Woman with debilitating disease denied PIP ‘because she has a degree’

Labour MP Liz McInnes raised concerns about her constituent at PMQs – and Theresa May admitted she was ‘surprised’ 

A woman with a rare and debilitating disease had her crucial disability benefits stopped ‘because she had a degree’, MPs heard today.

At today’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour MP Liz McInnes raised the case of her constituent, Natasha, who has fanconi anemia – a genetic bone marrow condition which carries a very high risk of cancer.

And Theresa May admitted the case was concerning and surprising. Ms McInnes said: “Natasha was on lifetime disability allowance, which was removed following a PIP assessment. “When Natasha appealed, she was told that because she had a degree, she doesn’t need as much support.”

She went on: “Now, I’m sure the PM is aware that disease and cancer are no respecters of qualifications and I’d like to ask the PM what urgent measures she will take to improve the quality and standard of PIP assessments.” The Prime Minister urged Ms McInnes to send her details of the case and promised it would be looked into.

She said: “Obviously the DWP is constantly looking at the standard of PIP assessments that are being made I’m sorry to hear the case that the Honorable Lady has set out. “I’m sure most people would be concerned at hear that case. I’m very surprised at the judgement that was given in relation to that individual. Can I suggest that she sends in the detail of that case and we’ll make sure that that’s looked into.”

Of 526,000 DLA claimants reassessed for PIP up to October 2016, 21% were rejected and 23% ended up worse off financially. Others ended up better off financially under the system.

The number of disability benefit tests being overturned on appeal reached a record high in December. Official figures reveal 68% of all people who ask a tribunal for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) now win their case – 14,188 victories in the most recent three months. The previous record in a three-month period was 14,077, 65% of cases heard.

The demand for appeals for PIP and other benefits, mainly sickness payment ESA, is now so great that tribunal officials are battling a backlog.

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