I had a call from DWP recently regarding my PIP application (I was awarded PIP for 3 years after my stroke so I have had to reapply). When I gave an example of the lack of functionality by saying that I can’t pick up a pound coin nor even a domino with my affected hand, she said to use the other hand.
"Use the other hand."
"That's not the point, is it. The point is the loss of functionality."
No remorse or empathy.


Also, just because I can put on a t-shirt it is now seemingly enough to prove that I can get dressed. I asked her if she was suggesting that I only go out on hot days, because my partner helps me with additional layers otherwise I'm in discomfort (have you tried putting on a layer and not being able to pull down the sleeve of the t-shirt after it has ridden up one's arm?). She told me not to be silly. I said it’s a pertinent question.


The fact I also need steak and chicken cut up is also not considered as far as the DWP is concerned, nor is removing something heavy-ish from the oven. In other words, anything that requires two working hands, it seems.


She also remarked, "After nearly 4 years we'd expect improvements, wouldn’t you agree?" I said something along the lines that people respond differently because every stroke is different. "But it's not impossible...?" she went on.


Anyway, she then said that she's going to reduce the award. I asked why has the award changed and why am I being penalised given that nothing has changed. She said about the ESA award report says otherwise. I was assessed by a doctor for ESA shortly after being made redundant a couple of years ago. In the report the doctor mentioned that I can cook a bolognese, without mentioning the need to prepare the ingredients beforehand. But that was enough for her. “Yes, but you can cook a bolognese.”
“Yes, but I need help with the actual ingredients, to prepare the ingredients [like chopping an onion] first.”
“Yes, but you CAN cook.”


And that’s where we ended, with her saying that we're getting nowhere and that I should attend an in-person assessment. I said ok. She then said that there will be a letter either with her decision or asking me to attend the in-person assessment.


I hope it's the latter. How can this be done over a phone call? They need to see people.


I found her whole language was designed to make me say something that I didn't mean to say, to fall into a trap and, of course, to confuse. And I'm trying to do and say all of this while having aphasia, while struggling to find not only the right words, but MY words. And after hearing some of the "traps" to try and get me to say something contrary to my situation, well, I'm speechless!


Rant over.


Merry Christmas all, and stay safe!



I cant blame you for ranting about PIP. I have it at the moment for a mental health complaint not my stroke which was luckily minor. In the end my husband sent in a 700 page file of my mental health records. I have got it for the moment but who know what hurdles they will set up. Keep ranting, Hilary


It was the tone and and sheer lack of empathy. It was very much "I'm sorry you feel that way" type of tone, like it's my fault that I had a stroke. Clearly learning from the politians apologies that aren't really apologies.

That sort of behaviour is absolutely unacceptable.  I would find out how to lodge a complaint, as I think you have been intimidated.  You have not been listened to, and you have not really been given a clear explanation of why the assessor believes you should have the PIP reduced.  

I had a massive battle to try to renew my Blue Badge earlier this year.  Most of the 'discussion' was completed via email, so I had a clear paper trail of what was being said, rather than verbal, ephemeral evidence. I battled for 4 months, finally had an actual assessment with an O.T. who looked as though she had just left Junior school, and again they refused my application.  They would not allow me to be present at any of the meetings when my application was discussed.  I bombarded my assessor with emails, and like you, I wanted clear evidence that my situation had improved sufficiently that I would no longer require the BB.  I think I eventually wore them down!!  They finally granted the re-newal, but I felt seriously humiliated that I virtually had to beg, for something which I already had!!  

If you have the energy for a battle, just keep going, even when they imply that the process has ended, do not give up!!!

Very best of luck xx

Words fail me. It makes me so angry that the DWP will dish out money to people who arrive in this country from elsewhere having never paid a penny into the system and we have to beg for help. I hope she gets her comeuppence one day!

Oh, don't get me started on Blue Badge people!  I went down to the council offices (as instructed on the phone) to hand in my Mother-in-Law's blue badge the week she passed away.  I was greeted with "Have you got an appointment?" No, I wasn't told I needed one.  I explained that I was returning her Blue badge because she had just passed away.  The girl of no older than 18 said "Why, doesn't she need it anymore?" I snapped back "Perhaps I should repeat what I've just said a little slower this time - My Mum-in-Law has just d***d. " Oh, she says. I'll just have to go and get my colleague.  Another jobsworth comes up and says "She should really have brought this in herself!"  "Would you like me to ask the undertaker to wheel the coffin if for you then with it in her hand?" Which bit of she had just passed away didn't they understand?  I just slammed it on his desk and walked out.

