Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
This information is designed specifically to help beneficiaries of the Trust with their PIP applications. Getting the application form right – i.e. providing enough good information about your condition, and them confirming that information at the assessment is absolutely essential to a successful application for PIP.
There is a wealth of good quality general information available about PIP, particularly the Disability Rights Guide to claiming PIP. The information contained in this PIP Pack however focuses on the experience of Thalidomide affected people and their individual needs.
What is PIP
PIP stands for Personal Independence Payment and it is the name of the new benefit that has been introduced to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
Basic Information on how PIP works, eligibility and payment levels can be found here
The PIP Process
If you are already receiving a fixed or indefinite award of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), you do not need to apply for PIP. You will be contacted by the DWP and invited to make a new claim for PIP.
If you have never applied for or been awarded DLA, but feel that you may now be eligible, you will have to make a new claim for PIP by telephoning the DWP and you will then follow the process from stage 2.
Once you receive your letter from the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP), you have 4 weeks to contact the DWP on the number provided and provide the relatively straightforward information requested in the letter.
We would like to know when you have been contacted to move to PIP, even if you feel that you don’t need any help at this stage, it is useful for us to understand how many people are being affected by the changes. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to us to let us know
Approximately 2 weeks after you have responded to the first letter, you will receive a form entitled: ‘How your condition affects you’. You have one month to complete and return this form and it is important to remember to keep a copy of the form once you have completed it, in case you need to refer to this later on.
It is very important to complete this form as fully and clearly as possible. This is the most important part of the process.
If you are unsure or need help completing this form there are a number of places you can get help. The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has a good online tool: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/pip/help-with-your-pip-claim/fill-in-form/ and can also provide help face to face. You will need to call your local CAB and make an appointment, so do this in good time.
Click here to find your local CAB: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
If you would like more advice on where to go for help please contact us by e-mailing email@example.com . We can discuss your form with you and signpost you to a local advice service.
We can also put you in touch with a beneficiary volunteer who will help you make sure you fill the form in as thoroughly as possible.
We have put together some case studies from other beneficiaries who have been through the PIP process, to give you some idea of how to provide the information on the form and evidence your difficulties. These are just examples to help you think about your own problems, they may not all be relevant to you and you may have more to say about your own problems. However, they will help you understand how to think about the descriptors.
You can download a blank form to help you think about your own difficulties here.
You have the opportunity to send supporting evidence to back up the information you have provided in the form. This will not be taken into account unless you disagree with the outcome of the assessment, however it is useful to get it together at this stage while you are focused on producing your information.
The extra information we suggest you gather could include:
- A medical report from any specialist you have been seeing. They may charge you for this.
- Information that confirms any adaptations you have made to your home or car – e.g. invoices
- A supporting letter that provides information about how your disability affects you. The Thalidomide Trust can provide this for you Click here to see a sample letter, or you may have someone you see regularly relating to a long term condition who would also provide this – a physiotherapist for example.
- Letters confirming your appointments with any therapists you see regularly
Another excellent resource with good advice about filling in the form is the Disability Rights Guide to claiming PIP
If you need more time to fill in your form, don’t panic. You should contact the PIP claim line immediately and ask for an extension (telephone: 0345 850 3322 or textphone: 0345 601 6677). If you have a good reason, they’ll agree a new deadline over the phone. If you are worried about time and need help asking for an extension, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for help.
The DWP will pass your completed form over to either one of two contracted assessment companies: ATOS or Capita.
In some cases ATOS or CAPITA will decide they have enough information to make a decision based on the information in your form and supporting information alone. We would love to know if this happens to you – please let us know by e-mailing email@example.com
In most cases you will be contacted by ATOS or Capita and be invited to attend a face to face assessment. This will be held at an assessment centre that is relatively local to where you live. You are able to take someone with you to the assessment in certain circumstances – more details can be found here: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/pip/help-with-your-pip-claim/your-assessment/
The person carrying out the assessment will have all the information from your form. It is essential that at the assessment you repeat and reinforce this information as that is what the assessor is looking for.
