For the assessment, I was asked to attend a venue in the city center of Birmingham! – which is around 20 miles away! After checking online before the date and seeing there was no parking near by, but there was a train station.
I decided that due to parking issues, and charges, and the fact of not feeling up to driving that far, I’d take the train.
A friend agreed to come with me for support and to help me find the building. I was also on a crutch because of the pain in my foot, so the train was the easiest and best option. I did not want my friend present in the assessment as I wasn’t sure what questions would be asked and didn’t want to discuss personal issues in front of him.
The building was a huge tall building with steps at the front and a disabled ramp. Due to using a walking stick and having a particularly bad day with pain in my foot, I used the disabled ramp rather than steps. When I got in the building, there was a reception desk and a lift. I was told to go to the 5th floor in the lift.
When I got to the right floor, I was led into a room, full of other claimants there. Young people, old people, wheelchair users, able-bodied people, a whole mix of people. It was quite intimidating, and you can’t help but think “ooh I wonder what their condition is, or what do they think of me?.”
The receptionist asked me for my personal ID (passport or driving license) which you have to take to a PIP assessment. I was then asked to take a seat and wait to be called by an assessor. Fortunately, it was only a 5-10 minute wait, which was good for me as I could feel my anxiety starting to build.
I was taken into a room with my assessor who was a female, which I was glad of. She introduced herself and said she was a Nurse by occupation. The room was very sterile and not comfortable to sit in. There was just a desk, an examining bed, and a laptop. I was seated at one end of the desk, the nurse at the other.
She then proceeded to go through my illnesses and asked me questions.
“How did I get here?” – By train with a neighbour
“How far can I walk unaided in metres” – I have no idea, Not very far, I dont know how far a metre is?
“Do I have any aids in the house to help me?” – I use a grab rail to help me get in and out the shower and a downstairs toilet
“Do I sleep upstairs or downstairs” – Upstairs
“Do I drive” – Yes
“What are my illnesses?” – You have all the relevant documentation from my GP etc and hospital appointments. I have Fibromyalgia, Acquired Hypothyroidism, following total thyroidecetomy, had my gall bladder removed, recently diagnosed Ceoliac. Left Hind foot vagus, and general muscle pain and wear. The list goes on, but I have documents listing everything.
The questions were relentless! It was like the Spanish Inquisition!. All the while, when I answered she was typing away but not sharing with me what she was writing.
After the question bombardment had finished she asked me if I could squeeze her fingers??? I did. Then she asked if I could turn my neck as far to the left and right. I couldn’t do this easily and it hurt and I told her. She then asked me to stand up, which I did and asked me to stand on my tiptoes. As mentioned earlier my foot was causing me a lot of pain so this task was out the question, and I told her I couldn’t.
The entire stressful process lasted around 55 minutes and then I was let go. The assessor told me the average waiting time for a result following a PIP assessment would be 8 weeks!
I left and went home.
Now I did not know you could do this so I will share it here. I found out that after around two weeks of your F2F (face to face) you are entitled to call the DWP and ask for a copy of the report that the assessor has sent to the DWP. So I did. This came within 3 days.
I was shocked! The way to report had been written, made me look like a complete fraudster!
She had penalized me for getting the train, and had said in my report I came alone (even though I had said my friend was with me just not in the meeting!), this, therefore, showed I could travel unaccompanied without help.
She said I had been unable to complete some of the physical tasks due to pain, but she still believed that I could do these given tasks on a normal day! A bit of an assumption there love, given you have only just met me!
I was also given a breakdown of the ridiculous points system that you have to ‘hit’ in order to be awarded PIP.
I worked out myself that I had just missed out by 1 point on the living component and by 2 points on the mobility component, which meant I was not eligible for even the low amount of help available!
I will be sending in an appeal, although this is just adding, even more, stress and worry to my life that I don’t need. The appeal process is called a Mandatory Reconsideration. This is a fantastic tool I have found where you input the information you have that you wish to have re-looked at, and it will do an automatic reconsideration letter for you! Click this link here