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Photo: You should contact the PIP helpline to find out where to address your complaint

If you're not happy with the way your claim has been handled you can make a complaint. Examples of this might be if your forms were lost, the DWP failed to make their service accessible to you or the assessor was rude.

If you think you were treated unfairly because of your deafness for example failing to arrange an interpreter or contact you through your preferred channel you may be able to make a claim under the Equality Act. You will need to speak to a specialist, contact our helpline for information.

How do I complain?

You can complain to the DWP if you:

  • are unhappy with the way your claim has been dealt with.
  • think the decision is taking too long.

If you're thinking of making a complaint to the DWP it’s a good idea to get advice from these places first:

If you're unhappy with the way your claim has been dealt with or if you think the decision is taking too long, or you disagree with a decision you can complain.

Usually you should start your complaint by writing to the office dealing with the claim. You can make a complaint by phone, but writing makes sure that you have a record of what you said.

The DWP suggests you call the PIP helpline on 0345 850 3322 (textphone: 0345 601 6677) to ask where exactly to address your complaint.

However you make your complaint it’s important to make sure that you explain:

  • What you think has gone wrong and why you think this is wrong – for example, you might say “I made my claim on 1 February, which is four months ago and I still haven’t had a decision. I think this delay is unacceptable”.
  • What you want the DWP to do about it – for example “I’d like my claim to be decided within the next two weeks”.
  • How the DWP will need to communicate with you (e.g. if they can’t use the phone).

Be as clear as you can be about what you think has gone wrong and what you would like the DWP to do about it.

For example, if your complaint is about delays, make sure you’re specific about dates, and explain anything you’ve done to hurry things along (e.g. “I phoned the DWP after six weeks, and again a month later and was told that they were dealing with it and I would get a decision soon”).

If you don’t get a response within the time you’ve asked, or if you’re still unhappy with the response, you can ask for the complaint to be passed to a complaints resolution manager. This is someone who is responsible for making sure that complaints are looked at and dealt with properly.

The complaints resolution manager should let you know they’ve received your complaint within 15 working days and should contact you again when they’ve finished their investigation.

If you still can’t get a satisfactory response to your complaint you can take things further by complaining to the senior manager of operations for the DWP. You should be told how to do this when the complaints resolution manager responds to your complaint.

The senior manager will ask for an independent internal review of your complaint and provide a full and final response within 15 working days.

If you're complaining because your case is taking too long, and it's been more than three months since you claimed, you could ask your MP to contact the DWP on your behalf to find out why your claim is taking so long.

If you have been through all of the DWP complaints stages and you're still unhappy you can ask the Independent Case Examiner to look at your complaint. You must contact them within six months of getting the final reply from the DWP, and you must send a copy of the DWP’s response.

If the Independent Case Examiner accepts your complaint, they’ll look at what happened and what the DWP did about it. If they think the DWP should have done more, the Examiner will ask them to put matters right. The examiner is completely independent of DWP.

If you are unhappy with the response from the Independent Case Examiner, you can ask your MP to send your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

Referencing the Equality Act in your complaint

It’s often helpful to raise Equality Act issues when making a complaint. Issues such as access to services (e.g. not providing a signer for an interview or insisting on deaf people using the phone) are clearly related to the Equality Act.

Other issues, such as poor decisions, may not seem to be related to the Equality Act at first, but they’re often due to wrong assumptions by the DWP.

For example, it’s quite common to see in decision letters that a deaf person with hearing aids or cochlear implants is assumed to be able to hear well. This may be because the person looking at the claim has assumed that hearing aids and implants replicate normal hearing, without realising that they have many limitations and weaknesses.

Raising an Equality Act issue may not only help to resolve your case, but hopefully will lead to changes in DWP practice that will benefit all deaf people.

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