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Thread: PIP experience.

  1. #11
    That's a great description of the necessary "light bulb moment". Most of the time we are used to looking past the issues, but applying for disability benefits, especially PIP (or DLA), requires us to look head on at the issues.

    As I mentioned in the sticky thread, the assessment of my problems in my assessment report was more accurate than my self-assessment. I wouldn't have been so forthright about how much I struggle on a day to day basis, but this is the assessment process working at its best - I gave the assessor the best quality source material I could and left it to her to write a report from her more distant and therefore more objective viewpoint.

    Together, the combination of the human tendency to look past our problems rather than at them and the inevitable lack of objectivity when writing about personal matters make writing good quality disability benefit claims quite tricky. It can help to run an early draft past those people whom know you best, as they might well pick up things you've missed as well as help you reflect on where you have placed the strongest emphases.

    Your story board type approach sounds great. I used computerised mind mapping when I was completing my PIP2, as that's the visualisation and organisation technique I'm most comfortable with. The structure I used in my PIP2 and subsequently suggested in the sticky thread came from the structure of that mind map when I couldn't optimise my high level headings any further.

    You will likely find yourself repeating some points on several pages.

    As it sounds like your condition is somewhat similar to mine, you may be able to make use of the same groupings of high-level issues, which were explicit sub-headings in my document:

    • sensory
    • muscular
    • concentration
    • fatigue
    • pain

    If you use the same headings under each activity and keep points in a similar order, it assists comparison between activities.

    Of course, you should use whatever presentation method works for you. You will undoubtedly be familiar with a raft of communication techniques from your retail career, which you should be able to make use of. The task this time is to offer a complete and comprehensive picture of your disabilities to DWP.

    Remember, the standard for all benefits matters is 'more likely than not', the civil standard of proof. You don't have to demonstrate your case 'beyond reasonable doubt', the much tougher criminal standard of proof.

  2. #12

    Lightbulb Light bulb moment continued

    Hopefully I have attached just one copy of one of the slides I have prepared Each one relates to each one of the descriptors that apply to me. I have only attached the one about preparing food I know that it is a lot to ask of you but could you please tell me if it looks anything like the vision you have in your mind?

    As my brain is not as analytical as yours it helps to have visual aids If you have the time to critique it I would be eternally grateful. If I know I am on the right track then I can use the points in my statement. Please be brutal as I need to get this right [as does anyone who is in this position] I realise I have taken up a lot of your valuable time, so thanks.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails preparing food.jpg  

  3. #13
    It will probably take until tomorrow for the forum moderators to approve your attachment - this is a normal part of posting any attachment to these forums and you are not being singled out. Until then, I can't see it, but I will try to give you some critique when I can.

    There is no single correct way to explain your case, as I've tried to stress throughout. However, I realise that you are asking for suggestions to optimise your chosen approach, which I'm happy to provide when I can.

    I am impressed how well you've focused on and applied yourself to the task of presenting your case constructively. The desire to fight the system is always difficult to resist, but you've managed to move on from that place very well. I suspect that you, like me, feel much happier and more in control of a situation when you understand the parameters and have some idea of what you're supposed to be doing. Devising the best possible reconsideration or appeal submission is the best way I can think of to take back control following an adverse decision. Ultimately, putting together a good challenge is about refusing to be disempowered as well as trying to put the situation right.

    The lack of accessible information and difficulty of obtaining good quality advice is relation to benefits is a national disgrace, but there does not appear to be any prospect of Parliament reversing its 2012 decision to withdraw Legal Aid money for most benefits matters. Most of this money historically went to advice providers such as Citizen's Advice, with very little going to solicitors. I do what little I can within the parameters of my health, knowledge and experience.

