PIP Assessments Causing Hardship For MS Patients

An Alliance Councillor has said assessments for Personal Independence Payments have caused great hardship and distress for people living with multiple sclerosis.

Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast Peter McReynolds, who has been open about his own struggle with MS, was commenting on a report released by the MS Society following a survey of nearly 900 people living in the UK with the condition.

The survey identified major problems with every state of the claims process, with over half of respondents (55%) who had face to face assessment saying they didn't believe their assessor had a good understanding of MS.
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The research also found that assessors are making incorrect decisions based on 'informal observations' (the way people look or act during their assessment). Of the people who said their report included 'informal observations', nearly half (48%) said their assessor had incorrectly made assumptions they could do something else.

Two thirds of people (65%) who responded to the survey struggled to complete the application form because it's too long and complicated.

Councillor McReynolds said: "As someone who has been living with MS for over six years I appreciate the anxiety and distress having this condition can cause. Fortunately, my condition does not impact significantly on my day to day life, but I know in many cases it can be life changing.

"I believe the PIP assessment process is completely failing people with MS. It is clear that because of the fluctuating symptoms of MS, the assessors simply do not understand the condition and the devastating impacts it can have on people.

"Last year, around 83% of people with MS who appealed their PIP decision won their appeal. This is a clear indictment of the flawed process. It needs to be urgently reviewed and made fit for purpose, to protect and support those living with the condition."


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