5.1. Medical and Other Evidence

Sources of Medical Evidence

Tribunal panels value medical evidence to support the oral evidence given by Appellants. In particular, evidence of ongoing treatment for conditions claimed to be causing impairment, and the provision of specialist secondary healthcare for those conditions, is very useful, such as:

  • letters from consultants
  • reports from pain clinics
  • imaging or other test results
  • reports of surgical and other interventions
  • letters from psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors or therapy services
  • reports from physiotherapy services
  • occupational therapy assessments
  • GP summary print outs

Under the Data Protection Act 2018, client have the right to request access to their own medical records under a Subject Access Request without charge, including situations where they give consent for a third party.

As well as letters and reports written in the course of treatment, healthcare professionals, including but not limited to GPs, may be willing to write personalised letters of support and these can be invaluable.

A potential barrier to accessing these letters is that many trusts now charge a fee for their production, which can range from £10-£100, and are sometimes unaffordable for our low-income clients. Clients should be advised to ask their doctor in person, rather than going through practice administrative staff. We have also found that a letter from a representative sent directly to the doctor may elicit helpful evidence.

Some clients will already have submitted medical evidence to the tribunal. Others will have some medical evidence in their possession, and will need it to be reviewed by their representative, and submitted to the tribunal on their behalf. Many will not know the importance of submitting medical evidence, and can be encouraged to gather evidence.

The Tribunal will place the greatest weight upon evidence contemporaneous with the Appellant’s benefit claim. However, it can still be advantageous to sometimes include older medical letters if they reference points not mentioned in more recent evidence.

It should be remembered that the Tribunal decides the weight to apply to different pieces of evidence in the event of any conflict, though they should have clear reasons for rejecting oral evidence from the claimant. There is no general rule that the heathcare assessor’s report should be given preference by the Tribunal over reports from the Appellant’s doctors.

Other types of evidence

Documentation relating to previous and current disability benefit appeals can be of use (e.g. if a person is appealing ESA, their previous ESA and current and previous PIP documentation). Whilst the DWP’s position is that PIP and ESA are entirely independent benefits, and that eligibility for one has no impact on eligibility for the other, it is undeniably the case that a DWP or tribunal decision notice acknowledging great functional impairment can be persuasive.

Occasionally more unusual types of evidence may help to support a client’s case – e.g. witness statements or police reports referencing aggressive behaviour or photographic evidence of adaptations in the home or behaviours such as hoarding. If you have any questions about potential non-medical forms of evidence a Z2K staff member will be able to advise.

Last updated on February 20th, 2019 at 12:25 pm