On Monday 22 October 2018, local Torfaen MP, Nick Thomas-Symonds, voiced his concerns about the support offered to veterans when seeking social security payments with the Secretary of State for Defence, the Rt. Hon. Gavin Williamson MP. During the exchange which took place in the House of Commons Chamber, Mr. Thomas-Symonds stated to the Secretary of State: “veterans who come to my constituency surgeries are being subjected to unnecessary face-to-face medical assessments in order to access social security payments.”

Mr. Thomas-Symonds then called on the Secretary of State to speak with his ministerial colleagues at the Department for Work and Pensions to stop this from happening: the Secretary of State confirmed that he would do this.

At present, under the assessment process for social security, applicants can be expected to attend a face-to-face assessment to determine their eligibility for the payment in question: payments such as personal independence payments (PIP). However, for those with degenerative diseases or conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, the process can cause undue stress and worsen the situation for the person concerned.

When asked about the issue, Mr. Thomas-Symonds stated:

“Too many armed forces veterans are being subjected to face-to-face medical assessments when they are not needed in order for them to access social security benefits such as Personal Independence Payments.

This is putting unnecessary pressure on our veterans. They have served their country and should be treated fairly. They should not be forced to attend assessment centres when this is not needed: for example, where they have already been seen before or they have a firm diagnosis. Such assessments are making the situation worse for our veterans and they deserve better. Home visits should also be offered in far more cases.

I will be holding the Defence Secretary to his promise to take this up with the DWP and I expect things to change. Our armed forces veterans deserve nothing less.”

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