I was diagnosed in 2010 and, until recently, I’ve not been too bad. My worsening condition has led me to claim PIP. I have just had a home assessment.
Can I say first of all that I consider myself a reasonable and objective person and I approached the interview with an open mind.I also acknowledge that the interview needs to test/verify the information given by an applicant as some claims will be fraudulent.
I recorded the assessment so everything I say can be proved beyond any doubt, except that I have changed/omitted some unimportant detail in order to protect my identity. For this reason I have not disclosed which company carried out the assessment. I could give page after page of comment but here are my most significant concerns.
The interview was not carried out in accordance with DWP guidelines in these areas:-
Sufferers from PD should not be subject of an assessment if the disability they claim is ‘medically reasonable’ (I assume I had an assessment because they don’t believe me but, if so, why not ask my GP for a report)
Consent to the physical examination was dubious - ‘I’m going to examine you now - OK?”
The fact that it would not be a diagnosis, not to do anything that would cause pain etc was not explained. (When I couldn’t do an exercise I was asked if it was the pain that was stopping me!)
The interviewer did not take my additional evidence - I was told to post it to DWP.
The ‘typical day’ was not discussed.
Conduct of the interview
I didn’t realise this at the time but, having listened back to the recording, I have concluded that it was not designed to help decide my claim but simply to reject it. Here’s why:-
DWP Guidlines suggest that ‘summarising back to the claimant what has been said is useful to show active listening.’ It didn’t - when I said I couldn’t do something ‘most of the time’ this was summarised as 2-3 days per week. This happened on more than one occasion.
Assumptions were made - what do you use the computer for? Do you drive a car most of the time?
I’m assuming that the fact that I drive will infer that I can carry out other relevant tasks using the same function such as getting up and down, sitting etc This is fair enough but, taking into account that driving is not part of the criteria under assessment when I had explained the difficulty that I had driving, and that ‘most of the time I don’t drive’ this line of questioning went on too long.
Having established that we get our groceries delivered I was asked about walking around the supermarket!
I was asked about my hobbies. I said that it was so long since I had been to my xx club that i couldn’t remember when it was to be then ask ‘are there any other activities that I carry out ‘regularly.’
I said that I know longer cook for safety reasons - but was asked when I last dropped anything whilst cooking.
I found ‘is it just stress incontinence’, ‘when did you last burn yourself’, and ‘why don’t you help your wife with [one of her hobbies]’ insulting but perhaps I’m over-sensitive?
There’s lots more.
In the employment that I had to give up I was a trained interviewer and also carried out quality control of interviews. This interview is such that if it had been carried out by one of my team I would have started a disciplinary case. More worryingly there are other subtleties [not disclosed] which I believe suggest that the interviewer wasn’t a ‘poor interviewer’ but has been trained to carry out interviews like this.