Woman who was refused PIP died, family successfully sue Capita for £10,000

victoria

The week after she died, a tribunal panel overturned the Department for Work and Pensions’ decision, deciding that Victoria was eligible for a PIP award that she had been refused.

Victoria Smith [pictured] passed away last July aged just 33, within weeks of being told she was not eligible for Personal Independence Payments (PIP). Her family have been awarded £10,000 in damages

Victoria’s mother, Sue Kemlo, sued Capita for making inaccurate statements on Victoria’s health assessment. However, Capita told the BBC it stood by the original decision.

Her mother, Sue Kemlo, told the BBC: “If they hadn’t cut her PIP, my daughter would still be here.” Victoria suffered from agoraphobia and fibromyalgia, which left her in constant and severe pain.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) wrote to Victoria in early 2018 to tell her she needed to be re-assessed for the benefit, which is intended to help with the additional costs of having a disability, and to support disabled people in living as independently as possible.

In March, 2018, Victoria was re-assessed at home by a healthcare professional employed by Capita. The assessment led the DWP to decide she was no longer eligible for PIP, a conclusion her mother said “was a pack of lies”.

Victoria immediately asked for a mandatory review but was again refused her PIP award by the DWP. She received the decision in June, shortly after she was admitted to hospital. The decision “destroyed” her, her mother said.

“When they took away her ability to look after herself, to have a way of life, she gave up.”

Victoria died of a brain haemorrhage. However, her doctors told the family that her underlying conditions, particularly the fibromyalgia, had deteriorated as well.

The week after she died, a tribunal panel overturned the DWP’s decision, deciding that Victoria was eligible for PIP.

Furious with the conclusions the Capita employee had reached, Victoria’s mother took legal action against the company for maladministration; on the grounds that the Capita assessor made inaccurate statements in the report.

The family has now been awarded £10,000 in damages.

“I didn’t do it for the money,” said Mrs Kemlo.

“I did it for them to admit they were wrong, to get some justice for my daughter, because (it’s) only ever been about justice for Victoria.”

In a statement to the BBC, Capita said: “We offer our deepest condolences to the family in this very tragic case.

“We have reviewed this at a senior clinical level and we are confident that our report was correct based on the information presented to us at the time of the assessment.

“Our full response to the claim was not considered by the Court as a result of a procedural issue, and as a consequence judgment in default has been entered into against us.

“We have asked the Court to investigate the procedural issue and we are expecting a response from the Court shortly.”


 

I don’t make any money from my work. I am struggling to get by, like many other ill and disabled people. But if you like, you can contribute by making a donation and help me continue to research and write informative, insightful and independent articles, and to provide support to others going through the disability assessment process, mandatory review and appeals. The smallest amount is much appreciated – thank you.

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33 thoughts on “Woman who was refused PIP died, family successfully sue Capita for £10,000

    1. I am so sorry for this family. But very happy they took them to court and rightfully cleared there daughters name. I have been saying for a long time. This is exactly what people should do . But it’s not easy to get legal aid. And this government know that. But it’s time for people to fight all the way. And even more so. For the poor people who have committed suicide. The government should be held accountable.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. This system is all wrong – people in real need are dying because of it and the government needs to do something about it. I really don’t know how these external companies can go against doctors professional reports and say people aren’t sick etc when doctors give them evidence that they are. If more people successfully sue them it might make them realise they need to assess people more fairly and not think so much of the profit they are making as a company! So sad 😪

      Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s one way of fighting back, though. This case, based on an inaccurate assessor’s report, was deemed ‘maladministration’. As someone who speaks to many people going through PIP and ESA assessments, I can tell you that most people say that this has happened to them. Capita is motivated only by making profit. That is a perverse incentive, given they were contracted by the government to restrict access to social security support. Suing them is the only way of making them pay attention to the damage and harm being caused to ill and disabled people. And this court case has set a precedent

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I know. I live these experiences myself, as I am disabled because of an illness – lupus. I also support people going through the assessment process, MRs and appeal, using my own experiences, my knowledge of policy and regulations, and my fierce anger at such grotesque cruelty and injustice

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Never a truer word said about the abomination that is Capita ….it was them who assessed me too for my PIP and totally ignored my MH issues altogether (despite me winning at tribunal pretty much solely on MH the first time), giving only points for my physical health ones……and obviously not enough to gain an award. Twice now has a tribunal ruled against them in my case.

