PIP investigation: 100 cases, and still DWP refuses to accept the dishonest truth

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The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has denied there is any dishonesty among the healthcare professionals who carry out its benefits assessments, even though Disability News Service (DNS) has now collected 100 cases where such allegations have been made.

Disabled people have continued to come forward with their personal stories since DNS published the results of a two-month investigation into claims that nurses and other healthcare professionals had lied in reports they wrote after face-to-face assessments for personal independence payment (PIP).

This week, DNS was made aware of the 100th case in which a PIP claimant has alleged that a health professional working for government contractors Capita and Atos produced a dishonest assessment report.

One PIP claimant told DNS this week: “When I received the DWP decision, I couldn’t believe what I was reading.

“For example, ‘I was observed to drink from a cup and that I had shown good grip, gripping the assessor’s fingers.’

“I never touched the man, and he never touched me.

“When I finally received the full assessor’s report, I was flabbergasted at the inaccuracies, misinformation and at worst, blatant fabrication.

“Even general information, about my home, layout of my home, aids in my home and aids that weren’t even in my home, were reported as fact. It was completely made up, even the type of clothing I wear.”

Another PIP claimant wrote on the DNS Facebook page how she had broken down and cried three times at her assessment, how her husband helped with her notes, how she was unable to answer many of the questions because she was so exhausted and distressed, how she had to wear dark glasses during the assessment because the light was too bright, and how she had only looked at the assessor once.

But she said: “She wrote in her report that I coped well, had good eye contact, didn’t appear anxious or distressed, answered all the questions unprompted and well.

“She lied about almost every single aspect of the assessment.

“Now I’ve lost my car (my independence) and will have to fight this at a tribunal, which I’m dreading.”

The wife of another PIP claimant described how the assessor twice ignored all of the medical evidence he provided, and lied about contacting her husband’s consultant and cardiac nurse.

She said the system was “a bloody nightmare”, and added: “He has a severe heart condition and heart failure, but PIP totally ignored what he told them.

“The assessor was one of the rudest people I have ever come across, told me to shut up and be quiet or he would stop the interview.

“My husband was really struggling with the situation but I wasn’t allowed to help him or say anything.”

A PIP claimant who commented on the investigation through the DNS website said: “The report detailed that I spoke with confidence and cracked jokes, when actually it was my brother who spoke.

“The report detailed a physical examination in which she claimed she examined my ankles, knees, hips, back, shoulders, elbows, wrists and dexterity.

“No such examination was carried out.

“She also claimed to witness me bending down to sign out, when my brother is the one who signed us out.”

The Commons work and pensions select committee is due to make a decision in the next few weeks on whether to launch an inquiry into the allegations of dishonesty in the PIP assessment process.

And DNS has submitted anonymised evidence to the independent review of PIP being carried out by former civil servant Paul Gray on DWP’s behalf.

But asked if ministers were still insisting that there was no dishonesty among their assessors, and that they had no concerns about the issues raised by the investigation, a DWP spokeswoman said: “We expect the highest standards from the contractors who carry out PIP assessments.

“We do not accept it to be the case that there is dishonesty amongst them.

“We are committed to making sure the PIP assessment process works fairly and effectively, which is why we welcome independent reviews such as the ones led by Paul Gray, the second of which is expected in April 2017.

“Anyone not happy with their benefit decision can ask for it to be looked at again, and then appeal to an independent tribunal.

“There is also a comprehensive complaints procedure in place.”

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  • AngrySpaz

    “There is also a comprehensive complaints procedure in place”

    Who are you trying to fool???

    ATOS screwed me, so I complained to DWP who said they couldn’t do a single thing, because ATOS are a privately owned company not governed by DWP.

    Complaining to ATOS is useless as they defend their employees, whos entire job role of examinations is target driven, so the assessors are given brownie points for saying you are fine.

    Somebody needs to look into this!
    I tried, but ATOS don’t even record any calls!!

