Personal Independence Payments
Understanding Personal Independence Payments (PIP)
Understanding how Personal Independence Payments (PIP) work and whether you are eligible may feel like the proverbial minefield to you. With acronyms flying around and forms to fill in, it can be confusing and hard to know where to start. Not to mention the assessment process which may feel quite daunting (although face-to-face assessments are not happening at the moment because of COVID-19).
This article explains the basics of PIP, the eligibility criteria and the actual claim process. We will also be producing a dedicated booklet about PIP in the near future, which will provide more detailed guidance. If you need more information or support, please contact us at UKTS. One of the key aspects to note with PIP is that: the amount you get depends on how your condition actually affects you, not the fact that you have condition itself.
What is PIP
PIP is a welfare benefit that can help you with some of the extra costs if you have a long-term ill-health or disability. You could get between £23.60 and £151.40 a week if you are aged 16 or over and have not reached state pension age. PIP is usually paid every 4 weeks. PIP is not based on the condition you have or the medication you take. It is based on the level of help you need because of how your condition affects you.
You will be assessed by a health professional to work out the level of help you are entitled to and will be reviewed regularly so it may be subject to change. Your carer could get Carer’s Allowance if you have substantial caring needs.
PIP is made up of 2 parts: a daily living component and a mobility component. Whether you get one or both of these and how much you will get, depends on how severely your condition affects you.
Background: when and why did PIP come about?
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) was introduced by the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and the Social Security Regulations 2013 (which has since been amended). The reason put forward at the time for the introduction of PIP was to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) – the older system of disability benefits. It was argued that this system of awarding an allowance to claimants with no further systematic checks to assess if the claimant’s condition had improved or worsened, was outdated. By requiring claimants to undergo periodic assessments, the Government contends that PIP targets those most in need whilst preventing payments being made to people who have recovered from a temporary disability.
How other benefits affect your PIP
You can get PIP on top of Employment and Support Allowance or other benefits. You do not need to have worked or paid National Insurance to qualify for PIP, and it doesn’t matter what your income is, if you have any savings or you are working. If you get PIP and Constant Attendance Allowance, the ‘daily living’ part of your PIP will be reduced by the amount of Constant Attendance Allowance you get. If you get Disability Living Allowance (DLA), this is ending for people aged 16 to 64. You can keep getting DLA if you are under 16 or you were born on or before 8 April 1948 and have an existing claim. You will continue getting DLA until the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) invites you to apply for PIP. You do not need to do anything until DWP writes to you about your DLA, unless your circumstances change. If you have reached State Pension age, you can apply for Attendance Allowance.
Am I eligible to claim PIP?
Basic eligibility rules You won’t be able to make a new claim for PIP once you reach State Pension age. You will continue to get PIP if you were getting it before you reached State Pension age, unless your circumstances change. To be eligible for PIP you must be aged between 16 and your State Pension age. You can check your State Pension age on https://www. gov.uk/state-pension-age You must also:
- find it hard to do everyday tasks or get around because of a physical or mental condition – you can make a claim whether you get help from another person or not,
- have found these things hard for 3 months and expect it to continue for another 9 months,
- usually live in England, Scotland or Wales when you apply,
- have lived in England, Scotland or Wales for at least 2 years – unless you are a refugee or an immediate family member of a refugee.
There are exceptions to these rules if you are terminally ill or in the armed forces. If you are already getting DLA and the DWP asks you to claim PIP there are different rules. If you have a terminal illness, the rules about how long you have found things hard and been living in England, Wales or Scotland for two years do not apply. If you are in the armed forces (or a close family member of someone who is), the rules on living and applying in England, Wales or Scotland do not apply.
As mentioned already, PIP is not based on the condition you have or the medication you take. It is based on the level of help you need because of how your condition affects you. You are assessed on the level of help you need with specific activities. It’s hard to say if the level of help you need will qualify you for PIP. But, if you get or need help with any of the following because of your condition, you should consider applying:
- preparing and cooking food
- eating and drinking
- managing your treatments
- washing and bathing
- managing toilet needs or incontinence
- dressing and undressing
- communicating with other people
- reading and understanding written information
- mixing with others
- making decisions about money
- planning a journey or following a route
- moving around
The help you get may be from a person, an aid (such as a walking stick or guide dog) or an adaptation to your home or car. If you are not eligible for PIP, you may qualify for Attendance Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit.