        Part of the problem is the general public as well, who absorb and believe the scrounger rhetoric spread by this government and the media. For example, I made a couple of tweets this evening to the TV programme ‘The Last Leg’ and one idiot replied to my message about austerity and disability benefit cuts and the fact that I have had not enough to live on for 20 months , with ‘Lidl have tins of beans for 9p’…..people like that are a real problem and it’s so upsetting. It made me cry. xx

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Thank you for wanting to donate, Jacqui. If you have internet banking you can do it by transfer, but I would have to give you my bank account number and sort code. If you wanted to do it that way, I would have to send you those details privately. I could email, and would ensure your email address doesn’t get published here .

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      4. Was the assessor sacked?
        From the ‘Healthcare Professional’ (I use that term only because that is what they CLAIM to be) Job role as well as the ASSESSOR/GRAVY TRAIN role? These people make me sick!!!
        It’s a sad state of affairs when people in need are made to go through this degrading system and Pond-Scum are given a bonus to deny them the benefits they need to live.
        When you are seriously ill you should not have to suffer the burden of having to fight the DWP.
        And for the record… I am not disabled and I thank my lucky stars that I am able to work and don’t have to suffer the massive stress of having to claim disability benefits. For anyone going through it, I hope you can find the strength to fight for what should be your automatic entitlement, and I am very sorry that this is what people are being forced to do.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. ah yet the union the nurses one were one complains about your very highly trained hcp only puts a black mark on their record rather their union likes their dues off said nurses crapita like always will regurgitate their way is correct no mistakes oh dear i

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  2. I know how these families feel I was refused pip it depressed my that much I had to have counciling I never put in a mandatory appeal because of my anxiety

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m going thru my PIP Appeal now and I’m also considering suing Independent Assessment Services (aka Atos) and the “nurse” that wrote my report for the same blatant maladministration.
    Im looking at trying to sue them for complicity in knowing that their staff write false reports at the companies and DWP’s behest.
    This is now the second time in only 3 years I’ve had my PIP reduced to Standard and had my Motabilty car taken from me. Despite losing my car in August 2016 and winning my Tribunal 9 months later in 2017, they’ve done exactly the same again. I was reassessed 3 months ago in December, a full 15 months earlier than when my award was due to end in 2020!
    My car gets picked up in 2 weeks time meaning I’ll be left housebound unable to get out for God knows how long until I get a Tribunal date, upwards of 12 months waiting time in my area.
    I truly detest these fking Tories and their inhuman ideology.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. So even in the face of this tragedy, and the tribunals decision, this dastardly company are still challenging this, and so, still harassing her family. Ethics? Morality? Scruples? no, not them!

    Like

  5. I believe it’s way passed time govt stopped outsourcing the people of this country to greedy, uncaring, inhumane for profit only companies. Seems all their correspondence is generated by computer and not checked by humans before sending. Hideous.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was on DLA indefinitely and was made to go for a pip assessment the female that interviewed me seemed understanding but she wrote the usual lies about me, I had my money stopped in August last year and I haven’t had a penny since, 3 years earlier I had a similar experience with my ESA they too stopped paying me. so now I have to find a way to survive on zero income. I have just been for my appeal hearing and got refused again, I was told that I will probably have to start all over again. how am I supposed to survive without any money while this goes through again, Even if I do win next time round it will only be back dated to now and not from the time it all stopped last year, I am at my lowest ever and I don’t know how much longer I can carry on.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, the hard thing is being without any money for so long. I was asked in my appeal if I go shopping. I could have screamed at the stupid woman, how the hell can I go shopping with empty pockets.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so sorry to hear about your circumstances, Barry.

      Is there any charity that offers support in your area, such as Citizen’s Advice, or your local council’s welfare department? And also, have you contacted your MP? Some are good at this kind of support, others less so, but it’s worth a try. I hope that you get some support with this. Best wishes x

      Like

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