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What if my child wants to complain about a Personal Independence Payment decision?

Photo: Find out what to do if your child wants to make a complaint about a PIP decision

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

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

The DWP suggests your child calls the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) helpline on 0345 850 3322 (textphone: 0345 601 6677) to ask where exactly to address their complaint.

However your child makes their complaint it’s important to make sure that they explain:

  • what they think has gone wrong and why they think this is wrong – for example, they 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 they 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 them (e.g. if they can’t use the phone).

Encourage your child to be as clear as they can be about what they think has gone wrong and what they would like the DWP to do about it.

For example, if your child's complaint is about delays, make sure they’re specific about dates, and explain anything they’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 your child doesn’t get a response within the time they’ve asked, or if they’re still unhappy with the response, they 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 your child know they’ve received their complaint within 15 working days and should contact them again when they’ve finished their investigation.

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

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

If your child's complaint is that their case is taking too long, and it's been more than three months since they claimed, they could ask their MP to contact the DWP on their behalf to find out why their claim is taking so long. 

If your child has been through all of the DWP complaints stages and is still unhappy they can ask the Independent Case Examiner to look at their complaint. They must contact them within six months of getting the final reply from DWP, and they must send a copy of the DWP’s response.

If the Independent Case Examiner accepts your child's 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 your child is unhappy with the response from the Independent Case Examiner, they can ask their MP to send their 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 fairly 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.