We are becoming increasingly concerned about the experiences of deaf young people trying to claim the benefit Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
- Want to make an application for PIP? Use the phone!
It is quite extraordinary that the application process for a benefit that is designed to help people with a disability is not accessible for all those with a disability, such as some deaf young people. It makes a massive assumption that everyone has a phone and can use a telephone to make a request for an application. Yes, you read that right, deaf young people are expected to call up for an application form, or if they are unable to do so, ask a family member to call on their behalf. Talk about stripping a young person’s independence from them at the very outset! There is a textphone option but to be honest the likelihood of anyone under 30 owning a textphone is very remote! Alternative, ways of applying for the benefit such as via email or the website are not promoted or encouraged. It is shocking that deaf young people are having to hurdle…or maybe it’s more appropriate to say ‘pole vault’ their way over barriers that should not be there in the first place. And this is before they’ve even made it to their assessment!
- You need a BSL interpreter at the assessment? They might forget to book it and ask you to continue with the assessment anyway!
We are aware of a case where communication support was not provided at an assessment, despite it being requested and that request agreed to. When it was clear the communication support had not been arranged, the assessor suggested the meeting go on without it! This demonstrates an extreme lack of deaf awareness which could jeopardise the chances of the deaf young person being awarded PIP and which causes considerable stress to the deaf young person involved.
- If you are deaf you may not qualify for PIP but if you go to the effort of taking legal action against this decision, they might change their minds and apologise!
We are aware of a number of cases where an assessor and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has determined that a deaf young person is ineligible for PIP. The deaf young people in these cases have had to take legal action about the decisions. In one case the decision was reversed, the deaf young person was awarded PIP and the DWP apologised to the deaf young person and their family. The other case is currently ongoing. These cases have placed a great deal of stress on the deaf young people involved.
What we are doing about it
We are currently asking the Government what they are doing to improve the experiences for deaf young people in this process and continue to work with deaf young people to challenge any decisions where appropriate.