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PIP assessments are optional…

Elliot Kent
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Shelter

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Or may well be - depending on the terms of the invitation letter.

In IR v SSWP (PIP) [2019] UKUT 374 (AAC), Judge Wikeley deals with two issues of potentially broader consequence:

(1) A Tribunal dealing with an appeal against a failure to attend decision must have sight of the terms of the invitation letter so that it can establish if the letter actually created a legal obligation to attend.

(2) Having reviewed the terms of the Atos standard form invitation letter issued at this time (around the beginning of 2017), the Judge concludes that no legal obligation to attend was in fact created. This is because the letter is not framed in a way which demonstrates that attendance is mandatory.

The letter included the following phrase:
“It is important that you attend this appointment. If you fail to attend without good reason the decision maker at the Department for Work and Pensions is likely to disallow your claim. If you can’t attend please contact our Customer Service Centre straightaway on [phone number to be inserted]”

And attendance being “important” is not the same as being “mandatory”.

As there was no legal obligation to attend, non-attendance cannot be used as the sole basis for refusal of PIP, no matter how poor the reasons for non-attendance may or may not be.

bristol_1
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WRAMAS Bristol City Council

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So does this mean that there is any scope for requests for any time revisions for decisions made on the basis of an error in law, where PIP entitlement was ended due to FTA a medical following one of these letters?

My client’s PIP stopped nearly 2 years ago due to a failure to attend an assessment. No advice given at this time; although she had a social worker, the end of PIP seems to have gone by unnoticed. Too late to MR and appeal it under good cause (stroke, communication difficulties and dementia), but could we submit a request for any time revision of the decision on the basis that the claimant was not informed of the legal obligation to attend?

Elliot Kent
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In principle you could make the argument that there was no legal obligation to attend although DWP may argue the anti-test case rule applies.

Mr Finch
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Benefits adviser - Isle of Wight CAB

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It was obiter, and I have my doubts about the reasoning.