Group File 46  Changes to PIP awards 

The Upper Tribunal recently made a decision (CPIP/2013/2017) which underlines that Tribunals must not accept changes to existing PIP awards unless the Tribunal itself can find a good reason for the change.
 

BACKGROUND
Because PIP awards are nearly always for a fixed length of time, DWP reviews all PIP awards before they are due to expire. DWP also review a PIP award if a claimant asks them to do so, usually because their conditions have got worse or better. If DWP decide that the award needs to be different, they have a legal power to change it, even if it has a year or more still to run. This process is called supercession.

 

DWP have grossly abused this power in the past, making illegal changes to awards, changing awards without good reason, and sometimes taking away awards simply because a second assessor has reached different conclusions to the first one. The Upper Tribunal has responded to these abuses by requiring Tribunals to reinstate changed awards unless the supercession has been done for a legal reason AND there is a good reason why the claimant’s circumstances have changed so that they are no longer entitled to the award.

In this case, a claimant asked for a change to her PIP award, which ran until 2021, because her mobility had got worse. The DWP did not agree that she was entitled to a higher award. The DWP also, without giving any reason, cut the length of her award to 2020. A Tribunal agreed that she was not entitled to an increased award and did not do anything about the shortening of the current award.
 

WHAT THE UPPER TRIBUNAL DECIDED
The Upper Tribunal said that the Tribunal had made an error in law by not saying WHY the award was shortened. They underlined that changes cannot be made to PIP awards without there being a good reason for them, and any change made without a good reason was by definition unacceptable in law. The UT reinstated the lost year on the claimant’s award.

 

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU
If DWP change your PIP award for any reason, and you appeal to the independent Tribunal, the Tribunal will reinstate your award (give it back) unless the Tribunal panel can find a good reason why it should be changed. This means it is for the DWP to justify why they should take away your award, not for you to say why you should keep it.

This means that if you can show that your circumstances haven’t changed significantly since you were awarded PIP, or if you are worse, the Tribunal has to reinstate or give back your PIP award.
 

TIMING
The Upper Tribunal made this decision on 8 December 2017 but it’s a clarification of the law rather than a new definition. This means that this decision applies straightaway to all claims, mandatory reconsiderations and appeals.

 

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You can read the full judgement here: https://www.gov.uk/…/jh-v-secretary-of-state-for-work-and-p…

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