Cockroft’s fear of PIP reassessment and losing independence as she heads for Rio


One of Britain’s biggest stars from the London 2012 Paralympics has said she is “scared” that she will lose her independence when she is reassessed for the government’s new disability benefit.

Wheelchair racer Hannah Cockroft has yet to be assessed for personal independence payment (PIP), which was launched by the government the year after London 2012 with the aim of cutting spending on working-age disability living allowance (DLA) by 20 per cent.

Cockroft (pictured), who won two track gold medals at London 2012 and is going for three in Rio, told Disability News Service (DNS) that she dreads the reassessment, the possibility of having her support cut, and potentially losing the car she leases through the Motability scheme as a claimant of the higher rate mobility component of DLA.

She said: “I haven’t yet been hit by PIP, I haven’t been called up for my assessment, but honestly, it scares me.

“If I don’t have my car I will lose everything, I will lose my independence.

“I know people will say, ‘Oh, you can afford a car, you can afford this, you can afford that,’ but the truth of the matter is that I am a Paralympian so I don’t actually make enough money to even move out of my parents’ house. I can’t live without my car.”

Speaking on Saturday (16 July), as she and many of the rest of the ParalympicsGB team took part in media interviews, and prepared to enjoy a celebratory team dinner in London before the final countdown to the Rio games, which begin on 7 September, Cockroft said: “Honestly, it scares me.

“The fact that I am a Paralympian makes it worse because you are selling yourself on things you can do.

“They know what you can do, they see it on telly, they see it every day, they think that you’re maybe more able than you are.”

Like many tens of thousands of other disabled people with physical impairments, she fears the tighter eligibility criteria under PIP which mean that claimants only qualify for the enhanced mobility rate – and therefore entitlement to lease a Motability car – if they are unable to walk more than 20 metres, rather than 50 metres under DLA. 

She said: “I am strong pushing a wheelchair, but ask me to walk down the street and I’m probably going to land on my face in about two minutes, but not in 30 metres, depending on where we are.”

When told by DNS of last week’s story, which quoted Motability’s own figures showing that 35,000 disabled people are expected to lose their vehicles this year as a result of being reassessed for PIP, she said: “It breaks my heart, it absolutely breaks my heart.”

Cockroft said she understands that some people are “playing the system” but she points to her boyfriend, Sam Ruddock, a fellow Paralympic athlete, who has cerebral palsy and has even been turned down for a blue parking badge.

She said: “He can’t even get a blue badge because on a sunny day when he hadn’t trained and he was walking on a flat piece of ground, they said he was too able.

“But what happens when it’s snowing, or it’s wet and he has to walk over uneven ground and he’s had a heavy day walking, and he’s tired? What happens then? Apparently that doesn’t count.

“He just tried to get a blue badge to make life a little bit easier and he didn’t get it. How can you not be disabled if you’re a Paralympian?”

  • User Ratings (10 Votes)
  • Katrina Cornish

    If you are honest about the things you can and cant do you will be fine, yes you can push your own wheelchair, but can u get yourself in and out of a bath, can u walk 10 feet? no you cant, your benefit should not change if your disability is no different from when you claimed DLA, i had my pip assessment and am still awaiting the decision but the lady who did the assessment was lovely, she understood what my disability is and how it effects my daily life and in fact told corrected me when i said oh i try and do this or that, she said yeah but you cant do it all the time can you and not without supervision, I will be very shocked if i lose money as i am worse now than when i applied for DLA, always describe your worst day, the things you cannot do and if you can do something on one day but not others explain it varies but more often than not you need help.

    • PageMonster

      It is simply untrue that if you’re honest, you will be “fine”. PIP was deliberately engineered to throw a proportion of present DLA claimants of the system. Those doing the assessments are not experts. They are making shedloads of money at the expense of Disabled people.

      • Katrina Cornish

        my reviews have always been with ATOS, everyone scaremongering about how bad they are, i have never had a bad review, i have always been seen by an actual medical professional. the first was a Dr. who already knew what Dystonia is and the last one was a nurse who had spent time looking it up and researching what the condition meant too my daily life. I think its such a shame you never hear the good comments about these people, only the bad ones like yours

        • PageMonster

          I’m glad you were lucky. You’re in a minority. I cannot pretend otherwise. I’ve heard too many horror stories. I haven’t been “migrated” yet, but I don’t trust the system as it stands.

          • Katrina Cornish

            thats exactly my point, all you have heard is the horror stories, so very few of the people who have had a good experience bother to say anything, it just fuels the scaremongering

          • PageMonster

            It’s not scaremongering if it’s people’s real experiences.

          • Donna Keedwell

            Us “lucky” people aren’t actually in the minority, it just feels like it because every horror story gets posted all over social media and the people who apply and get awarded PiP just get on with it so you don’t hear about us.

            Don’t get me wrong, far too many people are wrongly assessed as the appeal statistics clearly demonstrate but it isn’t the “majority” of cases.

            Katrina, people sharing their honest experiences isn’t scaremongering. The system really is broken and very unfair and too many false assessments end up costing people their life line.

  • Jean Stones

    I do wish people no matter if they are disabled or not would stop referring to some people as playing the system , You might as well call them scroungers or cheaters ,why would you say something like that you know how hard it is to get benefits, yet you say things giving the Tory government the ammunition to keep cutting disability benefits , because cording to you and others like you, there are some people trying to play the system , until you said that I was with you and hopping you would be ok , I hope you will be ok try not to be leave every thing the Tories tell you

  • Nik Gnomic

    shame on you Hannah Cockroft. maybe if you took some time to do a small amount of checking into reality of how tiny the amount of fraud within the benefit system actually is, you might not make such a dismissive remark of other disabled folks
    You can llive without a car – spare a thought for those living without food or shelter

  • changetheimage

    PIP, admittedly, is controversial. But, applicants do have to accrue a minimum number of points based on their own circumstance. As does the blue badge. Being ‘disabled’ does not mean you automatically qualify. On the flip side if you aren’t awarded either it doesn’t mean you aren’t disabled. Also, living with your parents is, in this day and age, perfectly normal. Even for those in employment. Buying a car isn’t out of reach though. Hannah is in a much better position than the majority of people with disabilities (and non disabled given the current press coverage). She might not even have to meet the full cost, with a bit of cajoling I am sure she can find a manufacture/dealership to part sponsor. Adaptive controls can be moved from one to another too so they can be ‘one-off’ purchase. Interesting though isn’t it – millions of disabled ‘get by’ but the public are exposed to two smaller groups of the ‘superhuman’ and ‘PIPettes’ In this instant Hannah is representing both…