  4. #14
    Thank you,
    You are totally spot on. When I received the decision letter I was very angry and frustrated, which caused my mood to plummet dramatically leaving me feeling victimised and wanting to give up. I now feel that I am taking control of what happens to me and that I am taking responsibility and not banging my head against the proverbial wall. I realise that I still might not get the outcome I feel my situation deserves, however knowing that I have given myself the best opportunity is some consolation. Therefore my mood has lifted considerably now that I have focus.

    I can not urge anyone in this situation enough to take your approach and not to expect things to be 'handed to you on a plate' and don't spend all your limited energy and health trying to 'beat the system'

    I appreciate you taking the time to critique my approach to this, as I recognise you have your own health and priorities. I can only say that your experience and knowledge have been invaluable. As they say 'fail to prepare, prepare to fail' though I don't know who 'they' are
    and as you said earlier I strongly urge everyone do it right the first time!

  5. #15
    Had my call from Decision Maker today. So pleased that I was in the right frame of mind to listen as it was very enlightening. Told her I wanted a Mandatory Reconsideration and would be sending a detailed response with medical evidence. I will wait for the assessment report to arrive as it should be with me in the next couple of days and then begin to write my response based on my notes and my visual mind-map In the meantime I have posted a letter confirming what we discussed on the phone.

  6. #16
    Your conversation with the decision maker sounds like a good start.

    Your attachment now shows online. It's clear that this approach has given you a clear understanding of the issues you face, which is the key thing to making your case. What follows are some suggested ways to tighten things up so as not to lose points unnecessarily.

    Don't forget to include those thing that always impair your ability to cook or prepare food - you could put an "always" row at the top to remind you.

    'Acceptable standard' and 'As often as reasonably required' are seen primarily in relation to your needs in your everyday life. This means it is best to start by explaining what is normal for you (one cooked meal in the evening and lighter meals at breakfast and lunchtime?) before making your points in that context. The other activities are also norm-referenced to your life, so, for example, it's necessary to explain the number of times a day you need to go to the loo and when those times typically fall to give a full understanding of any problems you have using the toilet.

    'Reasonable time' has a specific legal definition: the time taken is reasonable if it is no more than twice the slowest time taken by any healthy person. This is quite a tough standard, as you have to be very slow doing something for the time to be unreasonable. The best thing to do is be as specific as possible about the time things take you and how long any breaks need to be. The decision maker will apply the legal test to the information you give.

    It is vital to be as specific as possible about the proportion of days that you experience each of the problems you state, as that has a substantial effect on the points you are awarded. "Always" and "never" are useful adjectives. However, you should be wary of "many", "most" and other equally vague words.

    You mention that "many" of your meals are burnt or undercooked due to concentration issues. This would be best broken down into burning (unacceptable and possibly unsalvageable) and undercooked (cook it some more - or do you not realise until you've dished up?). I can't put words into your mouth, but I'd aim for something like:

    At least two days a week I ruin my cooked meal because I burn it after losing concentration due to pain and fatigue. On a further two days a week, I lose concentration due to exhaustion so dish up an undercooked meal. This exhaustion leaves me too tired to heat an undercooked meal in the microwave, so I have to leave the inedible meal unless someone else can take over to finish cooking it for me. These problems mean I cannot cook an edible meal on at least four days a week.

    Four days a week is significant, as the PIP points scoring system works by the proportion of days you can and can't do the various descriptors safely, repeatedly, to an acceptable standard and in a reasonable time. That paragraph is strongly suggestive of an inability to cook a simple meal without assistance on more than half of days, which would lead to 4 points.

    However, it's important to remember that the problems are looked at in the round. If possible, it's best to conclude with a proportion of time you satisfy the various descriptors for that activity with brief reference back to what came before ("The legal test" in my suggested approach).

    Here's my actual "legal test" section, which draws conclusions from previous explanations rather than being a free-standing explanation.

    I am never able to prepare and cook a simple meal unaided.

    I do not need to use an aid or appliance to able to prepare or cook a simple meal, as I cannot see how any aid could conceivably assist me in these tasks. Whilst a perch stool might help with my need to sit down after a few minutes and with my impaired balance, it cannot address the other issues I face with preparing and cooking food.