    • Diane Illingworth

      I totally agree with you. This assessment is all about getting people off disability and to save money. Wait a moment though Atos and Capita earned £500 million for hitting their targets great incentive do you not think. I can not understand how they had targets to hit of about 5032 thousand but that is without knowing nothing about the disabled people, how does that work. I do feel for the disabled as without the use of a car,scooter or financial help then just think about the worry they have to live, not only disabled but now penniless. Nobody wants to be ill but Gt Britain is not what are generations of families fought for disgusting actions they are taking

    • OperationTempura

      I’ve been down this road with Capita and the reality is that the clowns who drew up the contracts for the PIP assessments made absolutely certain that DWP could not interfere in any disciplinary issues involving the private employers. That’s why ICE doesn’t work. There are DWP ‘liaison officers’ but the one I was in touch with in 2015 said they just ignored him and there was nothing he do about it. He tried for three months to get a reply to a fairly simple query – they ignored his phone calls and emails so then he wrote to them giving a 28-day deadline for response but that was ignored as well.

      Bottom line is someone signed off on nearly half-a-billion quid in contracts that don’t include scope for any official oversight or penalties for non-performance. Makes you wonder how many MPs and senior civil servants have connections to companies like Atos and Capita doesn’t it?

  • Shirley sumner

    The assesor that did mine lued to said i open front door didnt my husband did she made me try walk i cant im in wheel chair i collapes ive copd she said didnt seem like i had she was nasty to me nastiest person ive ever know she was rewriting form to put in for pip they took me off perminate not able go bk work took mobility off me i went to court it was court to 3 people in front of me my husband and surpirt worker was cut down when try speak the one who assed me was their hear her make nasty remark about me also judge told me off for not speak up i not have mic like her she said can u walk end of room i said no cant hear her say we know were this onez going i did get my mobility bk but not highest i still got middle care i felt i was on trial it was horrible i now got gangerine in foot i scared face them again and have that women assessor here i can do nothing for myself i jst want die now they scare me when i got put in for again ….Shirley

  • OperationTempura

    These reports need to be sent to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) who are due to revisit their 2016 report on private assessments (http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/atos-maximus-and-capita-forced-to-admit-assessment-failures/) in April. If you go to the PAC website it gives details of how to file evidence with them – http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-accounts-committee/contact-us/ – the video is very useful.

    The other thing people should be doing is filing complaints against the DWP staff who accept reports that contain obvious errors (eg. things like spelling mistakes, gibberish and contradictions) because according to Capita both the original decision makers and the officers who conduct the mandatory reconsiderations are supposed to be checking the reports and querying any issues like this. In the latter case they are also required to refer any complaints of misconduct by the assessor back to the service provider. The reality is that the people doing the work at DWP are handling so much of this complete rubbish they’ve simply given up because it’s quicker to rubber-stamp the report and let an Appeal Tribunal sort the mess out. However, by doing so they breach clear DWP guidelines on customer service by failing to take reasonable care to ensure their handling of the claim was fair, reasonable and impartial. Those guidelines are nothing new, they’re based in Common Law and go back to when I worked for the old DHSS in the 1970s – ignoring them was a disciplinary offence back then and it still is now.

  • Bdee

    I feel it is simply a form of eugenics, to starve us or put us in such direct position we take our own lives. The government has proven by taking no action and the way contracts are awarded that it does not care for disabled and would be quite happy for us all to disappear

  • duncan_thorburn

    I was on a Diareaha day, where I must get to a toilet within 10 seconds, as watery poo comes. This they didn’t mention at all, only to say: “he moved with ease”, it was a new Capital Assessor, with a Supervisor. “He announced this…”, “he made this statement”. These are templates they use, this they did on me. I went 7 months on £22.60 per week, this was ESA, PIP completely stopped. I decided t get an X-Ray for the Appeal, which said I have severe arthritis every where in my spine. This won me my Appeal, I got a call from my CAB Advisor, one hour before setting out, that they fully accepted my Appeal. Now I’ve got acute depression, I’m now very ill all the time. As an ex-coal miner, I thought myself tough, but I am always on the point of crying. Anything can set me off crying. Luckily, I live alone. Looking forward to death, gives me some comfort.

