Fresh concerns have been raised about the integrity of the disability benefits system, after a disabled woman’s appeal against having her benefits removed was rejected before she was even told her claim had been turned down.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) sent Mandy Moseley a mandatory reconsideration notice, confirming that her appeal against the decision to reject her claim for the new personal independence payment (PIP) had been unsuccessful.
But she was astonished to receive the letter because she had not yet been told the result of her claim.
Until a claimant receives a decision notice that informs them of the result of their claim, they cannot ask for a mandatory reconsideration (MR) of that decision, and she had not done so.
Moseley, from Birmingham, who was assessed on 28 June, had been receiving disability living allowance since 2004, and has been receiving the highest rates of that benefit since 2007, but has been told by DWP that she will receive no PIP at all, a decision which has cost her £141 a week.
She said: “They are saying it was a mistake and it was an internal document. How can it be an internal document if it’s [described] as a mandatory reconsideration?”
She believes her case proves DWP is preparing the MR notices – automatically turning down the first-stage appeals – at the same time it prepares the original decision notices.
Disabled activists have been questioning for months why success rates for MRs are so low, when so many appeals that are taken to tribunal – the next stage of the appeal process after the MR – are successful.
A DWP spokesman said: “Clearly, this was a clerical error. We’ve apologised to Ms Moseley and asked her to ignore the letter.
“Any mandatory reconsideration outcome would be based on an appeal being lodged in the first place, and Ms Moseley hadn’t even received her decision notice.”
But Moseley said she was “disgusted” by DWP’s tactics, and added: “I am just astounded by what they have done.”
She has a number of long-term health conditions, currently receives 17 hours of care a week from her local authority, is constantly in pain, and is awaiting training so she can start using a white cane because of her deteriorating vision.
After her son moves out from the family home in October, she has been told by her local council that she will probably receive 40 hours of care a week.
But she was awarded a total of just two points after being assessed. She would have needed eight for the standard rate and 12 for the enhanced rate of the daily living and mobility components of PIP.