Please spare a thought for this 64 year old severely disabled client of mine? Please share this post to see if we can garner a response from the Tories although, I doubt we will.
My client was thrown off ESA by ATOS 18 months ago. Since then, he has been expected to sign on. Obviously, he’s been sanctioned and forced to go hungry. so much so he weighs 6 stone. On Friday, not surprisingly he was at death’s door with pneumonia. Fortunately, I was able to get him into hospital.Evidently, his left lung was full of fluid with his right not much better, he’s now on the mend.
He has been unable to heat or look after his home properly because his health has deteriorated which I suggest is obvious from the photographs. He lives in one room of his 3 bedroom house he rents from a private landlord. It is rat infested, he cannot use the toilet nor is he strong enough to put water in a kettle. He relies on bottled water. I am making efforts to have him rehoused in sheltered accommodation. However, I think he may have to go into a nursing/residential home in the interim.
Birkenhead Benefits Centre has ignored my continuous please for help, heartless bastards!



The decimation of the welfare state

It’s sickening that the British welfare state is being gradually demolished by successive governments, to be eventually replaced with private healthcare insurance [1] and what’s even more galling is: they [some members of the UK govt] went to the USA to find out how to decimate our welfare state and NHS, encouraged by American corporate funders. Mo Stewart has written extensively about this in her book Cash not Care.

Amber Rudd has the absolute nerve to say Universal Credit has not always been compassionate whilst her dept have overseen the demolition of the welfare state causing misery not seen seen Victorian times [2] and I have added hundreds of  DWP atrocities like the one of Alan Chrisman [below] which have contributed to many suicides [3] 

Since 2010

Denied: How some Tennessee doctors earn big money denying disability claims

Alan Chrisman holds medical bills and records near the McDonald’s where he worked at as a maintenance employee before being diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer

By the time Alan Chrisman was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer, he was too sick to work. The cancer had spread to his lungs. His doctors said he may never get better. He applied for disability, the federal safety net program he contributed to with every paycheck during his 30 years working as a stonemason.

But a doctor hired by Tennessee’s Disability Determination Services to review applications quickly concluded Chrisman wasn’t sick enough to get the $804 monthly benefit.

That physician, Dr. Thomas Thrush, is one of about 50 doctors contracted to review applications for Tennesseans seeking disability. The doctors are paid a flat rate for each application file they review. How much they earn depends on how fast they work.

Thrush, like many of the doctors who contract with the state, works very fast. In fiscal year 2018, he reviewed — on average — one case every 12 minutes.

Thrush’s productivity has paid off. He earned $420,000 for reviewing the applications of 9,088 Tennesseans applying for disability during the year ending June 30. He has made more than $2.2 million since 2013. On average, 80 percent of the cases he reviewed were denied.

6 takeaways from this investigation: Doctors speed through disability claims, make millions

Tennessee has among the highest denial rates for disability applicants in the nation, rejecting 72 percent of all claims in 2017. The national average for denials was 66 percent. Outside experts and former and current state employees say it’s impossible to review cases so quickly without making mistakes that lead to wrongful rejections of disability benefits.

In Chrisman’s case, Thrush failed to obtain one critical piece of evidence: a discharge paper from a hospital that stated Chrisman’s cancer was inoperable and had metastasized. The prognosis clearly qualified him for disability, even under the complex rules set by the Social Security Administration. The mistake was discovered only after Chrisman hired a lawyer.

A USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee investigation examined 5½ years of data for physicians and psychologists who review disability applications. The investigation found that between January 2013 and July 2018:

• Some doctors raced through cases. More than half of all contract physicians outpaced the federal standard of 1.5 cases per hour, and 1 out of every 5 doctors doubled that pace.

 A whistleblower was fired. The contract of a former medical consultant was terminated in 2017 after he raised concerns about some physicians reviewing a high volume of cases.

• Speed pays. Seven high-volume doctors billed for more than $1 million each between fiscal 2013 and 2018. These physicians’ annual payments range from $103,000 to $451,000. By contrast, the acting chief of the Social Security Administration, a Cabinet-level position, earned $240,000. For some physicians, this was not their sole source of income.

 Staff doctors take more time. The state employed a small number of staff doctors whose compensation is not tied to the number of cases they review. These doctors reviewed cases at a rate that is in line with federal recommendations. They typically earned less than $150,000 annually, according to the state’s salary database. Beginning this year, however, the state is terminating all doctors on salary and relying only on contract physicians.

