19 May 2016
What: Susan Roberts takes her own life after being told she had lost a benefit appeal. DWP took just six days to decide her initial appeal, not long enough for her to submit any evidence that could have backed up her claim for personal independence payment (PIP). A DWP civil servant even told her – in a letter dismissing her mandatory reconsideration – that there was no evidence that she could have submitted that would have changed her mind. Two months later, she received another letter, this time telling her a tribunal had also rejected her appeal. Her body was discovered the following day by a care worker at her warden-assisted flat, surrounded by letters telling her that she would not be entitled to PIP. She had also placed a note by her side that informed healthcare professionals that she did not want them to attempt to resuscitate her. An inquest did not record a verdict of suicide, but her daughter is convinced that she took her own life, because of the way she died, and because her body was discovered surrounded by her PIP paperwork and the “do not resuscitate” notice.
Why significant: Further evidence of the impact of the reassessment process for the new PIP benefit, introduced in 2013 and slowly rolled out to claimants of DLA, like Susan Roberts. Mounting evidence over the following years will suggest the impact of the reassessment process on existing DLA claimants is similar to that of the ESA reassessment process (through the WCA) on IB claimants.