Benefits changes '˜will hit thousands with worsening conditions'

Thousands of disabled people who suffer from progressively worsening conditions will face reassessment for their benefits this year, new figures show.

The number of people with progressive conditions being reassessed has surged, says MP. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Campaigners and MPs are now demanding changes to stop those with such conditions being repeatedly reassessed to claim personal independence payments (PIP).

Between April and October, 3,500 people suffering progressive conditions rheumatoid arthritis, multiple 
sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s 
disease and motor neurone disease were reassessed for PIP, according to a written parliamentary question from Labour MP Madeleine Moon.

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Glasgow North-West SNP MP Carol Monaghan said she was dealing with four cases in her constituency of people 
who suffer from MS being reassessed for PIP, despite their condition getting progressively worse. She said: “MS is a progressive condition. They’re never going to be any better than they are at the moment so they should never be asked to go for a reassessment.

“Some of these people are still able to walk, to a certain extent, so they get themselves in just about, and then they’re being told that ‘You look fine’.

“That’s like somebody ill going to a doctor and the 
doctor saying: ‘Yeah, you’re looking all right, I’m not going to bother doing any tests’.

“It’s a medical condition – it’s not about how somebody or somebody presents. It’s 
about a diagnosis by a medical 
professional, and this simply isn’t happening.”

In 2015-16 2,400 people with these conditions were reassessed for PIP, according to the figures obtained by Ms Moon, compared with a total of 200 in the previous two years.

Ministers say award reviews ensure people are getting the right level of support and that these reviews could see their payments increased.

But Phil Reynolds, policy and campaigns adviser at Parkinson’s UK, said the reassessment figures were “only the tip of the iceberg”.

Similar concerns have been expressed by Laura Wetherly, policy manager for welfare and employment at the MS Society.

The Department for Work and Pensions has already scrapped assessments for the chronically ill every six months to 
qualify for employment and support allowance.

A spokeswoman said: “PIP is an interactive 
benefit, designed to ensure any changes in a claimant’s functional ability can be identified and that they receive the right support at the right time.”