, 15 tweets, 6 min read
On #WorldMentalHealthDay I would like to say something about a person I advocate for, about #PIP & @DWP & how, over a period of 18 months, this person's mental health was pushed to crisis point again and again by a system designed not to support mental health but to punish it.
With permission to talk about this from the person involved, I want to tell you about how their mental health deteriorated as a direct result of the #PIP system and @DWP decision making, requiring them to access interventions from community MH team, home-based treatment, A&E...
How @DWP decided this person was not eligible for #PIP because of a degree obtained 15 years ago, because they could drive a car, because they owned a business (even though they had not worked due to ill health for a month)...
...and because the assessor had no understanding of depression, how it affects self-care and motivation, or of dissociative episodes even when one was happening right in front of her, and how her report led to a decision to score this person 0 across the board...
How it took hours of phonecalls to obtain the transcript of the assessment, full of inaccuracies & ommissions, how the mandatory reconsideration ignored all the corrections & drew the same conclusions based on the degree, the driving, the business & the lack of understanding...
How this person was then forced to apply for a tribunal with a 33 week waiting list because @DWP are rejecting so many people for #PIP the tribunal system can't cope, & how during this wait they had virtually no income, relying on savings and handouts from family...
...because no #PIP also meant no disability elements of working tax credits, and because the stress of it all seriously exacerbated their mental health condition meaning they were too ill to return to self-employed work, no pay either...
How we agreed I would represent them at the tribunal because being there themselves, discussing their condition with strangers and trusting those strangers to believe, was hugely triggering and likely to cause a setback in health...
How I couldn't stop shaking and crying all the way through the tribunal, even though the panel were compassionate and kind, because I felt I was struggling to get my points across clearly enough...
...and I was so scared of how I would break it to this person if I failed, so scared of the devastating impact another rejection would have on their mental health...
And then the UTTER relief when the tribunal listened & questioned with a real understanding of mental health & overturned the original #PIP decision, changing 0 points to 13. 13 POINTS! Enough to make this person eligible for the enhanced #PIP daily living allowance...
And then more weeks waiting for @DWP to catch up with the tribunal decision and back-pay all the lost payments and set up the regular monthly payments going forward, and for HMRC to catch up and agree to back-pay the lost tax credits payments...
...and, finally, 18 months after it all started, I want to tell you about how this person now has financial stability again and can begin to make decisions based on mental well-being rather than financial necessity.
So, on #WorldMentalHealthDay my message is, yes, it's good to talk and check in on friends & do those things that you know help you out of dark moods & hopeless thoughts but, fucking hell, let's please fix this broken system before it breaks any more people it's supposed to help.
And to anyone who would say the system is necessary to weed out fraudulent claims I would ask you how many lives you are willing to gamble in order to achieve that end? I'll take the miniscule amount of fraud in order to protect the vulnerable. And lastly, @DWP #PIP Fuck. You.
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