PIP has resulted in thousands of people with MS losing out

Ms getting into car web

The MS Society has said that the situation has drastically changed for those with the condition

1st September 2017 by Gareth Jones 1 Comment

The introduction of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) has resulted in a financial disaster for those with multiple sclerosis (MS).

New figures from the MS Society show that thousands of people living with the condition have lost millions in benefits since the introduction of PIP.

Despite previously qualifying for the highest rates of government support, people with MS have found their situation drastically changed. 

Following a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, the MS Society has calculated that at least £6 million a year has been taken from people with the condition since PIP started replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in 2013.

The FoI shows that almost one in three people (2,600) who received the highest rate mobility component of DLA had their payments downgraded or denied after being reassessed for PIP between October 2013 and October 2016.

For those receiving the highest rate for the care part of DLA, nearly a quarter (800 people) faced cuts under PIP’s equivalent daily living component.

Using the FoI findings, the MS Society has calculated a loss of at least £4,867,200 a year from all those receiving the highest rate of the mobility component and £1,141,920 a year from those on the highest rate of care.

Genevieve Edwards, director of external affairs at the MS Society, said: “These staggering figures show how PIP is failing some of the most vulnerable people with MS who need the highest level of support. It doesn’t make sense that people are losing money they once qualified for, when they are living with a progressive condition that will never improve.”

“People tell us they aren’t given the opportunity in their assessments to explain what it’s really like to live with MS. What’s more, assessors rarely have enough knowledge about the condition. This means significant numbers are getting the wrong decisions about what they’re entitled to, having a potentially drastic impact on their living situation. Their only options are to face a lengthy and stressful appeal process, or attempt to get by with inadequate support.

My symptoms worsened as a result of PIP process

Yolanda Barker, who has lived with MS for over 20 years, received the higher rates of care and mobility under DLA for around a decade. Following her PIP assessment last year she was downgraded to the standard rate for care. 

She said: “The financial impact on me and my family has been huge. The whole process took around a year and it caused me a great deal of stress. My symptoms worsened, as did my depression.

“There were so many things the assessor got wrong or didn’t mention in my report. I tried my best to explain how my symptoms affect me differently every day but I don’t think he understood this. If your problems don’t fit in their boxes, they’re not taken into account.

“The worst thing is that I’ll face another assessment next year. It constantly plays on mind whether I’ll lose more money or my Motability car, and if I’ll be able to manage. Life isn’t going to get any easier for me, yet I feel like I’m being targeted. The system has made me feel like I’m dishonest and that I’m continually being judged. There’s just no let up from it.” 

The charity has said that the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has not provided any evidence to show that those people losing out actually have less need for support, and there are at least 38,000 people with MS yet to be reassessed for PIP.

Edwards added: “The government urgently needs to fix this broken system so that PIP assessments reflect the realities of living with MS. Having MS is hard enough; it shouldn’t be made harder by a welfare system that doesn’t make sense.”

A DWP spokesman said: “Under PIP, 36% more multiple sclerosis ­claimants receive the highest rate of support than under DLA.

“We recognise symptoms of MS can fluctuate over time, and regular reassessments mean we can ensure people with degenerative conditions get the help they need as their ­condition changes.”

Scottish Labour social security spokesman Mark Griffin MSP said: “These are deeply concerning figures that once again show the brutality of this cruel Tory government.

“Tory austerity and changes to welfare have hurt the most ­vulnerable in society. Theresa May and Ruth Davidson should be ashamed.”

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1st September 2017 by LYNNE HEAL

This is unwarranted and very cruel indeed . I never ever claimed benefits for many years and when I did was underpaid and never ever given back what I was owed either . Truths are NO one cares or takes any notice of either here in the UK its bad here .I was put on the lowest rate instead of the highest and never ever got the money back I was owed . NO one at all cares about me with MS I nearly died in 2010 and since 2009 have had to live with being told that I can die any day