General – Reducing an Existing PIP Award
Since PIP was introduced, there has been a huge scandal about DWP reviewing existing PIP awards (sometimes more than a year before they run out) and then arbitrarily changing or stopping the PIP award simply because a second assessor has disagreed with the first assessor, although the claimant has the same disability or medical condition.
In decision CPIP/1623/2016, the Upper Tribunal said that DWP must give a precise reason why they are changing or stopping an existing award of PIP, including looking back at why the original award had been given and saying what had changed.
In decision CPIP/2533/2016, the Upper Tribunal underlined this requirement and instructed First Tier Tribunals to ask DWP if they do not get a proper reason from DWP why a PIP award has been changed or stopped.
Now the Upper Tribunal in decision CPIP/3556/2016 has gone even further and said that the DWP can ONLY revise a PIP award made by a Tribunal before its expiry date IF they can prove that the claimant has had a relevant change of circumstances – ie that their disability or medical condition has changed so much that the original award is no longer appropriate.
This is stated already in regulation 23(1) of ‘Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Jobseeker's Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2013’ but the Upper Tribunal has underlined that it applies and must be followed by the DWP. Note that this applies to PIP awards made by a Tribunal – we don’t know for sure that it also applies to PIP awards made by DWP itself.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU
If you have an award of PIP made by a Tribunal, DWP cannot reduce or stop the award before the end of the award period stated by the Tribunal unless they can prove that your disability or medical condition has improved so much that the award is no longer appropriate. If DWP do reduce or stop your award, you can ask a Tribunal to reinstate or give back your original award by quoting this decision.
You will NOT have to prove your eligibility for the award over again if DWP hasn’t proven that your disability or medical condition has changed. The principle is that PIP awards made by Tribunals should continue until their expiry date unless DWP can prove that they shouldn’t.
This decision doesn’t stop DWP asking you to fill in a review form or attend a face-to-face review assessment at any point during your award. But if you have a current award by a Tribunal, DWP can’t treat a review as basically a new application where you have to prove your eligibility all over again. The review should be to see if your circumstances have changed, and if DWP can’t prove that they have, your award should automatically continue.
It’s not clear if this decision applies to PIP awards made by the DWP themselves and not by Tribunals. In principle it should but this hasn’t been confirmed by the Upper Tribunal yet. This decision should apply immediately and to all claims and awards, because the Upper Tribunal has only clarified the existing law, not changed anything.
This analysis is brought to you by BuDS Benefit Information Project – https://buds.org.uk/benefitsinformation/.
It is general information only and you should take advice about your specific case.
You can read the full judgement here: https://www.gov.uk/administrative-appeals-tribunaldecisions/mr-v-secretary-of-state-for-work-and-pensions-pip-2017-ukut-46-aac