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Success in a legal battle over Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

A legal challenge to an incorrect PIP assessment has led to a blind woman being awarded £25,000 in benefit arrears.

Please note, we have changed the name of the client to protect her privacy.

Jane is in her fifties, is registered blind and has a mild learning disability; she has had problems with her sight all her life and was registered as blind in 1987.

In 2016, Jane was told that she had to be assessed for PIP and that this would replace her award of disability living allowance. She contacted us after she had attended an independent tribunal hearing regarding her claim for the Personal Independence Payment daily living component. Unfortunately, the tribunal had decided she didn’t meet the disability criteria to qualify for the higher level of the benefit.

When our legal rights team got involved in the case, they applied to a higher tribunal for ‘permission to appeal’, which was granted. They had to prove that the decision was based on insufficient findings, or that the tribunal misunderstood or misapplied the relevant law or gave inadequate reasons for its decision.

The team attended the new hearing to represent Jane who, despite her emotional state, was able to give evidence to the tribunal. The tribunal decided she was entitled to an enhanced rate due to her condition. This is worth an extra £85.60 per week and, as the original decision was back in January 2017, Jane was owed substantial arrears of the daily living component back to that date. She was also entitled to arrears of disability premiums connected to a PIP award that are payable within her employment and support allowance that she gets because of being deemed to have “limited capability for work”. These also were paid back to January 2017. As a result, Jane gained a total of about £25,000 in benefit arrears.

“It has been a hugely upsetting and difficult time, but it was worth it in the end. I am so glad I contacted the team as without them I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”

In the end, Jane got the best outcome she could have wished for because she didn’t give up.

About PIP

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a benefit which helps with some of the extra costs related to disability if you're aged 16 to 64. PIP is a crucial benefit, but the current assessment and decision-making process is not working for people with sight loss.

RNIB want the PIP process to be fair and accessible for blind and partially sighted people, so people don’t have to go through lengthy appeals and tribunals to get the correct entitlement. But we know it often isn’t and that’s why we are calling for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to:

  • Ensure the PIP assessment and decision-making processes are fair for blind and partially sighted people.
  • Make the PIP assessment process accessible for blind and partially sighted people, taking into consideration their individual needs.

Further help

It is important to know when to challenge a decision regarding a benefit claim, so if you think you have been unfairly assessed contact our helpline and they can put you in touch with the appropriate service: call 0303 123 9999 or email [email protected].