 Some doctors have a history of misconduct. At least two doctors under contract with the state are felons, including Thrush. Two other physicians had their medical licenses placed on probation. Another physician had his license revoked twice in the past 20 years and now works on a restricted license that bars him from treating patients.

Five current and former contractors and state employees said they believe disability applicants are being wrongfully denied in an effort to process as many applications as possible. Most spoke to The Tennessean on the condition of anonymity, for fear of reprisal.

“It’s like a cash register,” said one contract physician. “From our perspective it’s unethical. From a consumer’s point of view it can be a tragedy.”

One doctor who raised the issue through official channels lost his contract. Dr. John Mather, the whistleblower, was the former chief medical officer for disability programs at the federal Social Security Administration, and worked as a contract doctor for the state after he retired.

“Who knows how many applicants for disability benefits have had their applications denied without justification,” he said.

A whistleblower

Mather said he warned James Stanfield, director for the state disability department, and Raquel Hatter, then commissioner of the Department of Human Services, in 2016 about the dangers of some doctors performing large numbers of reviews. The Human Services Department’s general counsel responded in a letter saying there was nothing illegal or fraudulent.

Mather emailed the Social Security Administration, which referred the matter to the Office of Inspector General. That office determined no investigation was warranted. Mather met with auditors at the Comptroller of the Treasury, then received no further response.

In 2017, Stanfield declined to renew Mather’s contract. “I don’t think they care about the claimant,” Mather said of administrators. “They just want to see the cases out. I don’t think they care too much about quality. People who are high producers — they are very happy to have them around.”

Current and former personnel said they were speaking up now because they want an outside investigator to review all cases to ensure individuals have not been wrongly denied.

“These findings are troubling,” Tennessee U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper said in a statement. “Physicians, especially those dealing with state and federal funds, should be careful and thorough in their work. Social Security Disability Insurance is a vital program, and we have to keep it strong.”

Alan Chrisman walks with his wife, Joyce, near the Sevierville, Tenn., McDonald’s where he worked as a maintenance employee before being diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer. Chrisman applied for disability but was initally denied by a medical contractor hired by the state to review claims.

A spokesman for the Department of Human Services, which oversees the disability program in Tennessee, disputed any connection between how fast doctors review case files and their mistakes. “We have no reason to believe that doctors that average faster reviews are more prone to have errors in their reviews,” Sky Arnold said in a statement.

The Social Security Administration provided its own statistics that showed Tennessee doctors were spending on average 47 “medical minutes per case.” Patti Patterson, a spokeswoman, noted that was more than the national average of 38 minutes.

But the federal data adds the time multiple physicians spend reviewing the same case, a common occurrence when someone is claiming both a mental and physical disability requiring two different specialists. The state data analyzed by The Tennessean details each doctor’s speed.

A letter brings crushing news

For weeks, Chrisman did not feel well. Some days he would lose control of his bowels. After stonemason work became scarce, he got a job as a maintenance man at a McDonald’s in Sevierville, Tennessee, two years ago. One day in November 2017, he showed up to work at the restaurant and promptly soiled himself.

At the insistence of his wife, Joyce, he headed straight to a walk-in clinic. It was his first medical visit in a long time. The Chrismans cannot afford insurance. He was referred to a doctor, then another. The diagnosis was swift.

Chrisman had late-stage cancer of the intestine. The cancer had spread. There were two spots on his lung. A golf ball-sized tumor and about a foot of his intestine were removed in surgery.

Alan Chrisman worked as a maintenance employee at this Sevierville, Tenn., McDonald’s before being diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer in November 2017. He’s now on his 11th dose of chemotherapy. After his 12th next month, he will return for a scan.
Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel

Weakened by chemotherapy and radiation, emaciated after shedding 40 pounds, and in extreme discomfort with tubes protruding from his backside, Chrisman occasionally can’t sit or stand. On a good day he can walk outside to pick up a single log for the fireplace in the couple’s unheated two-bedroom cabin.

The Chrismans earned about $32,000 a year between his earnings and his wife’s $10 hourly wage cleaning laundry at a Smoky Mountain resort. The mounting medical bills and Chrisman’s lost wages devastated his wife, who tried to arrange payment plans with medical providers. Chrisman applied for disability in November 2017. The rejection letter came six months later.

