Rainbow Warrior - Assessing the assessors
Dealing with a Disability Living Allowance (DLA) appeal this week. The couple in question have had everything stopped after a dubious sounding home visit from a “medical assessor.”
The latter seems to have been told one thing by the couple but written quite another. The upshot is that the couple’s Motability car will be removed in two weeks’ time and they will be stranded in their village.
I wonder, sometimes, about the apparent different planets on which some of us reside.
I don’t suppose the person ticking the boxes and writing between the dotted lines gave the slightest pause for thought as to the knock-on effect of his comments.
That apart, there is a serious recurrence of inaccuracy that I pick up on in many of the cases which pass through my office.
At a recent tribunal, after we had listed a string of blatantly incorrect statements made by an assessor, the lawyer on the panel paused and asked me: “So, you are in effect saying that the person who filed this assessment is lying are you?”
After a pause, taking in the full weight of that question, I said “yes”.
I’m afraid that in far too many instances, whether through oversight or an attitude problem, assumptions are made by the assessor.
There is rarely any evidence of a proper medical examination with the result that someone who, for instance, can barely stagger around the house , relying on the furniture for support, is listed as being capable of walking 150 metres.
Physical impairments are only part of the picture though.
Little or no attention is paid to mental health issues which still seem to be swept under the nearest available carpet. Little or no understanding is in evidence about the effect on a person’s life of debilitating bouts of depression or other trauma.
At another tribunal, for Employment Support Allowance (ESA), after talking about a particularly harrowing experience in their life, the person in question broke down in tears.
The members of the panel gave one another a quick glance and told us to leave the room as they had heard enough.
We were called back a few minutes later to be told that the appeal had been successful.
But the person concerned was also advised to write to the Department for Work and Pensions about the assessor in question who had so clearly either failed to detect certain medical and psychological issues or – equally seriously - had mis-reported them.
Which begs the question – who judges the assessors?
n Jonathan Toye is the co-ordinator of the WNDiS (West Norfolk Disability Service). You can contact him at 14 Tuesday Market Place, King’s Lynn PE30 1JN by phoning 01553 782558, emailing jtwndis.org.uk or visiting www.wndis.cor.uk
n Do you have a view on this column? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a comment at www.facebook.com/lynnnews or write to us at Limes House, Purfleet Street, King’s Lynn, PE30 1HL.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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