernails off.
David’s wife was his carer, before she sadly passed away in November last year after not fully recovering from a road accident.
Now Christopher has stepped in to care for his father, helping him wash and dress, as well as cleaning the house and cooking.
But the reality is that the father and son care for each other.
David said: “My son is now my carer and I help him as much as I can. He helps me wash, dress and he cleans the house with a little help from me as I can’t do much and he helps me down in the village as he can’t make a journey alone.
“I write things down for him so he remembers and I help him cook. He does all the lifting, and I tell him the temperature and time things need for cooking.
“My wife showed him how to use the washing machine and when he goes out I have to be with him or he would get lost.”
Christopher had an assessment for PIP in as soon as he left school.
Technically he is eligible for PIP because anxiety, cognitive disorders and learning disorders are qualifying factors for the benefit.
But he never got the benefit, as he was so overcome with worry on the journey to his first PIP assessment that he became ill and had to return home.
He was assessed again on July 17 this year, but was rejected again.
Most recently the PIP assessor said if he can care for his father, he can plan a journey or cook a meal unaided – both signs someone can cope and doesn’t need PIP.
David said: “He’s on meds for his nerves and meds for sleep deprivation, and a salbutamol inhaler which he uses now and again. But yet PIP say if you suffer any mental health issue you are entitled to [the benefit], which is all lies – they’re uncaring and unhuman.”
The second rejection knocked Christopher’s health, his father said.
“As he told me, no one cares,” David said. “But he said I’m his rock, and I said he is mine.
“PIP to my son would help him a great deal, as with his medical health it would help him a lot. He has never had any savings as he can’t work, and is now my full-time carer.”
DWP has been approached for comment.
PIP decisions overturned in court
It stems from a High Court ruling in December 2017 that found the DWP had not correctly followed regulations for the points given for being able to go on journeys.
Claimants should have been awarded the standard mobility rate of PIP if their psychological distress meant they were unable to undertake any unfamiliar journey without having someone with them.
And they should have been given the enhanced rate if they could not go on any familiar journey without support.
But instead the DWP had been underscoring people for this part of the assessment, meaning some didn’t qualify for the mobility rate of PIP at all.
When asked about the failures, the DWP said new information came to light at the tribunal.
The department is now reassessing claims and making adjustments that will mean extra cash and a big back payment for many who were turned down the first time around.