“Although your therapy is currently causing you discomfort, it is expected these effects will be temporary,” said the denial letter, based on the recommendation from Thrush.

Joyce Chrisman cried when she read the letter.

Mistakes unlikely to be caught

The disability process has two layers of oversight designed to catch errors, but doctors know there is little likelihood anyone would catch a mistake in denying someone’s application.

First, a quality assurance department in Nashville spot-checks approvals and denials to make sure staff and doctors have followed procedures. Then, federal regional offices review a portion of disability applications.

Tennessee has consistently ranked high in the quality of its case reviews, averaging a 95.8 percent quality rating since 2016, said Arnold, the state spokesman. In 2017 DDS earned a Social Security Administration “Phoenix Award” for its performance.

But the state and federal offices review a tiny percentage of denied disability claims for accuracy.

By law, half of all approvals by state DDS personnel are reviewed by Social Security Administration staff — a provision meant to safeguard public funds.

The law, however, doesn’t set specific requirements for denials. As a result, the Social Security Administration reviewed fewer than 2 percent of all rejections, according to an analysis by the National Association of Social Security Claims Representatives.

“If the adjudicator is making poor decisions, if they tend towards denials, they’re just not going to be reviewed,” said Jen Burdick, an attorney with Community Legal Services of Philadelphia. She is is among advocates nationwide asking for Social Security to review more denials.

Wrongful denials may be appealed, but long delays for a hearing can take a devastating  toll in lost wages, lack of access to health care and medical bills. In fiscal year 2017, at least 9,570 people died waiting for their disability appeals to be heard.

Speed pays — sometimes millions

The Social Security Administration oversees two disability programs: Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, for low-income individuals without a work history, and Social Security Disability Insurance for workers who become disabled.

The federal government delegates to the states the administration of the programs. Tennessee received $8.5 million last year from the Social Security Administration to hire medical consultants with a variety of specialties to review medical records.

These doctors never examine claimants in person, although they occasionally order a physical exam by another doctor.

Seven days a week, setting their own schedules, the doctors swipe their badges to access secured floors of a brown and glass office building on the outskirts of downtown Nashville, logging into a computer system that generates a queue of cases to review.

Some applications contain just a few pages. Others include hundreds of pages of doctor’s notes, hospital reports, X-rays, lab results and employment records. Doctors must write a brief report to justify their findings, too.

The decision to grant or deny benefits is officially made by a state employee, but doctors who work for the state say it is their recommendation that carries the most weight.

For this work, the doctors are paid a flat fee ranging from $30 to $47 per case. Doctors also bill $68 per hour in most instances for the time they spend consulting with staff or mentoring other physicians. Use the database below to search for physicians. Like Thrush, some of these doctors work very fast.

Dr. Kanika Chaudhuri, a pediatrician, evaluated 3,872 cases last fiscal year, averaging more than four cases per hour when she worked. She earned $192,000 in fiscal 2018 and $1.1 million since 2013.

Out of all the cases Chaudhuri reviewed over the five years, 78 percent were denied, according to data provided by the state. State officials later noted that the denial data included cases in which multiple doctors made assessments, meaning Chaudhuri and other doctors may not have made the final assessment.

Asked whether she felt pressured to review cases too quickly, Chaudhuri said: “No direct pressure. They recommend that we must keep up. They always recommend you do your best. There are so many applications and so few doctors. We are overwhelmed with cases.”

Jenaan Khaleeli, a psychologist, has averaged 4½ cases an hour since 2013. Nearly 80 percent of those cases were denied. Over the five years, Khaleeli earned $1.2 million, including $209,000 in fiscal 2018.

Dr. Frank Pennington, an ear, nose and throat specialist who is also a felon, earned $144,000 reviewing cases in fiscal 2018, and more than $1 million since 2013. During the five-year period he reviewed 20,835 cases, at a rate of three per hour.

Pennington is one of five contract physicians with a history of misconduct. Pennington is confined to the administrative practice of medicine after three separate felony cocaine convictions and two stints in federal prison in the 1990s.

Thrush had his license placed on probation for four years in 2008 after he  pleaded guilty to prescription fraud in 2006. Arnold, the DHS spokesman, said the physicians were all doctors in good standing while employed.

