By John Pring Disability News Service 2nd March 2017
A disabled woman is seeking a judicial review by the high court of the errors she says were made in dealing with her claim for personal independence payment (PIP), and which she believes put her life at risk.
Angela Kennedy, from Essex, says the errors by the Atos assessor, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the tribunal service led to her being denied the support she needed to stay safe and live independently over the last 18 months.
It comes as Disability News Service continues its investigation into claims of widespread dishonesty by PIP assessors working for both Capita and Atos on behalf of DWP.
Kennedy says the decision to deny her PIP claim meant: that she had to take redundancy from her job as a university sociology lecturer, partly because she could not afford to travel to work in central and west London without a blue parking badge; that she has suffered further injuries because of the lack of support; and that she has found it more difficult to care for her adult disabled daughter.
Since her PIP claim was rejected in 2015, the lack of financial support has led to three serious falls, which caused further serious impairment; multiple lesser falls, where she has still been hurt; and many other potentially dangerous “trips, slips and stumbles”.
Kennedy says the Atos paramedic who assessed her was guilty of “serious omissions and errors of fact and reasoning” in the report he compiled after a face-to-face assessment at her home in October 2015.
Among those omissions and errors were that he “played down” her impairments, failed to record that she had been suffering frequent falls for “some years”, despite being told this “at length” in the assessment, and omitted other “vital information” in his assessment report.
But she is also highly critical of the way that the first-tier social security tribunal dealt with her appeal against being denied PIP in September 2016.
She says the first-tier tribunal was openly “sceptical” and “hostile” to her during her appeal; failed to listen to her when she was reading her statement; repeatedly interrupted when she tried to answer their questions; and “almost constantly made facial expressions of contemptuous disbelief in response to the comprehensive answers I gave to their questions”.
She also claims that one of the tribunal members fell asleep when she was reading out her statement.
Last month, the upper tribunal denied her permission to appeal against the decision of the first-tier tribunal.
Now she is asking the high court to carry out a judicial review of the way that her case has been dealt with by Atos, DWP and the tribunal service.
Her application was due to be submitted by tomorrow (Friday).
Kennedy said: “Serious errors and omissions were made at all levels of the claims and appeals process.
“This application for judicial review therefore has important ramifications for the handling of other PIP claims.
“My case is particularly important because of the huge amount, intensity, and seriousness of all the errors of procedure, facts and reasoning that have been made.”
A spokesman for the Judicial Office declined to comment because the case was pending a possible judicial review.