  • timmyjohnanners

    Record record record!!! They cannot stop you recording interviews in your own home however hard they try but the best bet is not to tell them of your recording ….Make sure you have a witness and if they lie use the transcript as your witness statement. ……. IF ANYONE IS INTERESTED I HAVE DEVISED A WAY OF APPLYING FOR P.I.P THAT BASICALLY PLAYS THE DWP AT THERE OWN GAME!!!!! I HAVE HELPED NUMEROUS GENUINELY DISABLED PEOPLE TO SUCCESSFULLY CLAIM/CHANGE TO PIP WITHOUT ASSESMENT OR APPEAL. EMAIL trishboard@btinternet.com

  • mandy smith

    I want to know why there isn’t a complaints procedure. ..the so called qualified nurse who assessed my husband not only blatantly lied on the assessment form, but couldn’t even get the obvious medical terms wright for his condition, which in the long run, along with the lies, went against my husbands ability to claim P.I.P…luckily the Doctor at the subsequent appeal saw this straight away. Which was fine…but the fact that the assessor lied and got away with lieing. ..makes me extremely angry.

    • Nina

      Probably because they’d be so overrun….

    • Benedict Farrer

      Because lying is so common amongst assessors that they would not cope with the volume of complaints.

  • Innes Jim

    these tales don’t surprise me when you pay extra for results and the results have to be the ones the company want then of course they will tell lies when you call a person who works in a hospital as a cleaner a health professional and pay an hourly rate plus bonus then yes they will lie to get more money so you see dishonesty does pay all interviews should be recorded and a copy given to all concerned

  • Lee Penstone

    I have just had my pip stopped and I didn’t even get to an assessment in fact I didn’t even know I had one. I’d had no letter and no reminder txt but ATOS said they sent them so it must be true I’ve tried to have the decision reconsider but as I didn’t get assessed there is nothing to reconsider I have the option to appeal but it’s a case of ATOS said I said and what chance do I have against these professional liars!!!

    • Lesley Goose Wainman

      My son has cerebral palsy and now has to appeal because we did not attend the appointment we didn’t even get a letter or text this system is wrong when they was awarded it for life in the 1st place !!

  • Andrew Goodall

    I live in fear of them stopping my money without it I couldn’t survive, I would be better off dead, constantly frightened which makes my anxiety and depression worse, it is no way to live , my Friend had his stopped and they lied on his report and he won his appeal but still hasn’t had any money

  • Ben

    About 4 years ago I had a PIP assessment done, before I had my WCA done. It took just over a year to process the PIP and then dates for my assessment were set. The nearest assessment was too far away, but they refused to do a home visit, instead they insisted I take several buses to get there and walk to the appointment, which was ludicrous,

    After constantly being to ill to get there, I eventually managed to take a taxi, during the course of my assessment no physical tests were done and the questions were weighed in such a way as to isolate them from the whole, can i prepare meals, like can I make a sandwich, for the last 4 years I have existed on cheese or peanut butter sandwiches because of this.

    After asking the tick box questions and ignoring things like needing help to dress, cook, prepare special meals etc. the assessor told me he had all he needed. Aside from special requirement, they made 3 fundamental errors in my assessment, 1. Instead of neuropathy in my feet and legs I confused that with retinopathy, they didn’t even notice, low/high blood sugar levels of 1.5/22 were described as normal blood pressure. Doh! High sleep score from Sleep Apnoea (i.e. chance of blacking out/falling asleep in public) they diagnosed that as getting plenty of sleep. I got a total of 3 points on the test and no PIP.

    All the medical evidence, contact numbers etc. were ignored, they did not contact anybody, I checked with the health professionals.

    Review of the decision did not pick up any of these faults, but unfortunately 1 month was not enough to summon the energy to take the matter to tribunal.

    By the time my WCA came up, specialists had identified what the problem was that was causing the exhaustion, fatigue, insulin resistance, glycogen levels etc. being that I have liver cirrhosis and an enlarged spleen 30 cm, instead of the normal 4 mm…I won’t go into the specifics other than to say my liver is failing…WCA awarded ESA support.

    After the WCA they recommended that I take the matter to tribunal, but unfortunately by then I was too sick, (why would they not then pick up that I should get PIP, surely DWP must be able to see all the information?) so for the last 3 years I have been struggling to afford food, get sufficient nutrition, afford some medical appointments not covered by NHS and travel to and from medical appointments etc.

