Alliance Communities spokesperson Kellie Armstrong MLA has called on the Communities Minister to extend supplementary payments for up to two years until a huge backlog of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) appeals are processed.
Statistics from the Department for Communities show more than 68 per cent of people have been waiting more than a year for their PIP appeal. When an appeal against a reduced payment takes longer than 12 months to be heard, supplementary payments are stopped.
“This means the person challenging an unfair decision faces a second blow when their payments stop,” said Ms Armstrong.
“PIP is supposed to help a person with a disability to be independent. But the process appears to go out of its way to make it more difficult, with almost 5,000 people in the situation of waiting over a year for their appeal to be heard. Given 67.4 percent of appeals are successful, it means the majority of decisions will eventually be overturned. It is even more distressing to think if the appeal had been heard within a reasonable time, the person with disabilities would not be faced with financial hardship’.
“Supplementary payments should be extended up to two years until the backlog is reduced, and the Minister needs to look at what additional resources are needed to ensure PIP appellants can return to safe face to face meetings where they can be accompanied by their representative.”