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Disability Living Allowance

Volume 300: debated on Wednesday 5 November 1997

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if she will review the system for disability living allowance claimants to ensure claimants are properly informed at each stage of the review process as to the steps they need to take and what they are expected to prove. [12850]

We are reviewing all aspects of the Social Security system. One of our key aims is to improve the service provided to claimants and other customers.The administration of disability living allowance is a matter for Peter Mathison, chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. Paul Burstow, dated 4 November 1997:

The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about servicing the review system for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to ensure claimants are properly informed at each stage of the review process as to the steps they need to take and what they are expected to prove.
The Disability Benefits Directorate (DBD) have no specific proposals to review this system at present. We are, however, always willing to listen and respond to feedback from our customers and representatives as appropriate.
When the DBD receive a request for a review, an acknowledgement is issued to the customer explaining that the department will contact them within 6 weeks. The review request and case papers are passed to an Adjudication Officer (AO) who considers all the evidence available and whether further information is required in order to make a decision. Further information could include clarification of the level of needs arising from the customer's condition and is often obtained by issuing a DLA 434 (Review pack) or asking for information from the GP or Carer.
On receipt of the information the AO will reconsider all of the evidence available and if a decision can be made a notification, informing the customer of the outcome will be issued.
In cases where a decision cannot be made within 6 weeks a review progress letter is issued. The letter advises the customer that the review request will be dealt with as quickly as possible and that the Agency will be in contact again as soon as further information is available.
The Agency is conscious of the need to provide an efficient service to all customers. They are not asked to prove their case but to provide a full and clear picture of their needs in order that the AO can decide the appropriate entitlement.
I hope you find this reply helpful.