    They saved money on my PIP which has caused a significant deterioration in my health, so I have been forced to try and get PIP again and go through the same process again, now have the forms and time to start the process again with 7 chronic health conditions..

  • Gemma

    The assesment process was a joke I sat with my friend during her home asssesment it was shocking how someone with M.E who is never going to get better was treated. The report afterwards did not reflect the assesment and they turned up a few hours early claiming it was a mistake no it wasnt it was done on purpose to throw her off and make her stressed she suffered a relaps afterwards. Im discusted and ashamed this is what disabled people go through how can.human beings lie like this.

  • Michelle Cardno

    You want more evidence I’ve some horrific stories on our books

  • Benedict Farrer

    Both PIP assessors and WCA assessors routinely lie. Lying is widespread amongst them. They lie constantly and continually.

  • Mary Cameron

    I too had an assessment as I was changing from DLA to pip….Been on middle rate care and high rate mobility since 1996 with a life time award….Now I have standard on both an loose my car which will now leave me housebound….I received my assessors report and it was full off lies lies and even more lies…..I’m now suffering from severe stress and having Palpitations etc….I’m disgusted !!!

  • Jacqui Yapp

    So apparently in my son’s case, the nurse is a mental health assessor, based on her own knowledge…. although not trained in Aspergers, Adhd or agoraphobia, and she can put on his files that he has no impairments at all, totally dismissing a TRUE professional who undertook many years of training to be a specialist who actually diagnosed him with severe daily issues. Hmm yes ok then. I wrote to the district manager for his file. It arrived this morning, and it is *likely he can* as written on their answers as to why he has no disability, is not factual and actually illegal. Legal action is now being sought after, to have his file turned to FACTS and not assumptions, by using the full force of the law. Shame on DWP for using lie after lie in trying to wriggle out of their responsibilities to the most vulnerable in society.

  • Kristen Cherrie

    I have aspergers syndrome. The nurse at my face to face assessment said I had no verbal communication difficulties because I can talk to my mother in the phone everyday. Which is a lie. All she asked is so I talk to my mother on the phone and I said yes, she added the every day part herself. As verbal communication difficulties are part of the diagnostic criteria for autism and was thoroughly tested over days by an expert in autism and documented in the diagnoses report given as evidence to the dwp there can only be one of two logical explanations. Either they are saying I don,t have autism or they don’t have even the basic understanding of what it is, totally ignored the diagnosis report and are not fit to assess my need fairly.

    • Andy Gardiner

      I have just had the same experience after taking my son for his PIP assesment. He has severe asperger’s, attended special schools and colleges and has a current care plan and statement from the local authority. I submitted copies of these and several psychologists reports with the claim form but they have ignored all of them and judged him to be capable of all the descriptors because he was able to sit in the interview and completed the few small mental tasks (spell WORLD backwards, add a simple sum). His previous award of DLA high rate care and lower mobility is now gone along with our carer’s allowance. His lack of physical disability is the only thing they have considered.

      There are also the usual distortions and lies in the report, I’m going through it at the moment so I can construct an appeal. Thankfully I recorded the interview (according to the rules on an approved tape machine with permission) so I have actual proof that they have lied and cheated. I’m prepared to add our case to any investigation.

  • Tamar Whyte

    If you are still looking for case studies, I have one and can put you in contact with others. Would it be worth putting a Class Action Suit against Capita? Profit seems to be the only driving force so maybe hitting them where it hurts will make a difference.

  • Jacqui Yapp

    Thank you. I am awaiting tribunal also. I belong on a forum that has contacts that are willing to fund the court cases if DWP refuse to comply with requests with the full force of the law behind us. I am on stage 2 of action at the moment. I have 6 children, all grown up, and 5 of them, including myself and my husband, work, and have done since leaving school. None of us claim jobseakers or disability except for the one. But in the case of this son, he is unable to live daily let alone work. I don’t intend to watch him lose his own independence because they want to dump on people who need help. Good luck to you too Kristen.