How do I make a claim?
You can make a new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claim by calling the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Someone else can call on your behalf, but you will need to be with them when they call. There are also other ways to claim if you find it difficult to use a telephone.
Claim by telephone or textphone
Before you call, you will need:
- your contact details
- your date of birth
- your National Insurance number – this is on letters about tax, pensions and benefits
- your bank or building society account number and sort code
- your doctor or health worker’s name, address and telephone number
- dates and addresses for any time you have spent abroad, in a care home or hospital
Telephone: 0800 917 2222 Textphone: 0800 917 7777 Calling from abroad: +44 191 218 7766 Claim by post You can get a form to send information by post (although this can delay the decision on your claim). Write a letter to ask for the form. Personal Independence Payment New Claims Post Handling Site B Wolverhampton WV99 1AH.
The assessment process:
- You will be sent a ‘How your disability affects you’ form. Call the PIP enquiry line on 0800 121 4433 if you need it in an alternative format such as braille, large print or audio CD.
- There are organisations who can help you complete your application form www.gov. uk/find-a-community-support-group-ororganisation. The Citizens Advice Bureau provides help on filling in the form (www. citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-ordisabled-people-and-carers/pip/help-withyour-claim/fill-in-form/). You can also visit www.dwp.gov.uk/pip-toolkit. The toolkit contains factsheets and example copies of claimant letters.
- Return the form to DWP; the address is on the form.
- To assess the level of help you need, an independent health professional will either invite you to a meeting or ask your health or social care worker for information.
- If you have a face-to-face meeting booked, you do not need to go to it at the moment because of coronavirus (COVID-19). DWP will contact you to let you know what you need to do; you may be offered a telephone assessment instead.
- If you are invited to a meeting, you will be asked questions about your ability to carry out activities and how your condition affects your daily life. The meeting can be either at your home or at an assessment centre and will take about an hour. As mentioned, these face-to-face meetings have currently been replaced by telephone assessments. You are allowed to have a third party on the call to support you. You can read the Citizens Advice Bureau’s information about preparing for an assessment.
- The health professional carrying out your assessment will write an independent report. This is based on the evidence you have already provided and anything you discussed if you attended a consultation.
- It is really important to provide as much relevant evidence with the inital claim as possible, as this will increase the chance of a report being completed without the need for a face-to-face or telephone assessment.
- The report will be returned to DWP who will make a decision about your PIP claim.
- .You will receive a letter that tells you whether you will receive PIP. If you do, you will be told how much you will get, when you will be paid and the date your PIP will be reviewed, so that you continue to get the right support.
- If you disagree, you can challenge a decision about your claim. This is called asking for ‘mandatory reconsideration’.
A collective voice for thalassaemia patients
At the recent UKTS patient conference, a Welfare Benefits and Liaison Officer was invited to speak to members. This was included on the programme in order to try and address some of the concerns and feedback received from members throughout the UK. Most members have found the new process extremely difficult and demoralising especially as they feel they are being judged on their outward appearance, during the interview, rather than the facts listed in the documents provided to the assessors.
At the conference, UKTS Executive Director, Romaine Maharaj reminded patients that they need to be as honest as possible when doing the interview, especially when answering questions on the following issues:
- Mobility issues. Be as factual as possible and provide answers on the majority of your days rather than the actual day of the interview. This is a common mistake as patients are normally inclined to provide polite answers rather than the truth.
- Appointments / disruption to lifestyle. Another common mistake is to just speak about your transfusion, which is generally every 2-3 weeks. It would be beneficial to formally log all your appointments/ or have someone do it for you. This will show the demand on your time, especially for those patients who need assistance to get to the various appointments.
- Pain episodes. Most patients with pain issues need to ensure that their doctors/ treatment centres are aware of this and that it is logged in your records. This is important as it would help the assessors understand that this is a very common problem for most of our patients. She urged patients to continue contacting the office with the issues and difficulties being faced with regard to PIP claims. This information is being collated and anonymised to protect the privacy of members. It will be presented at the next APPG meeting so that the Members of Parliament can be informed and become involved. Our intention is for it to be raised in parliament.
Useful numbers, websites and links for PIP DWP
PIP helpline: 0800 121 4433 or textphone 0800 121 4493
PIP new claims number: 0800 917 2222 or text phone 0800 917 7777