I wanted to do a post, for anyone who was in the same position as me and facing a PIP tribunal.
First of all, let me explain PIP (personal independence payment) has nothing to do with your condition, its all about what you can and can’t do.
The reason you are at a tribunal stage is because you have an assessment, where you saw a medical professional, the problem is this professional might not have any in depth knowledge of what your condition can limit you to. For example I have known people with mental health issues who have seen physiotherapist, now while they don’t need to know much about your condition, because again, its about how you are limited, it would be nice to have someone who knows a little more than the basics.
After this assessment you would of been turned down, you then go to the second stage which is a mandatory reconsideration, this is where you have received the report from the person who has assessed you, they would of written everything down that you said and a decision has been made on this, now while I don’t want to get into the ins and outs, this is often wrong, or has been written in a way that shows you are better than you actually are. You would of needed to go through this with a fine tooth comb, picking up anything you disagree with.
I will say at every stage, do not do what I did, which was rely on myself and my friend C to double check my spelling, there is loads of help out there, use it. To be fair C wrote some brilliant lines for me and was a massive help and support during this.
I also made sure I sent as much evidence as possible, including my medical notes to back up everything I said.
To be at a tribunal, you would of also been turned down at the mandatory reconsideration, do not lose hope, I don’t have the exact figures, but most people are turned down at this stage.
You have the date for your tribunal, first thing, its probably been a while, so go back through all your paperwork, have notes on which of the descriptions you feel you should of been awarded points. Make lots of notes, its all about what you can do the majority of the time, if the majority of time you can’t touch your toes, but managed to do it once 3 weeks ago, don’t mention it, its all about the majority of time. I cannot stress that enough.
Just because its a court, I know we all feel we need to get suited and booted, if you are not going to feel comfortable don’t, they won’t mind. I turned up in jeans and a big baggy jumper, because that is what I felt comfortable in.
If you arrive about ten minutes before you are due to be heard, that will give you enough time, just to go over everything again. When you get to the court, you will probably have to go through a metal detector, they will then put you into a side room, where you will wait to be called, if your tribunal is late morning or afternoon, be prepared for a wait. They sometimes get delayed.
The tribunal is made up of 3 people, the judge, a doctor and another legal person. Sometimes the DWP sends someone, its unusual but it can happen, so be prepared for that.
You will sit facing them and they will ask questions, just answer as honestly as possible. Always remember the words no I can’t. don’t say things like no but…. because if you sound like you can do it most days they have to include that in their judgement.
They are an independent panel, so they don’t have an agenda. Its usual and ok to feel anxious and upset, don’t try and hide this and put on a stiff upper lip, they need to know what it is like to be you for a day.
Don’t try and exaggerate or lie about your condition, they will see through that. Be as honest as possible but don’t try and make yourself sound healthier than you are. Its a fine line to be honest, I hated admitting how limited I am, but it had to be done.
The tribunal will last about an hour, all 3 will ask questions of yourself and if you have bought someone with you, in my case my partner, they may ask them questions. Take your time, if you need more time to answer tell them, if you need to find your notes, just mention that. At the end, they will ask you if there is anything else you want to say, I had a checklist of what I wanted to say, which we had gone over most of it, the only thing that hadn’t been mentioned was my sleep pattern, which while, isn’t important on its own, gives them a bigger picture.
After it is all done, they will send you out of the room so they can discuss, you will be taken back into the side room, where you just have to wait.
After a while (in my case 15 minutes) you will be called back in and given their verdict.
If you get a no, that can be a blow, especially if you have waited a while for the tribunal. However there is no recourse, the tribunal is the last place to get a decision, what you can do however is apply again for PIP, I know people who have been turned down twice only to get it on the third go.
If you get a yes, the DWP has 28 days to appeal the decision, yeah I don’t get it either. Hopefully though, they won’t and you will start getting the money coming is soon. I have read people receiving money as quick as 2 weeks, also from people who have had to wait months.
If you are just starting out with PIP, the best advice I can give you is write a diary from around the time of the assessment, it will really help your memory, I had was this blog and at the time of the assessment I wasn’t blogging, I also had an old mood diary, but I hadn’t written much in there either, so it was really tough to try and remember nearly 18 months ago, check facebook, old calenders, diaries, phone, anything like that.