“It’s important to remember these are not forward-facing doctors,” Arnold said. “Their role is to examine medical records and reports. They do not meet with patients in person.” Thrush, Pennington and Khaleeli did not respond to messages.

‘A flawed system’

Tennessee’s pay-by-the-case model — and the sums paid to contract doctors — surprised even advocates and attorneys who routinely assist people with disabilities. “There is an obvious financial incentive under such a payment arrangement — to process cases as quickly as possible,” said Russ Overby, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee, who represents individuals seeking disability.

“I am concerned that some clients who are in fact eligible for disability benefits will be denied because there has not been a sufficient review of the case.” Carrie Hobbs Guiden, executive director of The Arc of Tennessee, advocates for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities who occasionally apply for Social Security disability benefits. Doctors have to invest the time to properly review cases, she said, especially when it involves people with untreated mental health issues.

“If they’re getting paid based on how many they get done, that’s a flawed system,” Guiden said. “That’s not encouraging quality. You have to question if the purpose is to deny as many people as possible.”

Under pressure to meet ‘workload goals’

State disability determination departments face enormous pressures to meet “workload goals” set by the Social Security Administration.

In 2018, the Social Security Administration set a goal of 103,161 disability applications to be cleared by Tennessee’s office.

The staff and consultants needed to clear those cases in Tennessee have shrunk by 24 percent between 2010 and 2016.

Failure to meet goals can result in a financial penalty from the federal government, according to Jeffrey Price, the past legislative director for the National Association of Disability Examiners.

Doctors elsewhere push back

About half of all state disability offices in the United States operate on a similar model to Tennessee’s, in which physicians reviewing applications are paid by the case, according to Price.

The contract model, in which doctors receive a fee for each assessment, introduces some risks, Price said.

“If you were paid by the case, it behooves you to sign off on as many cases as you can,” he said. “I think that model at least has the potential for increased error rates.

“A doctor can review cases effectively at about two cases per hour,” Price said. “You’re hoping that the doctor will actually look at the whole case, not just what the examiner wrote.”

Doctors like Thrush, who processed more than five cases per hour, might be valued in an office trying to shovel itself out of a large caseload, Price said, but the pace is implausible.

“I think that would be dangerous, actually,” Price said. “Inherently you would be missing something if you’re looking at five cases an hour.”

At the North Carolina Disability Determination Services office, where Price has worked for nearly 40 years, managers recently asked doctors to process an average of three cases per hour instead of two. Doctors in that office are all on staff, as opposed to contractors.

“Some of our doctors are pushing back,” Price said. “They say that’s too many.”

A rule put into place by the Social Security Administration in 2017 has made the work of DDS physicians even more critical in deciding an outcome of an application.

Previously a “treating physician rule” required DDS to give more weight to the opinions of an applicant’s personal doctor than doctors hired by DDS. That rule was eliminated, giving doctors hired by DDS more influence in deciding the outcome of applications.

‘Something needs to be done’

After Chrisman was denied, he and his wife found a lawyer in Sevierville to file a request for reconsideration.

In September, Joyce Chrisman came home from work and brought the mail inside their cabin. The letter from Social Security said, “We found that you became disabled under our rules on November 8, 2017.” That was the day after she urged Chrisman to visit the walk-in clinic.

Another physician had examined Alan Chrisman’s file and recommended he be granted disability.

“We said ‘wow,’ ” Chrisman said. “We couldn’t believe it.”

George Garrison, his lawyer, said he was troubled by The Tennessean’s findings.

“People come to me at a point they’re about to lose everything they’ve got,” he said. “They’re sick. They’re dying. They’re having to deal with a complex system.”

The benefit meant that Joyce Chrisman no longer had to worry about paying medical bills. The bills would be paid dating back to the time her husband applied for disability.

His disability approval also automatically qualified Alan Chrisman for TennCare, which is now covering his ongoing chemotherapy, medications and hospitalizations.

Chrisman sits on his couch most of the time. He’s on his 11th dose of chemotherapy. After his 12th next month, he will return for a scan. “Then we’ll go from there,” he said.

Thinking about the months he spent rejected — when he and his wife were barely scraping by — Chrisman gets angry.

“Something needs to be done,” he said. “They’re either getting too much of a caseload or they’re getting greedy.”


