63-year-old woman with breast cancer waited six months for PIP

Personal Independence Payment: Advice on how to claim

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Cancer patients can’t afford to eat nutritious food to keep their strength up or visit friends in times of need because of delays to their PIP payments, a charity has claimed. Macmillan Cancer Support is campaigning for (Personal Independence Payment) PIP claims to be processed quicker after learning waiting times still haven’t improved and some patients are waiting over 16 weeks for financial help.

One woman waited six months to receive any money from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) despite having stage three breast cancer. The mum who lives in London with her husband and is a carer for her son said “I thought I’d be dead” before she received the financial support she deserved.

New figures from Macmillan Cancer Support suggest delays in processing claims for PIP are having an increasingly negative impact on the lives of people with cancer.

More than half of people with cancer who need to claim PIP (56 percent) have reported at least one issue with their health, wellbeing or finances while they wait to receive the Government help they’re entitled to.

Mrs Patel said: “I’ve really suffered from the long-term effects of the cancer treatment and on top of that, having the constant burden of money worries wears you down both physically and mentally.”

She continued: “During the worst of times, I couldn’t afford to feed myself or my family nutritious food to keep our strength up, or visit family and friends because of transport costs.  

“Without PIP I was a prisoner. Financial hardship is a reality for so many people with cancer who have to wait too long for the money they need and are entitled to.”  

The cost of living crisis is making things worse – people are now three-quarters more likely to be struggling financially while waiting for PIP compared with six months ago.

Macmillan is highlighting what a person with cancer goes through during 16 weeks, which is the average time people are waiting, by comparing rapid changes the illness can bring over this time period.

Steven McIntosh, Executive Director of Advocacy and Communications at Macmillan, said: “We’re hearing from more and more people about the devastating impact PIP delays are having, with many being forced into debt and seeing their health and wellbeing suffer as they wait for the vital support they need.

“This is unacceptable; people with cancer deserve to live well, not just survive. This is now a critical situation, and the UK Government needs to go further and faster to reduce the long waiting times with a clear plan that will ensure people with cancer get the support they deserve when they need it the most.”  

Chris Jones, Energy Team Leader on the Support Line at Macmillan Cancer Support, added: “We’re hearing from people waiting for PIP who are more worried about whether they can afford to live than they are their health, as they are forced into debt, into to skipping meals and delaying or cancelling medical appointments due to travel costs which is simply unacceptable.  

“We’re urging anyone worried about money to contact the free support available from Macmillan. We are here to make sure people get the help they need and deserve.” 

Macmillan’s latest data shows 42 percent of people with cancer on PIP have had to borrow money, use savings or have got into debt to cover costs while waiting to receive a payment, compared with 24 percent in June last year.  

Its research also found that almost one in three (32 percent) of people with cancer on PIP have to wait more than 12 weeks to receive their first payment, while one in four (25 percent) have to wait more than 16 weeks – adding up to more than 80,000 people with cancer in the UK.

Furthermore, those with longer waits continue to report the added impact this is having. The new statistics show 60 percent of those who wait more than 12 weeks for PIP say their physical or mental health has deteriorated while waiting, compared with 23 percent of those who wait 12 weeks or less.

This means those who wait more than 12 weeks for their payments to start are more than twice as likely to have seen their health deteriorate, than those who experienced shorter waits.

In response to our story the DWP said: “The Express has not provided the necessary details for us to review this individual case.

“We are committed to ensuring people can access financial support through Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in a timely manner and reducing customer journey times is a priority for the Department. In most instances PIP awards can be backdated to the date of claim.

“We are also working constantly to make improvements to our service by boosting resources and opening up assessments by phone and video, and the latest statistics show clearance times have greatly improved, returning to pre-pandemic levels.”  

Meanwhile, Macmillan is urgently calling for the UK Government to take faster action to reduce PIP delays and is asking people to support its ‘Pay PIP Now’ campaign by signing a petition calling on the UK Government to cut the 16-week average waiting time for all PIP claimants down to 12 weeks. 

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