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I’m a Benefits Expert: How to Avoid Getting a Help Claim Denied

The process of claiming benefits can be challenging, but an expert explains how you can get the most out of your claim.

The benefits are there to help people who have found themselves in difficult situations to get that extra financial support.

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Paul Brennan is the editor of Benefit Answers

With the cost of living crisis and the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, more people are turning to the government for additional support.

But the application process can be exhausting, and many eligible people are turned away.

Claims for benefits were mistakenly denied at a record rate in 2021.

Nearly 80,000 Personal Independence Payment (PIP) applications were given the go-ahead after they were initially rejected.

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Paul Brennan is the director of Benefit Answers, which helps people who have problems with applications or what to do if they’ve been denied.

He spoke to The Sun and offered guidance on how to get the most out of an app and what to do during the evaluation.

take a step back

The first step in the benefits application process is usually to fill out a form (although you can sometimes apply over the phone, depending on the department).

The first thing Paul said is to take a step back before you put pen to paper: think about how you will present your case.

“We all find it difficult to describe our own problems and it’s important to detail and describe in as much detail as possible.”

He said it’s important to think about the everyday things we often take for granted and how they affect you.

Be consistent and explain why

Then when filling out the benefits form, the most important thing Paul said is to be consistent.

For example, someone may apply for benefits because they have Parkinson’s and their hands are shaking, which will affect their daily life.

The benefits expert explained that he has seen cases where someone said they needed help shaving, for example, because their hands were shaking, but did not say they also needed help cooking.

A counselor can spot the fact that you only mentioned needing help with one thing, when your disability or illness may affect everything.

“They look for inconsistencies,” he said.

Paul also said it might be worth asking a friend or family member what they think the applicant’s needs are, as sometimes we don’t realize our own struggles.

“If you have someone you trust, ask them to read the form.

“Ask then to see if [the form] sounds like you.”

“Sometimes you can’t see the problems yourself, ask someone to see if you’ve missed something.”

“Take the time you need and if you need more, call [benefits] office and they will give you extra time.

Get ready, get ready, get ready

You will then be called into an assessment where you will be asked questions based on what you have written, as well as other questions about why you should qualify.

Paul said the first thing to do is make sure you have a copy of your application form and keep up with everything you wrote.

Chances are, a good few weeks have passed between the application submission and the evaluation meeting, so you may have forgotten parts.

One thing applicants fall short of, which isn’t necessarily their fault, is that the counselor will use this interview to determine what your overall lifestyle looks like.

Paul said: “The problem with these evaluations is that they are a snapshot. [of someone’s life] therefore, you won’t necessarily get the true recipe for someone’s condition.”

This, he said, can sometimes work to the applicant’s detriment, as the evaluator may assume they are healthier than they really are, just because they had a “good” day.

The benefits expert then explained the structure of the interview.

“The first part is the medical problems, then they will go through the activities [you’ve listed] fit.

“[They’ll] ask him how his day is, he can repeat what he has said on the form,” he said.

“Your [the interview] a case of listening to the questions because they’ll look for inconsistencies and try to get you to say something that basically doesn’t agree with what you said on the form.”

It’s similar to a job interview, he said, in that you’ll want to present yourself in the best possible light, but you’ll also need to highlight the challenges you face every day that will qualify you for that benefit.

He likened it to going to the GP, you have to show them your ailment or injury, for example, and that’s what you’ll have to do in the assessment, otherwise they may assume you’re in better circumstances than you really are.

Paul suggested that you take someone with you and even plan how you are going to get there as this is something they will ask you too.

“They will most likely ask you how you got there, don’t shoot yourself in the foot.”

You can appeal your claim if it is denied

If your claim has been denied, you can appeal it.

At this stage, it’s always best to talk to a benefits expert for help.

You can find someone looking for an expert through your search engine.

Paul’s Benefit Answers firm is one of many firms that supports claimants if their application has been denied.

You can also get help with benefit claims from Citizen’s Advice, MoneyHelper, StepChange, and law firms that offer benefits legal advice.

If you can talk to a benefits expert, they will review your application and find out why it went wrong.

Paul said: “We put that argument to the DWP [or relevant benefits department] and I hope you have the insight to change that decision.

“Most of the time they don’t, but sometimes they do, which is great.”

If that second claim is denied, it will go to court.

It is important to ensure that you are still fully up to date on your original application form, as you will still be asked what you have written.

Paul said: “We will support them and help them explain to the Court what their problems are.

“Most of the time they will say the decision was wrong [and therefore provide the applicant with said benefits].”

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Please note that applications for benefits may vary depending on what you are applying for.

We reached out to the DWP, who said XXXX

Do you have a money problem that needs to be solved? Get in touch by emailing money-sm@news.co.uk

Do you have a money problem that needs to be solved? Get in touch by emailing money-sm@news.co.uk

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