Those claiming PIP are being urged to appeal payment decisions if their allowance was stopped after not going to an assessment.
A court ruling, which was first reported by the Disability News Service, found that the government did not make it clear to a particular benefit claimant that their failure to attend assessments without a valid reason would subsequently result in their claim being denied.
The letter sent to the claimant said, "It is important that you attend this appointment.
"If you fail to attend without good reason the decision maker at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is likely to disallow your claim."
However, the ambiguity of this letter concerned the judge, as it didn’t clearly state that claimants must attend, and that if they didn’t attend and didn’t have a good reason for not doing so, then their claim would definitely be disallowed.
This particular case only refers to the claimant involved, with it remaining unknown how many people were sent a similar letter, or if it is still in circulation.
Urged to appeal the decision
After this case emerged, the Buckinghamshire Disability Service is now urging those who have been in a similar situation - having had their claim denied and receiving this letter - to appeal the decision too.
Writing online, the Buckinghamshire Disability Service said, “Thousands of disabled people had their PIP claim stopped because DWP claimed that you didn’t go to an assessment.
"If the letter you received telling you about the appointment used the standard wording then you hadn’t been validly notified about the appointment and DWP acted illegally if it then stopped your claim.
"It doesn’t matter if you did or didn’t have a good reason not to attend, the point is that DWP legally can’t punish you if it sent you an invalid appointment letter."
The Buckinghamshire Disability Service is now urging those who have been in a similar situation - having had their claim denied and receiving this letter - to appeal the decision too (Photo: Shutterstock)
How can I appeal?
If you wish to appeal a claim then you first need to ask for a “mandatory resignation notice,” which is where the DWP looks at the original decision again.
However, you usually need to do this within one month of the date on your decision letter.
If you are then dissatisfied with this outcome, you can appeal to an independent tribunal, where you must send your appeal form within one month of the date shown on the mandatory reconsideration notice.
To appeal to an independent tribunal online, click here.
The Gov.uk website says, “Use this form to appeal against a decision made by the Department for Work and Pensions about social security benefits.
“You can appeal a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA) decision online.”
It can take up to six months for an appeal to be heard by the tribunal.
In a statement DWP said, “We will consider these findings as we continue to improve our assessment processes.”