Charity demands action after woman claims she felt ‘like a lesser human’ at PIP interview

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Disability charity Scope has spoken to thousands of its members including Carol, a 44-year-old from Leeds who has multiple health conditions including Osteoarthritis, ADHD and Premature Ovarian Insufficiency. She has spoken out about how the assessment process needs to be overhauled as it left her feeling ‘like a lesser human’.

Although Carol Vickers has been claiming PIP for several years, she had her benefits cut at her last assessment which now means she won’t be able to get to work or to health appointments.

Speaking to Scope, she said: “I used to get lower rate daily living and mobility, but the mobility element was removed completely at my review assessment.

“I challenged this, as my medical records clearly show that my left hip is crumbled and misshapen and I am under the care of an orthopaedic surgeon.

“I was told that as I said my assistance dog gets items off low shelves in supermarkets, this was evidence that I can walk around a shop.”

The woman from Leeds said that she explained that she could not walk any steps at all without pain but felt like her words were falling on deaf ears.

She continued: “My assessor didn’t seem to think pain was a factor, despite me having a visible limp and explaining how walking really takes its toll.

“Even a small distance makes me very tired and sore, and I pay the price the next day.

“But she didn’t seem interested in any of that – just whether or not I could put one foot in front of the other.”

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The woman added that despite submitting the contact details of the medical professionals who cared for her, she doesn’t believe any were contacted for their specialist opinion.

Not only this but she claimed her assessment report was wildly inaccurate and “‘directly contradicted what had happened at the appointment”.

She challenged the report through the Mandatory Reconsideration process but she said it made no difference.

Carol added: “I didn’t go for a full appeal because I was exhausted after the process.

 “I was so distressed by the whole reassessment experience and so angry and tired.

“The whole system makes me anxious, makes me worry for my future security, and makes me feel like a lesser human.”

On the back of complaints like this disability equality charity Scope has launched a new campaign urging the government to make the benefits system work for disabled people instead of against them.

It has started a petition calling for disabled people to have the right to request a specialist assessor – which has been backed by other charities including the National Autistic Society, Sense and Disability Rights UK, and high-profile campaigners including Lucy Dawson, Sophie Morgan and Richard Herring.

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Additionally, it has also conducted research to show that a wrong decision on disability benefits is being overturned every minute of the working day.

James Taylor, executive director at Scope, said: “Behind these huge numbers are the many difficult stories from disabled people and families who’ve had to face months of unbearable stress, fear, and the anxiety of not being believed, in order to access financial support to enable them to live independently.

“Having to fight for financial support puts a huge toll on disabled people’s mental and physical health and can plunge families into poverty.”

The Express has contacted the DWP and is waiting for a response.

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