Sick dad kills himself days before Christmas after being found fit for work

EXCLUSIVE: Kevin Dooley was found hanged by his daughter after assessors pulled his employment support allowance

Kevin Dooley was found by his daughter Leanne 

A chronically ill dad killed himself days before Christmas after DWP staff ordered him back to work. Assessors stopped Kevin Dooley’s employment support allowance even though a doctor said he was too sick to do his job.

His daughter Leanne found him hanged after the painter and decorator, who suffered breathing problems caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lost an appeal.

She said: “Christmas will never be the same for our family. The Department for Work and Pensions should be disgusted with themselves.

“Over the last year Dad’s illness got worse, and he got less mobile. Whoever deemed him fit for work is a disgrace.” Dad-of-three Kevin, 48, was signed off five years ago and made ends meet on a £70-a-week ESA benefitand housing support. “He wanted to work, but couldn’t,” said Leanne, 27.

She told how her dad plunged into depression after a grilling at Leeds Centre for Health and Disability Assessments, run by outsourcing firm Maximus for the DWP. “He needed regular haematology appointments and was on three inhalers, steroids and antibiotics,” said the mum of two.

“But because he could walk to the shop and at times minded his grandkids, they said he could work.”

Kevin Dooley was deemed ‘fit for work’

After his appeal failed, Kevin became suicidal. Leanne said: “He worried he’d be homeless as he had to reapply for housing support. He said he thought taking his life was the only way out.”

As Jobcentre staff pressured him, Kevin saw a doctor who confirmed he was too ill to work. Leanne planned to help him take his case to a tribunal – but on December 17 she and twin sisters Paige and Collette, 18, received a text from their dad saying “I love you”.

Leanne found him at home. He died in hospital three days later.

He found out his ESA payments would stop

She now plans to tell an inquest about her dad’s ordeal. “He took his life because of what they did to him,” she said.

The Centre for Health and Disability Assessments said: “We make an assessment of how conditions impact on day-to-day life so DWP can make a decision on an individual’s eligibility for benefits.”

The DWP said a Universal Credit advance payment had been made to Mr Dooley on December 8 after the ESA appeal rejection letter on November 29. It said his “work requirement” had been turned off because he told his work coach he would be challenging the appeal decision.

If you need to speak to someone, Samaritans are available 24/7 by calling 116 123 or by emailing jo@samaritans.org


More than 90,000 sick and disabled people left waiting longer than 10 days for benefits

New figures reveal the DWP are failing to meet its own target on benefit payment delays.


The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is failing to meet it’s own target of ensuring that sick and disabled people don’t have to wait longer than 10 days to receive benefits. The number of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants left in limbo whilst waiting for ESA payments has soared over the last two years.

Amber Rudd should make ending Tory welfare cruelty her resolution

Figures obtained by Frank Field MP, who also chairs the Work and Pensions Select Committee, reveal that 20% of new claimants have been left waiting longer than 10 days to receive an initial payment. This is compared to just 13% in 2015/16. The figures also reveal than some ESA claimants are having to wait even longer, with 33,340 forced to wait three weeks or more.

Frank Field told the Independent that the delays were “inflicting misery” on sick and disabled people and are a “recruiting sergeant for food banks and money lenders”. “What these figures show is that this source of injustice is not just found in universal credit”, he said. “Delays across the board are inflicting misery on hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need of help from the welfare state.”


Rachel Hickman, senior parliamentary and public affairs adviser at Parkinson’s UK, said the delays were ‘wreaking havok’ on the lives of sick and disabled people. “Vital payments are delayed, and a huge amount of stress is piled on top of handling their often already difficult living situations”, she added.

“We hope this confirmation of the staggering scale of the failure will provide further incentive for the government urgently to work with us to improve the system and, by extension, the lives of thousands of vulnerable people. “The government has sat on its hands for too long – the time to act is now.”

Minesh Patel, policy and campaigns manager at disability charity Scope, added: “It’s imperative that the government acts to ensure our welfare system works for disabled people. “This needs to begin with reducing waiting times and overhauling the work capability assessment so it accurately identifies the barriers to work that disabled people face.”


