The Tyranny of the PIP Overlords

James DaviesAnd how I suffered from their wrath…..

My name is James Davies, I am 24 years old. I am a recent cochlear implantee (as of Feb 2013) prior to that I have always worn hearing aids. I live in the South of England in rural Surrey, employed as a Project Engineer for a respectable company.

I started the process of applying to PIP some point late May 2014, I had realised that I needed some form of help as I gained more independence (I was moving out) and needed some financial help. My friends at the time (deaf peers) recommended me to apply for DLA (they didn’t know at that point it was called PIP) and that it was a fairly straightforward process.

So I started my research, in this I found that DLA no longer exists for adults, it was re-named PIP and changed under the new Tory government. Ok I thought, just a new name and system.

First problem I came across was pretty obvious. The only way I could get the application form was contacting them via phone, now obviously I can’t do this at all. So I thought ok I’ll look for an email address since this is the internet age and surely they would have one. NOPE, zero zilch nada… no form of email contact to request an application form is listed.

So thus I contacted a charity in Farnborough called deafPLUS who agreed to phone on my behalf, I had to take some time off work just to make a bloody phone call to claim a FORM! Even that was stressful, due to them asking repeatedly to talk to me (suppose they didn’t realise deafness existed lol) and the woman who helped trying to explain that I could not hear the phone and she was speaking on my behalf. Anyway I managed to get that form request submitted and it came in the post around June 2014.

I read through the booklet that came with questions, It was immediately clear that it was based on a point scoring system to which I thought was detrimental to deaf people like myself. I was already sceptical that I would have any chance of getting this benefit.

The questions are very vague, and not very straightforward. I had no idea what to put, so I put some answers that I guess answered the question more directly. I suppose this was a mistake, I could have answered the question however I wanted, adding more information related to how my deafness effects me in the question they ask.

There was not much information on the internet from deaf people who have applied for PIP (relatively new at the time) for me to use to my advantage.

I felt this form was impossible, none of the questions really help a deaf person to portray their problems and why I feel I am entitled to PIP.

After I had filled it in it felt like had barely answered some of the questions.

I received an answer in November 2014, formally rejecting my application for PIP. I was devastated, I had no chance with this system. My problems in everyday life could not be explained in this restrictive form.

Ironically, the letter stated that I would be phoned up and explained why I hadn’t received the benefit. Huh? Did this guy even read my application? He would have read that I CANNOT use a phone, let alone hear very well….

I cannot remember but I think they phoned me on my mobile, obviously I couldn’t answer the phone. I was at work as well, no one could have possibly picked it up for me, it is my personal matters too.

After that phone call I don’t think I received anything. That was it.

Now I know I could have appealed against the decision but I was so disheartened by the process and I felt I would never win, the questions and acceptance criteria is flawed.

I have since this not tried to reapply, I missed the 1 month appeal time.

I hope to try again with some help.

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4 thoughts on “The Tyranny of the PIP Overlords

  1. Sadly neither DLA or PIP were well designed for people who only have deafness to account for. DLA had some bodges around “attracting attention” and some of the “care allowance” so some deaf could get lower rate mobility and middle rate care but it was always VERY variable. I saw See Hear show a deaf couple who filled the forms in identically, one got some DLA award, the other was rejected.

    PIP is even worse for deaf people I think, we can get some points on deafness alone for any communication challenges but we have to work hard to get the 8 points needed to get severe communication challenges.

    Sadly all government benefits like PIP, ESA, JSA all need a very weird way of completing the forms. There is advice out there but it is horribly vague. I collated which charities/organisations provided impairment-specific information but there weren’t many. Maybe the NDCS and AoHL could get together and outline some advice or questions people should provide answers to in their PIP application to try and increase the likelihood of getting points.

    I hope you feel able to try and apply again soon, I agree advocacy support to complete the forms AND do the medical is essential. Insist on appropriate communication support and don’t let the DWP or their subcontractors (ATOS or Capita) fob you off. Keep chasing them and documenting chases in writing with them as they’ll have to cave eventually and it’ll make them look awful.

    Good sources of general info are Disability Rights UK, Citizens Advice and the subscription fee for http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk is well worth every penny. B&W do very specific guide with examples. Slow, and painstaking but helpful if you have the patience (and ability) to go through it carefully. It even covers the deafness communication thing as well as a non impairment specific group can.

    The phones thing is a nonsense, you can write in postal -letter form (cos they’re luddites) and request a form but they then blame claimant for the delay. They did have an email address but haven’t published it cos it was a pilot. I am awaiting the outcome of a Freedom of Information act request to challenge the non publishing of the address and I am about to make a formal complaint about the sodding phones.

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  2. I understand how you must have felt, the form is designed with mobility and mental health at the fore. It is difficult for the deaf community to be recognised as disabled because they have been denied a voice through years of discrimination built up through policies designed to reduce numbers entitled to welfare benefits.
    My sister is profoundly deaf, I am partly deaf, I did a small piece of research on how social policies affect deaf people and was astounded by the results. I intend to look at areas and ways to support deaf awareness and recognition of how this disables deaf people..
    There are a lot of web sites and pages on Facebook, but these are based on politics and benefits. I believe that by working to educate and promote awareness we can get some of these policies reviewed through applying basic human rights, such as recognising bsl as a language, understanding that translation is not simply applying words but is a totally different set of grammar rules and that body language is not simply an addition but part of bsl! Also that everyday things such as doorbells and kettles need to be adapted.
    If you think there is anything I can do please do contact me?
    Kind regards
    Chrissy

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  3. Pingback: We’re PIP’d Off | National Deaf Children's Society Campaigns blog

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