TENS of thousands of PIP claimants could see their benefit payments stopped due to a loophole.
It comes after it was revealed that 42,100 claimants had their PIP stopped in 2021.
The numbers were requested by disabled Labour MP Marsha de Cordova who fears that thousands have had their payments stopped.
A loophole means that PIP payments can stop mid-way through an award period when claimants fail to return their review letters – known as AR1 forms.
The shocking figures reveal that there has been a 400% increase in the number PIP customers who've not returned their AR1 forms between 2017 and 2021 – meaning thousands had their payments stopped.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) issues these forms to ensure that customers are still eligible for support.
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In a review, the DWP will decide whether to extend your PIP award longer, change your entitlement or end your claim.
Customers have four weeks to fill in the AR1 review form or they risk having their payments stopped.
James Taylor, director of strategy at disability equality charity Scope said: "In the grip of the biggest cost of living crisis in a generation, this massive hike in forms not coming back should send alarm bells ringing in the DWP.
"Life costs more if you are disabled, and PIP are meant to help address these costs.
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"Right now, for many disabled people, the cost of living crisis is literally a life or death situation.
"The government needs to urgently get a handle why this is happening and what action they need to take."
PIP is available for those aged 16 or over who have not reached the state pension age.
The benefit can be worth up to £156.90 a week and is split into two parts known as the daily living component and the mobility component.
To qualify you have to have a health condition or disability where you either have had difficulties with daily living or getting around (or both) for three months.
There should also be an expectation that these difficulties will continue for at least nine months – unless you’re terminally ill with less than six months to live.
You’ll be assessed by a health professional to work out the level of help you can get and your rate will be regularly reviewed to make sure you’re getting the right support.
After you've successfully started claiming PIP, the DWP will then review your claim again before your award is due to end – this is when you'll need to fill in and return an AR1 form.
If you don’t send the form back in time, the DWP will stop your claim unless you have a good reason for sending it in late.
You will need to tell the DWP why you sent the form late if you're worried about having your payments stopped.
If your reasons aren't justified you'll have to make a fresh claim for PIP or challenge the DWP's decision.
Off the back of the substantial increase in review forms not being return in a statement, the DWP said: "Only a small proportion of PIP claims are disallowed for non-return of the AR1 form and safeguards are in place to prevent vulnerable claimants’ claims falling out of payment."
How did PIP reviews work?
You will continue to get PIP while your claim is being reviewed.
You should receive a letter asking you to fill in a form called 'Award review – how your disability affects you'.
After filling in the form you'll then need to send it back to the DWP – the form will have the specific address details.
You’ll need to return it within one month.
If you're worried that you'll be late posting the form contact the PIP enquiry line on 0800 121 4433 if you need more time.
DWP will then review your form. If they need more information, an independent health professional might phone you to ask some questions or send a letter inviting you to an assessment.
Assessments can be in person, over the phone or by video call.
You’ll then get a letter that tells you what will happen with your PIP.
If your needs have changed, your PIP might be increased, reduced or stopped.
How do I challenge a PIP decision?
If you disagree with a decision about your PIP award you can ask for the decision to be looked at again – this is called 'mandatory reconsideration'.
You'll need to contact the benefits office that gave you the decision.
PIP claimants should call the Disability Service Centre on 0800 121 4433.
Customers can also challenge their award in writing by sending a letter to:
Personal Independence Payment
Post Handling Site B
The contact details to challenge your PIP award should also be on your decision letter.
You need to ask for mandatory reconsideration within one month of the date on your decision letter.
The benefits office that gave you the original benefit decision will reconsider it.
When they’ve reconsidered it, you’ll get a letter called a ‘mandatory reconsideration notice’ telling you whether they’ve changed the decision.
The mandatory reconsideration notice will explain the reasons for that decision and the evidence it was based on.
You can appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal if you think the decision in the mandatory reconsideration notice is wrong. The tribunal is independent of government. A judge will listen to both sides of the argument before making a decision.
You usually need to do this within one month of the date of your mandatory reconsideration notice.
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You can find out more about appealing to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal on the government website.
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