    • Kristen Cherrie

      I know the NAS are currently writing a report about the pip process seemingly totally ignoring autism as a disability. You are not alone in this as I think there are hundreds of people suffering the same way all over the UK. I know the NAS are inundated with autistic people and their parents having their pip and disability denied. Make sure you write to your MP too about this. If the same problem keeps being reported over and over again the government will have to eventually except the pip assessment are unfair and not fit for purpose. I know of autistic people in 24 hour care that are failing to get any pip award it’s bloody criminal. X

      • Jacqui Yapp

        100% agree. My local Councillor is on board. He is fab. My son suffers with autistic spectrum, adhd, agoraphobia and hyperkinnetic disorder, and social communication disability and high anxiety. He only ever leaves the house with family. His life is severely restricted. Yet he has no disability. I will fight with my whole soul 🙂

  • lifewithoutpainhasnomeaning

    Even my case was a tissue of lies. I turned up as I usually do, ten minutes early. I was shown to the ‘waiting area’ where I was told the meeting was, as per my form, due at 20 minutes past nine. There was then an announcement that there would be a delay due to an alcoholic (being aggressive), of five minutes as he was pushed up the queue. Ten minutes after the interview was due (9.30) I was taken in. We sat down, the ATOS ‘health professional’ told me she had all she needed from the Doctor and only a few additional questions were required. For a couple of minutes she asked me some vague questions, I answered them, and that was it. Five minutes, and over. I rang my daughter from the bus which was already on its way from the town centre, some ten minutes (it’s a five minute walk to the bus stop, luckily I jumped straight on, and the town centre is at least five minutes from the Jobcentre) later – at a quarter to ten (the phone recorded the time). When the DWP letter came through I was gob smacked. The ‘questionnaire’ I had ‘responded to’ was epic. I had answered three questions, and this, as you all know, contains about 50 – 60, many of which were key to my case, yet I had no chance to answer them! When the DWP follow up call came, I pointed this out and was treated with scorn. I asked how, in a five minute interview, had I managed to answer all those questions? Quick I am, clever I may be, but not THAT quick or clever. I was told, smugly, the interview lasted twenty minutes, hence there was plenty of time for the questions. To which I replied, not a chance, and I can prove it. At which point the smugness ended and the cold, ‘really’ attitude started. I lost the case, but the decision was later rescinded after ‘further investigation’. As you can see, even the most run of the mill cases were subject to a tissue of lies from ATOS/DWP. I’d hated to have been a sufferer of multiple disorders, needing home help and constant supervision. For those poor people it must be a living hell dealing with these lying, cheating toerags.

  • Karen Dickinson

    They came to my house said I could cook drive ect I am on morphine for got sake plus gabapentine so come under driving under the influence I have put my appeal in

  • David Lamond

    I speak for a 62 year old man who has had mobility allowance withdrawn , although it was previously described as being for an indefinite period, for over ten years. In the last ten years his mental and physical health has of course deteriorated with age – in fact he has not become better as the withdrawal of mobility allowance and also some financial support would suggest – he has become worse. He cries daily because without his car he becomes an alone prisoner in a small council property in Cornwall, a county that cannot exactly boast a reasonable transport system. He lives semi rurally and because of physical impairments which require the use of a walking aid, asthma and a recent heart operation he cannot walk to the end of his little road let alone the nearest bus stop. His GP surgery is miles away as is the nearest hospital.

    This seems such a cruel decision, made without any geographical assessments at all

    a feature that must surely be given consideration.

    My fear is for his future and without going into details think that this story could have a tragic ending. What on earth can one do?

  • Dave Fish

    I get pips medical assesment appointments every 2 months now… fed up with it… I am deeply suicidal. The questions about this are making me 1000% worse. I have even told them to STOP my pips… It’s just not worth losing my life for £300 A MONTH.

  • Scream Nevermore

    I have proof that my ‘assessor’, a doctor, lied. What she wrote in her report differed from the recording in several important respects – we can all prove it, so why isn’t something done about it? (Incidentally, she rated me at zero points. My appeal put me at 18.)

  • Roy Mcgee

    Ive recently had my assesment and waiting for the result. After reading this report and the comments I’m a bit concerned and perplexed, what advantage do the assessors get by lying?
    Can anyone tell me?