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Welfare Reform: Chronic Pain

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 24th November 2011.

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Photo of Linda Riordan Linda Riordan Labour, Halifax

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to take into account the situation of people living with (a) chronic pain and (b) other conditions that are not physically evident in his proposals for welfare reform.

Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

We do not believe it right that we should judge people purely on the type of health condition or impairment that they may have. As such neither the work capability assessment nor the assessment for personal independence payment which we are currently developing, focus on the health condition or impairment a claimant has, neither do they require a specific diagnosis. Instead they look at the impact of these and their symptoms, such as pain, on individuals. The work capability assessment focuses on the impact of health conditions or impairments on capability for work, while the assessment for personal independence payment will focus on their impact on ability to carry out a series of key everyday activities.

In both assessments, basing decisions on the best available evidence is critical. This means giving the claimant the opportunity to tell us about the impact of their health condition or impairment in their own words and considering evidence from others involved in supporting claimants, such as GPs, hospital specialists or carers. In most cases, this will also involve a face-to-face assessment with a health professional trained in disability assessment medicine, to explore claimants' individual circumstances in detail. This ensures that decisions take effective account of the impact of health conditions or impairments, regardless of their type.

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