Her decision was pretty much based on the DASH test I did with physio before I signed myself off (but with the option of returing should I feel the need to). It showed a reduction in “disability”, from 34% to 22%. And this DWP caller used it to her favour. Physically, the truth of the DASH test means that I can move blocks that are 2cm3 as opposed to 3cm3 and solid cylinders that are 2cm in diameter as opposed to 3cm in diameter. Yes, it’s an improvement, but I still have limited functionality all the same. I can grip things, make a rudumentory grip, but my fingers do not move independantly from one another. I also have atrophy in the hand, the hand is at a very peculiar angle and does hold flat when my arm is bent at the elbow.

Also, back in the summer of 2018, I tried kayacking again. I had my stroke in May 2017 and hadn't been on the kayack since 2016. I did it twice. Both times were a mistake and hurt like hell but the fact that I did it is what she focused on. She didn't mention that my entry on the application said that it was always with my partner (the kayak is a Sit on Top which is paddled by TWO adults with space for a small third), who duly picked up the paddling work, and because of the physical and mental exhaustion, I barely paddled. When I did manage to do a few strokes, I had pain in my right hand and had the immense discomfort of shoulder subluxation from the exertion. Furthermore, as I am strapped to the paddle with an Active Hands General Purpose Gripping Aid (a wrap-around ‘glove’ that can be tightened and secured with a velcro strap), there is no alternative other than to have the paddle attached to my right hand. Nope, she forgot to mention any of that.

Maybe I haven't done myself any favours by sending in the physio sign off letter.

Is there a way to get hold of the ESA report? Freedom of Info maybe?

I'm out of my depth with PIP assessments, but maybe you could request, (or insist on being given), a copy of a written report made by the assessor, and then pick it apart word by word, and contest every phrase?  

Frankly, like many assessments, they bear very little relation to everyday, real life tasks - how many of us ever need to move small blocks around.  I understand what they are trying to do with these generic tests, but they do not provide good quality information about a person's ability to function with tasks such as personal care, preparing meals etc. It's a waste of everyone's time.  

I think it is hoped that eventually the applicant will just give up and accept the decision - you could approach the Stroke team, as I believe they have supported stroke survivors through this process on a regular basis, and they may be able to add wight to your claim and do some of the leg-work on your behalf.

Best wishes xx

When she said, "After nearly 4 years we'd expect improvements, wouldn’t you agree?" What I should have said but couldn't find the words such was the calousness was that I was completely paralysed on my right side and had to learn to walk again. I was still unable to move my arm after leaving hospital until I started the physio and ot stuff. The improvement is there, in the fact that I can walk and move my arm, albeit in a limited way, and I can hold small-ish things.

Unfortunately they only hear 'yes' or 'no' no 'buts'!

Make a note of these replies as they occur to you.  When you receive a copy of the report (which I would insist they give you), then you will have your ammunition for your arguments against the assessment.  This was what I did with my Blue Badge application - I can never think of a smart answer when I'm put on the spot, but give me 5 minutes and I'll argue the hind leg off a donkey!  So don't give up.  If you ever visit Norfolk and see all the 3-legged donkeys, you'll know why they're like that!!  

I've read all the replies to your post and I completely agree with what has been said. The way you are treated is appalling! I would send your perfectly written 'rant' to your MP, highlight your difficulties as a result of your brain injuries, and the lack of understanding and callous way you have been treated (probably by a contracted supplier such as Serco or some other one). I hate to think that peoples lives are being assessed against a target of achieving a reduction in the money that the department awards an individual, compared to that previously awarded.  Send a copy to Justin Tomlinson MP, Minister for Disabled People in the DWP. Ask for help from the Stroke Association. I feel for you and everyone who comes up against these barriers, which make it difficult for injured people to obtain support which they are entitled to. Everybody who has suffered a stroke wishes they never had. Wishes they never had to claim PIP. They have to accept the new situation, the new you as Colin says, and obtain the help and support which are there to ensure you can live with your injury. Best wishes Pat. My rant over!