I recently had my DLA tribunal in the East Midlands. I first applied for DLA in April 2013 and was rejected, rejected again after reconsideration, so lodged my appeal in early September and finally had the tribunal on Monday in June 2014 so it took about an entire year that whole process. I believe I should have been entitled to middle rate care and low rate mobility (on severe mental health grounds). The tribunal was awful. I was really really anxious, my husband came with me, but it was just terrible. I really wasn’t expecting it to be like I was on trial for something but that is how I felt. A friend of a friend who is a paralegal helped me gather evidence to send beforehand and wrote submissions for me to send beforehand and the idea was that because we were so thorough I would not have to answer too many questions to stop my anxiety going through the roof. However one panel member, who was a lawyer, was AWFUL. He kept asking the same questions in different ways trying to trip me up, he kept insisting I ‘wanted’ someone outside with me ‘for reassurance’ not because having panic attacks and dizzy spells as a result requires it ‘for supervision’ as the criteria sets out even though I kept repeating it was for supervision not just reassurance. They kept treating me like I was lying, they spent ages asking me questions about a knee problem I have that has gotten a lot better over the last few months than it was when I first claimed, and basically didn’t want to talk about my mental health problems at all, I was the one who had to keep bringing them up even though they are the main reasons I put in a claim. Basically I left the room holding back tears , went into the women’s toilets and cried my eyes out for so long my husband came in to check I was ok. I felt awful and was convinced, as a law student, that I had lost. They were running about 40 minutes late so said they would write to me.
Got the letter two days later – as expected I didn’t get what I wanted… BUT I did get awarded low rate care, which is better than nothing at all. I’m mostly very upset and angry about the denial of low rate mobility which I believe I was and am entitled to. My paralegal friend has advised me to write to the tribunal requesting their statement of reasons for the decision, and then to send her a copy of it so she can see if there’s any credible basis to apply for a further appeal of the mobility rejection to the upper tribunal – but this is very rare.
As of yet I have heard nothing from the DWP about this (or my PIP claim, or how the new decision will affect my PIP claim given that the tribunal have awarded me the low rate care component until April 2015 without review). This also means that until I get my letter confirming that I receive DLA, I cannot put in any claims for housing benefit or Employment Support Allowance (ESA), both of which I am eligible to apply for as a disabled student receiving DLA, so the delays are having wide-reaching financial implications for me and my partner. The whole system is a joke.