The purpose of the assessment is to meet you and ask questions to confirm how your disability affects your day to day activities in the following areas:
Ten areas of daily living activity
- Preparing food
- Taking nutrition
- Managing therapy or monitoring a health condition
- Washing and bathing
- Managing toilet needs or incontinence
- Dressing and undressing
- Communicating verbally
- Reading and understanding signs, symbols and words
- Engaging with other people face to face
- Making budgeting decisions
Two areas of mobility activity
- Planning and following journeys
- Moving around
Please see the following tips from a beneficiary who has gone through the face to face assessment: pip-tips-for-face-to-face-interview
Requesting a Home Assessment
In some circumstances you can request that assessment takes place at your home, particularly if you can evidence that you have significant difficulties travelling and moving around due to your disabilities or anxiety for example and would have great difficulty getting to the assessment centre.
Evidence will need to be provided from a GP or other healthcare professional who is treating you that you are unable to travel due to health grounds
Preparing for an Assessment
The assessment is a key part of the process and it is helpful to understand the criteria that the assessor will use and how you can help them understand the impact your disability has on you.
People have told us that they find the assessment a difficult experience because it forces them to focus on the negatives and all the things they can’t do. Many beneficiaries cope very well on a day to day basis, have a very positive outlook towards their abilities and hate to define themselves as disabled. However it is very important, that the assessor understands what life is like for you most of the time to be able to award you the correct number of points.
There are two key areas – how often you have difficulty carrying out an activity and how reliably you can carry it out.
The assessor will ask about how often you experience the difficulties with the activities of daily living that you have described in your form. Everyone has good days and bad days, so sometimes you might be able to manage activities and other times you can’t. The important point for the assessment is to be clear whether you experience each difficulty on more than half of the occasions that you undertake that task within any set period, which may be a week, a month, or a year.
The assessor will award you points based on whether you can complete a task RELIABLY. The “Reliably” test is very important and means:
- You have to be able to manage an activity in a manner that is unlikely to cause any harm to yourself or anyone else. Harm doesn’t have to occur, but if it is likely to occur then you are not able to complete a task “reliably”.
For example – if you can make a sandwich (or cup of tea) on a good day but on a bad day numbness in your hand means that the knife (or kettle) might slip and you could cut yourself– you cannot prepare food reliably.
- If the effort of completing the activity makes it hard for you to repeat that particular task or prevents you from completing other tasks, e.g. due to a combination of pain and fatigue, you are not ’reliably’ able to do it.
For example – if you can go to the toilet independently in the morning using the commode, (or walk 50 metres) but cannot do it later in the day as your pain and tiredness is worse, then you cannot do it “reliably”.
In a reasonable time
- If a person did not have the same mental or physical condition as you, then how long would they take to do that task? If you would take twice as long as this, then you are not achieving that particular descriptor ‘reliably’.
For example – if you can manage to shower and dress yourself but it takes over an hour, then you cannot do it “reliably”.
To an acceptable standard
- If you perceive that you can manage a task and actually see it through but are unable to carry it out effectively, to an ‘acceptable standard’ then this has not been achieved ‘reliably’.
For example – if you can wash yourself but can’t reach your hair and certain parts of your body, then you cannot do it “reliably”.
You will be notified of the decision by letter within 4 weeks of the assessment. This will tell you which element of PIP you have been awarded and at what level.
Please let us know by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org the outcome of your PIP application for our records and if you are unhappy with the decision, contact us for help with what to do next.
If you are not happy with the outcome, you are entitled to ask for a mandatory reconsideration. This is the process whereby you formally ask the DWP to look again at their decision and can provide further evidence or information to help your case.
If you wish to appeal at a later date, you MUST have gone through this process first.
Click here for more information https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/pip/appeals/mandatory-reconsideration/
If you would like some help or advice at this stage, please contact us by e-mailing email@example.com
If you are not happy with the outcome of the DWP’s reconsideration, then you can appeal to the First Tier Tribunal in writing.
The Tribunal may be able to make a decision based on your written appeal, or you may be required to attend in person. Click here for more information on Appeals https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/pip/appeals/apply-to-tribunal/
If you are considering an appeal and feel you need some help, please contact Michelle Robinson on 01480 474074 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about the help that is available.
You can also download the whole pack here