People claiming Personal Independence Payment could be owed £13,000 in backdated benefits following a change in the law.
The Department for Work and Pensions has resumed a review of claimants to identify those who could be due a backpayment.
The DWP paused its search for affected claimants in March 2020 in order to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and focus on the increased demands on their services.
But these assessments restarted in October 2020.
In a newly released UK Government paper, the DWP states that by January 17, 2021, the total amount of arrears payments made to PIP claimants since June 2018 is £32 million – reports the Daily Record.
And now the DWP is sifting through thousands of PIP claims searching for people who may be due back payments as a result of the changes in the law, after it lost two landmark legal cases and had to amend its assessment guidance to decision makers.
What are the changes to assessment guidance?
From November 28, 2016 there was a change to the way the DWP considers how overwhelming psychological distress affects a claimant’s ability to plan and follow a journey – this decision is known as ‘MH’ .
From March 9, 2017 there was a change to the way the DWP considers if a claimant can complete a PIP activity safely and if supervision is required, by considering both the likelihood of harm occurring, and the severity and nature of the harm that might occur – this decision is known as ‘RJ’ .
Who could be affected by the change?
Since June 2018, the DWP has been searching for PIP claimants who may be entitled to back payments because their award was calculated incorrectly, under the previous assessment guidance.
The changes to PIP law affects how it decides claims for:
people who currently get PIP
people who applied for PIP in the past but do not currently get it
people moving from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to PIP
These changes are a result of amendments to PIP law for:
Managing medication and monitoring a health condition – changes from 28 November 2016 to 15 March 2017
Safety and supervision – changes from 9 March 2017
Special diet as therapy – changes from 28 November 2016
Overwhelming psychological distress and planning journeys – changes from 28 November 2016 received back payments since June 2018?
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How many people have received back payments since June 2018?
The latest figures show that by January, 17, 2021, the DWP had:
Cleared around 890,000 cases against the MH decision
Cleared around 990,000 cases against the RJ decision
The DWP has also made approximately 6,600 payments ro PIP claimants, of which:
around 3,600 arrears payments have been made from the application of the MH decision alone
around 3,000 arrears payments have been made from the application of the RJ decision alone
less than 100 arrears payments have been made from the application of both decisions simultaneously
The total amount of arrears payments the department has paid out is £32million, of this:
£18million has been paid from the application of the MH decision alone
£14million has been paid from the application of the RJ decision alone
less than £1 million has been paid from the application of both decisions
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What else do I need to know?
At the beginning of the administrative exercise the DWP had a dedicated resource for cases where the claimant was deceased to ensure their next of kin received payments as quickly as possible.
Since then, regular checks are carried out for deceased claimants and these cases are prioritised for review. Similarly, cases are prioritised for claimants considered under Special Rules for Terminal Illness (SRTI).
Results of the reviews carried out as part of the administrative exercise are continually monitored, this means those claimants most likely to benefit can now be better identified.
This has allowed the exercise now to be focused on these claimants and ensure they receive payments as quickly as possible.
The DWP search will date back to April 2016 for potentially affected people, including claimants who did not receive any award for PIP.