    There are no days when I am able to cook a simple meal using a conventional cooker but could do so with a microwave. I cannot safely use a conventional cooker at all. I can only use a microwave safely to heat things up, but could not safely heat them to boiling point to cook them.

    I would always need supervision to prepare or cook a simple meal to prevent me cutting or burning myself.

    I would always need assistance to cook and prepare a simple meal because the health problems outlined above prevent me safely:

    • peeling and chopping
    • lifting weight whilst cooking, such as lifting a pan on or off the cooker, or lifting a steamer full of vegetables and hot water in to or out of a microwave, and
    • dealing with hot objects

    The amount of supervision and assistance I require for preparing and cooking food amounts to someone else doing the entire task for me.

    There is a big leap at the end, as the 8 point descriptor (which I was awarded) requires demonstrating a complete inability to prepare or cook food, not just a simple meal for one. I had explained this inability fully in the earlier material.

  7. #17
    Thank you so much for all the time and effort you have put into reviewing and helping me. I know that the statement that I have finally put together will give me the best opportunity to get an award. I also know that without your patience and wisdom my statement would look very different indeed, and to all intents and purposes would have just been a rambling rant about the injustices of the system.
    There are no words that explain how indebted I am to both you and this forum. You are truly a good person who gives his time selflessly.
    Thank you

  8. #18
    Thank you for your kind words. You've done the hard work - I've just helped provide some focus. The recent successes here and here show that refining the arguments relating to those legal tests most likely to lead to award of benefit can produce good results.

    The social model of disability notes that any impairment is an inherent part of you, but the disability results from society's inability to cope with that impairment. My difficulties with walking are one of my more obvious impairments, but the disability that results is because society has some way to go with wheelchair access (and, for that matter, with the provision of suitable wheelchairs - my current NHS power chair is no longer correct for my needs and is falling apart).

    I believe DLA and PIP are a vital part of society's response in preventing impairment from becoming needless disability, which is why I will do what I can to help people refine their claims. Being faced with a decision that you do not understand and that seems unjust is tremendously disempowering.

    I believe the removal of Legal Aid support for all benefits matters (other than appeals on points of law to the Upper Tribunal and the courts) has done society a grave disservice. It must be demoralising being a DWP decision maker dealing with claims where there is clearly a relevant disability, but the information is not clear enough to demonstrate that the criteria to award benefit have more likely than not been met.

    Hopefully the reconsideration process produces the desired result. If not, I urge you to go through the same process of collecting information and refining your arguments further before appealing to a tribunal. As phillee found, appealing can lead to a further reconsideration which awards PIP without the need for a tribunal hearing.

  9. #19
    It turns out that all that was needed was the original poster's reconsideration submission, as she was awarded enhanced rate Daily Living and enhanced rate Mobility on reconsideration.

  10. #20
    Hi Flymo. I am brand new to this process and have read - several times - the sticky's and the suggested posts of yours. My disability is predominately arthritis in my joints and spine, with bulging disks. I am finding it seriously hard to know where to start on a mind map for my mobility well and care. I have other health issues - as most seem to - the the main problem is my spine. And did you submit this mind map as is . Or did you write a statement from it. I am not wheelchair bound, just don't walk anywhere. When my husband is working away ( 6mths of the year in 5 weeks chunks ) i am for the most part housebound in fact couch bound. The pain caused by just getting up to make a cup of coffee is sickening.
    I understand the need to explain in story form but am just not intelligent enough maybe/ or too drug brain fogged to understand how to start. I am waiting for my form to arrive so nowhere near face 2 face assessment. However as my ex military husband and son remind me of of the 7p's ( p*** poor planning and preparation make for p*** poor performance ) i am trying to be prepared.
    Please could you point me in the right direction of any useful examples of good mobility explanations

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