Universal Credit dad-of-three tried to kill himself while on phone to DWP

Dean Lovell-Payne, 52, took a massive overdose in September 2018 after having to endure almost three months without receiving any benefits at all

A dad driven to despair by Universal Credit tried to kill himself while on the phone to the DWP after he was denied payment for 10 weeks. Dean Lovell-Payne, 52, who was incapacitated by a fall this summer, took a massive overdose in September 2018 after having to endure almost three months without receiving any benefits at all.

Now Dean, his partner Paula and their three children Andrew, 30, Lou, 17, and Phoebe, 15, have been forced to move into a house in woods on the outskirts of Bournemouth which is only accessible by a dirt track, meaning wheelchair-bound Dean is effectively housebound.

Amber Rudd should make ending Tory welfare cruelty her resolution

Despite pleading with the Universal Credit helpline, after the 10-week payment delay Dean said he felt he had no option but to take his own life during the call as he thought his life insurance would pay out more quickly.

He received his benefits the same day after police are believed to have alerted the DWP to the incident and a spokesman for the DWP said they ‘sympathised with the distress he felt’.

Disabled man receives 1p in Universal Credit to live on

The former ambulance worker, from Poole, Dorset, said: “Each and every day is horrendous. “I realised it was utterly hopeless and that my life insurance would be more likely to pay out in time to help my family than Universal Credit was.


“I thought it was my only option to stop them suffering. “I took an overdose. “I didn’t even hang-up the phone. I told the soulless b*****d exactly what I was doing. “It seemed like the only way my family would be safe and no longer suffering, the only end to the hardship and insecurity.

“The next thing I knew the police and ambulance arrived. “I survived the overdose because I had tolerance to the painkillers and sleeping tablets I had taken, by luck more than judgement. “But I am not the same person. I’m anxious, fearful and distrusting of anyone in the benefits system. “Although I survived, I don’t see much of a future for myself.”

Ex-paramedic Dean used to be an ambulance worker for the NHS

Dean has been on benefits since 2011 after he developed sepsis and global nerve and joint pain following an operation. Despite his health improving and being able to work part-time with the ambulance service, he suffered a major fall and subsequent infection in June which prevented him from walking.

Forced to move to a cheaper home, Dean applied for Universal Credit the same month. But he said their new house, which is a converted motel in isolated woodland outside Bournemouth near Ringwood, Dorset, is totally inadequate for he and his family to live in.

Dean said: “The access to the house is terrible. “It’s just gravel tracks and sometimes I feel like a prisoner in here. The house is very, very cold in the winter too. “Half the month we don’t have any heating because we can’t afford to heat the house.” But after going through the necessary checks, Dean was told that he would have to wait five weeks for the payment to be processed.

He claims the delay of 10 weeks in total meant he and Paula came close to being forced to put their children into care and meant that they extinguished any meagre savings the couple had

He said: “Five weeks came and went. We waited and waited and were reaching crunch time. “Our money had long since run out and the end of the school holidays meant the knock-on effects of no universal credit were going to bite.

“Without confirmed Universal Credit we could not get our kids to school, could not sort out their free school meals or feed them at home. “We also had letters from council tax demanding money. “We couldn’t get my prescriptions either all of our standing orders were set to bounce within days.

“The only safety net I had left for my family was my life insurance.” Dean said that although he survived his overdose, his life has not improved. He added: “I struggle out of bed in the morning to take my daughter to school and then get back into bed. “I’ve worked all my life but am made to feel like I’m worthless just because I’m too sick to work. “I feel helpless. There doesn’t seem to be anywhere to turn.”

Paula, who is Dean’s full-time carer and has to carry him to the car daily so he can drive his daughter to school, said: “I don’t know from one day to the next if we can get my daughter to school or not.

“We’re supposed to provide for our family but we can’t. I watch Dean struggle day to day and it’s terrible. “I feel like a failure as a mother because we can’t do the things for our kids that we’re supposed to.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “We sympathise with the distress Mr Lovell-Payne felt. YEAH SURE THEY DO!!! “Jobcentre staff handled his claim sensitively and in line with their duty of care. “A Universal Credit payment was made as soon as Mr Lovell-Payne’s claim had been properly verified.”


Universal Credit articles from [late] 2018

250K disabled people told to fill in senseless 45-page form to win back their benefits

EXCLUSIVE: DWP chiefs have issued the forms to thousands who are owed £970m in unpaid ESA benefit – leaving people looking for details from seven years ago.

