Around half of people with epilepsy (48%) being reassessed from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to PIP had their award refused, according to the DWP statistics. This is almost double the national average for all health conditions, which is around one-quarter (25%).
Almost two-thirds of people with epilepsy (64%) being reassessed have had their PIP award either refused or reduced.
PIP is a benefit designed to help people with health conditions carry out daily tasks safely, such as getting to work, cooking or bathing. Epilepsy Action has called the benefit system “inadequate and ineffective” and stressed that it is putting the lives of people with epilepsy at risk.
The charity said that the assessment process does not accurately capture the specific needs of people with epilepsy. Epilepsy Action added that a lack of understanding and knowledge among assessors means people are not always getting a fair and accurate assessment.
The system needs to change
Epilepsy Action’s chief executive Philip Lee said: “The current system is failing to recognise the complex needs of people with epilepsy. PIP is supposed to be helping people with disabilities to live more independent lives. Yet, ironically, they are being denied the very independence they deserve.
“We are hearing increasingly concerning stories from people who say this has a negative impact on their safety and day-to-day living. Their physical and mental health are also being affected. Some people have even told us they feel suicidal.
“The current system needs to change. If it doesn’t, it will continue to have more devastating effects on people with epilepsy.”
Louise Bolotin, 55, has active tonic-clonic and focal seizures, but lost £307 a month overnight when she was reassessed from DLA to PIP. She said: “The seizures can happen at any time. I never know when I’m not going to be able to do stuff, I have no control.
“When a tonic-clonic seizure happens, I can’t walk or even get out of bed for 24 hours. Even getting from the bed to the bathroom is hard. The DLA helped me to pay for taxis and takeaways during times like these.
"The whole of the PIP system doesn’t take account of people with fluctuating conditions like epilepsy. It’s so frustrating to explain every aspect of your condition and how it affects your life, and then see the DWP be so dismissive.”
Epilepsy Action is campaigning for a fairer system for people with epilepsy. The charity will be submitting written evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee next month ahead of its inquiry into the PIP assessment system.
You may also be interested in...
Disability Benefits Consortium report finds process for claiming Personal Independence Payment (PIP) ‘not fit for purpose’
The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) has concluded that for many people, how Personal Independence Payment (PIP) works is “not fit for purpose”. The DBC has based its conclusion on a survey of 1,730 people who have claimed PIP.