Diagnosed RRMS in September last year. Applied for PIP and went to assessment where I was awarded 4 points daily living and lower rate mobility with 8 points.
I appealed the decision and was rejected by mandatory reconsideration.
I appealed the MR to trbunal. I had my tribunal today. The time process from assessment in November to MR in Febrary and tribunal today in July.
I had a Welfare Officer helping to represent me. We discussed the case at length and there were inconsistencies in the assessment. We both agreed that some went in my favour and many did not. It was not a true reflection of my disabilities, of that much we can be certain.
The tribunal judge was known to my welfare officer from previous encounters and he described him as ‘one of the good guys’.
My rep was called in 10 minutes before the start of the hearing was given fair warning that should we proceed, my current entitlement of lower rate mobility would be at risk, due to the fact that I have no medical supporting evidence.
I was given the opportunity to withdraw my appeal before stepping foot in the tribunal room.
Given that a lenient judge was giving us fair warning, we decided that the lack of medical evidence would go strongly against me and I could end up with nothing, so I withdrew. The welfare officer told me that in all the cases he has been to, no one has walked into a tribunal after having been given fair warning and come out better than they went in. The likelihood was, and is, that if you are given a warning before tribunal, you will likely lose points.
Unfortunately, MS is a chronic autoimmune condition and not one that allows or requires assessments, evaluations or NHS involvement. I meet my neurologist once per year and am on disease modifying drugs - that’s all they can do. Specific relapses can be treated with steroids if they are severe, but other than that I’m left without assistance.
I went to my GP some months ago with pain and MS symptoms and he told me that I should contact my MS team, as he’s not specialised enough. My MS nurse has a case load of 5000 patients and I see her once per 6 months for half an hour to discuss symptoms.
All in all, I do not receive appropriate treatment that would allow medical evidence of my condition and how it affects me. Without the evidence, tribunal are likely to side with the health assessment carried out on behalf of DWP (which, let’s face it, is biased)
The moral of the story is the State is bigger than the person, and the rules are meant to be difficult to save public funds. If you do not have specific and appropriate proof then you are unlikely to succeed.
Also, if you receive fair warning before tribunal - think very carefully of what you risk by walking in to that room.
There seems to be a catch 22 in that DWP want evidential proof of disability. GPs often tell MS patients to speak to their MS team about their problems, as they are not specialised enough. MS teams are overstretched and can’t provide that kind of one-to-one care. My MS nurse has over 500 active caseloads. I emailed her in February and haven’t had a response. I see her once every 6 months for 30 minutes and the majority of that time is doing bloods to ensure no PML risk. I’m on tecfidera. Without evidential proof, I can’t claim my entitlement.
It’s a bias and horrid system.