More than 250,000 sick and disabled people are being told to fill out a “scandalous” 45-page form to win back their benefits after a government blunder. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been branded “senseless” after asking families to recall intricate details from up to seven years ago.

The form asks claimants to state exact dates they were in hospital and give details of insurance payouts, mortgage payments and savings. Campaigners warn it is “passing the buck” to benefit claimants who now face an “unnecessary barrier” to justice.

Shadow Minister for Disabled People Marsha De Cordova branded the form “scandalous”, adding: “People will very often not have kept the evidence the DWP is asking for which could lead to many being denied vital support once again.”


The form is being sent to thousands of people who are owed £970m in unpaid Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) dating back to 2011. The blunder, revealed earlier this year, affects people who moved from older incapacity benefits to ESA between 2011 and 2014. In total 570,000 cases are being reviewed, of which 180,000 are expected to receive back payments by the end of 2019.

DWP chiefs insist everyone owed money will receive it. But some claimants expressed bafflement after the ESA3(IBR) form dropped on their doormats.

Carol Willoughby, 73, from Chessington, was asked to fill in details dating back to February 2013 for her 68-year-old husband Michael. Questions on her form included “please provide dates that you have been an inpatient in hospital” and requests to state amounts of lump-sum state pension, trust fund income and money set aside for essential repairs.

One page of the form asks about money set aside for repairs or from a pension
Mrs Willoughby told the Mirror: “The DWP were supposed to check all the errors and deal with it. “Now they’re putting the onus back onto us to provide all the information going back five years, half of which we won’t have any more.

“It will take me hours. They’re asking ‘have you been in hospital, when were you in, how long were you in for’.” Quizzed about Mr Willoughby’s case, the DWP told the Mirror 261,000 forms had been sent out.

Campaigners were left shocked by the huge figure – which comes weeks after the Mirror revealed up to 15,000 people caught up in the scandal had already died.

James Taylor, Head of Policy at disability charity Scope, said: “This feels like the DWP is passing the buck onto disabled people and their families. “They have already been short-changed by bureaucratic errors in the welfare system that go back nearly a decade.

“The DWP need to make sure that those who have missed out on their full ESA entitlement are payed back promptly with the minimum amount of stress and anxiety.” Claimants are also asked to provide details of payments from ex-partners, if relevant.

Ayaz Manji, policy officer at mental health charity Mind, said the DWP must ensure “nobody falls through the gaps”. He added: “Those of us with mental health problems can struggle to navigate a complex application process.

“The DWP needs to do all it can to take responsibility for fixing these errors.”It’s senseless to place unnecessary barriers in front of those who have already gone through a lengthy, complicated and stressful process.”

A DWP spokeswoman insisted people only need to complete sections that are relevant to their circumstances.

Officials said anyone can seek help completing the form over the phone, and where needed staff can arrange a home visit. DWP officials are also contacting recipients who they do not hear from within three weeks of sending out a form.

A DWP spokeswoman said: “We want to have all the information we need to make sure everyone gets the money they are owed and anyone can provide this over the phone with our support.”


Bed-bound MS sufferer has disability benefits halved because he could touch his nose with his finger

Paul Powell, 50, also had his mobility car taken off him – leaving him and his carer wife feeling isolated

Glenice said her husband would rather be working than lying in bed all day feeling ill (Photo: Glenice Powell)

  • Glenice Powell says her husband’s PIP being cut has made life a struggle
    They can’t always afford to have the heating on – which worsens Paul’s MS
  • Waiting months to hear about Universal Credit decision – he’s been asked what work he can do
  • On the odd day, Paul Powell can get out of bed and walk to the bathroom, though he’ll be wobbly on his feet.

But he spends the majority of his time in bed with fatigue and no strength.

Indeed multiple sclerosis (MS) – which the 50-year-old has suffered with for more than 20 years – is known as a disease of ‘good days’ and ‘bad days’. For some with more progressive types, it’s ‘bad days’ and ‘not-as-bad’ days which is the case for Paul.

But after an assessor came to visit him over his claim for Personal Independence Payments (PIP), his mobility car was taken off him – which left him virtually housebound in a remote village with no public transport links.


