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Monday 1st
posted by Morning Star in Britain

BENEFITS assessments were ridiculed yesterday following revelations that 13,000 disabled claimants given “zero points” were later awarded payments on appeal.

New government figures show that 66,180 claimants had an original decision by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) overturned in their favour at a mandatory reconsideration or tribunal last year.

And 8,100 of these who initially scored zero points on the DWP tests were later awarded PIP by independent tribunals.

A further 5,030 applicants had their decision overturned at mandatory reconsideration, a system run by DWP that claimants must go through before appealing to tribunals.

Labour MP Chris Matheson, who received the figures in response to a written parliamentary question, said: “So many of my constituents come in here and clearly they have a disability or debilitating illnesses — and that’s from someone who’s medically qualified — and they’re getting knocked back for the most spurious reasons.

“Every time we challenge them — and we go into detail, my staff sit down with these constituents — we can see the guidelines haven’t been followed.

“When we challenge, so many cases get overturned or the number of points jumps right up.

“The system is broken and is designed to take money from people whose only crime is to be unlucky, to be born with a genetic problem or to suffer an accident that completely changes their life.”

He called for private companies Atos and Capita to stop doing the assessments and for the process to be brought back into the hands of civil servants.

Last year the DWP made around 940,000 decisions on PIP, suggesting that one in every 14 decisions eventually gets overturned in favour of the claimant.

Around 65 per cent of all cases that reach a tribunal are overturned, compared with 18 per cent reversed of all those at mandatory reconsideration.

Muscular Dystrophy UK head Robert Meadowcroft said: “PIP assessments are poor in quality and today’s data shows yet again just how seriously wrong they can be.

“Taken together with the fact that the majority of PIP cases that are appealed are overturned, this is evidently a system with failures that are both deep and widespread.

“Each case represents profound stress and financial uncertainty for a disabled person.”

The DWP claims only a fraction of PIP decisions are overturned.