What does good supporting evidence look like for ESA, PIP & UC WCA claims? Can you rely on the DWP to get evidence from your GP?
Supporting evidence for PIP, ESA and UC WCA applications, mandatory reconsiderations and appeals. What does good evidence look like?
If you are regular visitor to our Facebook communities, you will no doubt have seen numerous questions from our members asking how they can increase their chance of getting an award for one of the disability benefits? The answer will always include a reference to submitting "supporting evidence" but what is supporting evidence?
Supporting evidence is anything that can be submitted with a claim, mandatory reconsideration or for an appeal hearing the demonstrates how the assessment descriptors apply to the claimant because of your health problems.
What does good evidence look like?
Is it relevant?
Relevant evidence is good evidence! Evidence will be relevant if it shows how you meet the descriptions given in the questions on the application form.
The best way to ensure that your supporting evidence is relevant is to look at it and ask yourself "does this evidence describe how I meet the description in the question?" or "Does this evidence provide examples of things I cannot do, which are relevant to the descriptions in the question(s)"
If somebody (like your doctor) is writing a statement for you, show them the descriptions and questions that you think apply to you and ask them to provide examples of why your health problems prevent you from doing the task, safely, repeatedly and reliably.
Letters from doctors, mental health teams and other professionals that only state what conditions you have and/or what medication you have are fine, but remember all they are really doing is conforming a diagnosis of a condition and how it is being treated. A letter like this is not demonstrating how your health condition affects your daily life, mobility and ability to do the tasks described in the application form.
A letter that says something like "as a result of your depression you lack motivation to wash or bathe regularly and need to be prompted by your partner to do so" is going to be far more effective because it shows how you cannot do the activity in question and it references a medical condition that you have.
Supporting evidence from people other than medical professionals
Many claimants forget that supporting evidence can come from people other than medical professionals. Evidence from the people that know you the best will always carry a lot of weight because it is easy to demonstrate that they spend a lot of time with you and will see you struggling on a daily basis. Think about this, when was the last time your doctor saw you preparing a meal or having a bath?
When considering what evidence might be available think about who would have knowledge of you struggling with a particular activity. If you think a question about being able to manage your finances is applicable to you because you are generally rubbish with money, maybe a letter from your bank, landlord or other person that regularly deals with your inability to manage your finances would be better than a letter from your doctor who won't have any knowledge of how you manage your finances.
Keeping a diary of how you manage to do the activities described in the application forms can be very powerful and is a good way of demonstrating how you struggle with the tasks that you think apply to you. A set of daily diaries for 10-14 days will provide a clear picture of how you struggle on a daily basis.
Can you have too much supporting evidence?
In a word, Yes!
We are regularly asked to support people with appeal cases where the claimant has already started to send evidence into the court service, DWP or at application stage has sent in every piece of information they have relating to their medical conditions and general medical history. However, in most cases, no thought has been given to checking the contents the letters, reports, medical history, appointment letters etc to see if there is any information within them that conflicts with the answers given on the application form or in the worst cases, confirms that a particular health condition could not be found at the time of examination/consultation.
Please remember that the people that will be looking at the numerous pages of medical history that has been sent in, will be medical professionals and they will soon spot any conflicting evidence that is contained within randomly submitted supporting evidence.
From time to time we also see copies of medical records where the claimant has decided to cross out some entries or obscure them with a marker pen. Please do not do this! at best it will be annoying for the person assessing the evidence and at worst it will cast a doubt over the credibility of the information you have provided to support your claim.
Why do I need to bother sending in evidence, the DWP will write to my doctor and ask for my medical records
The DWP might write to your GP or other medical professionals you have listed on your application form, however don't rely on this. Quite often the DWP will not bother to write for supporting evidence. They don't have to request further evidence, so make life easy for them and send it in for them.
My GP has told me that he/she has sent information to the DWP, so I don't need to bother?
Don't rely on the information that your GP may have already sent to the DWP (if they requested it) The information that the DWP requests is very basic and largely amounts to an attendance record, medication records and possibly the doctors comment on your conditions.
There are rules relating to what the DWP allows a GP to put on the form that they send out to doctors for further information and one of them is that the doctor cannot give an opinion on the claimants ability to perform a task unless they have seen the claimant perform the task or a task that is similar in nature to the one in the questions.
The information that a doctor provides in response to a DWP request for information is very basic. Don't rely on it to support your claim for benefits.
DLA to PIP transfers
We see far to many instances where people have been asked to transfer from DLA to PIP and have ended up with no award or a lower award than they had on DLA.
The PIP application and assessment process is far more stringent than DLA used to be. Please do not be complacent and think that just because you have an indefinate DLA award, the transfer to PIP will be a simple case of filling in the form and attending a quick face to face assessment. Completing a successful DLA to PIP transfer will require a great deal of thought about how to answer the application form questions and you should supply plenty of relevant supporting evidence.
Providing supporting evidence that directly addresses the descriptions in the questions on the application form will make your path to an award of a benefit payment much easier and possibly a lot faster. A well written application form, that is accompanied with the correct supporting evidence may even bypass the requirement for a face to face assessment.
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