His disability benefit income was more than halved too – money he relied on to heat his house. “Paul’s MS is terrible in the cold and he really goes downhill in the winter,” his wife Glenice told i. “His legs just give way. “His money went from £468 a month to £229. I’m not working because I’m his full-time carer so it’s had a huge financial strain on us.”

The couple are speaking out to support the MS Society’s 2018 Christmas Appeal. i has partnered up with the charity to ask for donations from readers which will be used to offer grants for equipment and services that improve the quality of life of people with the disabling condition.

‘We’ve had to cut back on everything’
MS is a disease of the central nervous system where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the insulation around nerve cells (myelin) in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. More than 100,000 people in the UK have the condition.Paul was diagnosed with the relapse remitting form – when people have distinct attacks of symptoms which then fade away either partially or completely – aged 30 when his ankle went weak and he lost his eyesight.

After eight years, his symptoms worsened and he developed the secondary progressive form, when a person no longer has relapses then gets better, and their disability gets steadily worse.

It forced him to give up his job as a painter and decorator. “Paul has severe backache and is never not in pain,” said Glenice. “He also has a shadow on his brain which causes very bad headaches. He spends much of the day in darkness as bright lights affect his eyes. He finds it difficult to talk to people as he gets very confused and tongue-tied.”

“We feel really isolated, but we can’t afford the petrol to go out”

He was awarded a lifetime award for Disability Living Allowance (DLA), with high rate mobility and middle rate care, as well as a Motability car, until the benefit ended and he was switched to PIP last year.

He and his wife – who was then suffering from lung cancer – were astonished that he had lost the higher rate mobility and care. “Paul isn’t able to walk very far and uses a walking stick or sometimes a wheelchair.

“At the time we were living in a very isolated village, and the car was a lifeline for us. We use it to get to regular doctor and hospital appointments. We have moved now but we’re still not on a public transport route.

“We’ve had to cut back on everything. We used my life savings to buy a new car and that’s completely drained us. “Other than medical appointments we rarely go out. We feel really isolated, but we can’t afford the petrol to go out.”

‘Unfair’ assessment
It does feel like just because he could touch his nose with his finger that day he had his benefits halved. Other days he can’t do all these things at all.

Glenice, 60, from Much Dewchurch, Herefordshire, said the assessor had no idea what life is like for people with MS. “They sent a psychiatric nurse and I don’t think he understood that the disease caused good days and bad days, or bad days and not-as-bad days as the case is for Paul,” she said.

“He came to our home and asked questions for an hour and a half. Paul was in bed that day, not feeling well at all.

“He was asked to walk to the bathroom, stand on one foot and touch his nose with his finger. He managed to do all of it, but he was very unstable on his feet. He was asked to put his socks on and I had to help with that.

“It does feel like just because he could touch his nose with his finger that day he had his benefits halved. Other days he can’t do all these things at all.

“I challenged this decision but the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said they were satisfied with the assessor and that Paul didn’t have enough points to qualify for PIP. “You’re made to feel like you’re a fraud. It makes me angry because Paul didn’t choose to have MS. He would rather be working than lying in bed all day feeling ill.”

Loss of thousands
When the Powells moved house last summer they moved into an area where Universal Credit had been rolled out, which meant Paul had to switch to this from Employment and Support Allowance.

“Paul has been made to sign on at the Job Centre every two weeks and they’re asking him how many hours he’s available for work which is ridiculous. He hasn’t been able to for 12 years. “We’ve now been waiting for an answer for four months over whether they deem him fit to work. It’s very stressful.”

The couple took their case to tribunal, and last week just found out that the DWP has agreed to reverse its decision over Paul’s PIP. But they have only got back-dated pay from May this year when they lodged their appeal.

“We are pleased but it’s been a real battle and a lot of stress to get what Paul should have been entitled to in the first place,” said Glenice. “And we are not getting back-dated pay for the three years when his benefits were halved – that comes to over £8,000.”

The DWP spokesperson said: “We introduced PIP to replace the outdated DLA system. Under PIP 52 per cent of people with MS receive the highest possible award, compared with 39 per cent under the previous benefit DLA. Since PIP was introduced there have been 3.7 million decisions and of these, 5 per cent have been overturned. Where decisions are overturned, often further evidence has been provided.

“We work closely with organisations such as the MS Society to ensure that PIP is working in the best way possible, and we recently announced that people with the most severe, life-long conditions will no longer have to attend regular reviews for PIP.”