My name is George Coppen and this year I beat the government.
It all started back in October 2015 when I received the dreaded brown envelope though my door. I had a feeling it would be the letter to say I would be receiving the PIPs (Personal Independence Payments) form in the post soon. I was hoping it wouldn’t, as the PIPS scheme had only just started and I thought it would be too soon for me. To my horror it was the PIPS letter saying that the form was on its way. I was ready and waiting to tackle the form.
A few days later the form smacked the floor as the postman delivered it. The form entitled “How your disability affects you” was like a big exam paper. It may be big but don’t be scared of it, as they want you to be scared, but you are bigger than them! I filled in all the form as they asked and explained about all the disabilities. I told them about my Dwarfism, my metal rod going down my whole back which I have had in for almost 13 years now and the fact I have arthritis. When you get this form you need to write what life is like for you on a bad day.
A week after I sent the form back I got another letter in the post with a date for me to go down for a consultation appointment on the 29th October 2015. I went down with one of my crutches (because my leg was hurting that day) and I had to sit down on the table (As there were no chairs in reception) waiting to be called. If you find yourself in this situation make sure you take a stool with you because as you are waiting there is a high chance that the person asking you the questions about your disability will walk past and see you. This is what happened to me and because I had my stick and I was sitting down they were able to see that.
I went into the room and there was just this one woman sitting there opposite a desk. I sat down and she asked me questions about what I had written on my form, as it was a long time ago I can’t remember all the questions but I do remember that some of them were very random and nothing to do with my form. I answered as honestly and as best as I could and she typed in all my answers onto the computer. One very important thing to do is to read all of your form the night before so you can refresh your memory on everything you have written.
After all the questions had finished she couldn’t say if I was entitled to PIPS as it wasn’t up to her. She had to send off all my answers to the “Department for Work and Pensions”. So now it was a matter of waiting.
On the 17th November I received the devastating letter to say that I had lost the Motability side of my PIPs which also meant I had to give back my car that I had got when I was receiving DLA (Disability living allowance) via Motability.
I was still learning to drive in my car and originally my driving test was on 31st December 2015 which was a few days before I had to give my car back. This meant I would be able to take my test in my car. Unfortunately I got an email a few days before my test to tell me that they had pushed my test back by a week and this was after my car had to go back. I rang the Department for Work and Pensions and pleaded with them to let me keep my car for an extra week. No matter how hard I tried they would not let me keep it for just an extra week so I could take my test. Thankfully I was able to use my instructor’s car and I passed first time.
When I got the letter to tell me that I had lost it there was the option at the bottom to fight the decision made. Straight away I thought I’m not going down without a fight, never have, never will. Once I had told the DWP that I wanted to appeal against the case it was just a matter of waiting for a how and when. Be prepared if you want to fight against it, there is a lot of waiting.
January and our fight had now made its way into 2016. Once again I had to wait this time for a letter to say when and where our fight would continue. The letter arrived which said I would be going in front of a tribunal on 29th March 2016. Two months to get everything ready.
The day was finally here and what ever happened it would change everything. I had to go in front of a panel of three people all with different careers. One was a doctor, one was from a disability forum and the main person was a judge. I was asked quite a few questions about my day-to-day life and how I get about. Most of the questions were asked by the woman from the disability forum. When I went I took with me my blue stool and it’s a good job I did because when I arrived the bell was too high for me to reach and the chairs were too high for me to sit on. After all the questions were asked I was asked to wait in reception while they talk. After waiting in reception for about 10 minutes I got called back in the room. That’s when they told me the good news that I had got it all back. Finally, after a long battle I finally won.
I would not have been able to win this fight if it was not for the help of my local family welfare officer who helped get all my paperwork together and my Mum. I highly advise you to try and find your local family welfare officer because they will be a massive help and having a second voice may help you win your appeal.
I have two messages first one is for anyone going through the change from DLA to PIPS. “Don’t ever give up you have to fight it and fingers crossed you will get the same outcome as me.”
My second message is for the DWP who are trying to take it away from us. “None of us will go down without a fight so you better be ready because you have no idea who you have coming your way.”
Thank you reading.