This year has seen many changes to the welfare system including the introduction of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), a new benefit, which is beginning to replace the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and which will help towards some of the extra costs of having a long-term health condition or disability for people aged between 16 and 64.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is responsible for PIP and makes the decision on claims. PIP is tax free and is not affected by earnings, other income or by any capital or savings and can be received while in work or unemployed. PIP is not designed to pay for a carer but for other types of help, such as the Motability Scheme which helps people get mobile through the lease of a car, scooter or powered wheelchair.
PIP has two components; a daily living component – for help participating in everyday life; and a mobility component – for help with getting around. The components can be paid on their own or at the same time. Each component is paid at two different levels: a ‘standard rate’ and an ‘enhanced rate’. The rate paid depends on whether the ability to carry out daily living or mobility activities is ‘limited’ or ‘severely limited’, which is tested under the PIP assessment.
Who is eligible?
Claimants must meet the basic qualifying conditions relating to age (you must be between 16 and 64), address and time spent outside Great Britain as well as disability conditions relating to daily living and mobility needs for a ‘qualifying period’. This is about how long the claimant has had and is expected to have their needs. There are ‘special rules’ for claiming PIP if terminally ill.
Starting your claim
To start a claim for PIP, telephone the DWP on 0800 917 2222. If support is needed in the call, a relative, carer or friend can make the call, however, the claimant must be present to confirm that the person supporting them has permission to make the call. Alternatively, a home visit from a DWP Officer can be requested.
Information required on the call includes full name, address and telephone number; National Insurance number; date of birth and bank details and questions will be asked such as whether there is a mental health or behavioral condition.
The PIP assessment
Once the DWP has established the basic qualifying conditions a PIP assessment claim form will be sent for completion by the claimant. The form asks questions on the ability to perform 12 activities related to daily living needs and mobility including: preparing food, washing, communicating verbally, planning and following journeys and moving around. It is points-related and the number of points scored will determine entitlement to either component of PIP and at which rate. The form does not have to be completed in one go and can be returned within one month from the date it was sent out.
The face-to-face consultation
Once the claim form and supporting evidence has been returned, the case will be passed to one of the two companies contracted to carry out the PIP assessments. Although the decision on the claim will be made by the DWP, the two companies will receive the claim form, assess it against the PIP criteria and use this to decide on the next steps. In most cases, the claimant will be asked to see a healthcare professional at a ‘face-to-face consultation’.
After the consultation
After the face-to-face consultation, the healthcare professional will complete their report and send it to a DWP ’case manager’ who will decide whether or not the claimant qualifies and at what rate. If successful a letter will be sent confirming the decision. If the claim is turned down, there is one calendar month from the date of the decision in which to ask the DWP to look at their decision again.
How long does PIP last?
The duration of the PIP award is based on individual circumstances including; where changes in needs could be expected, shorter term awards of up to two years will be given; where significant changes are less likely, longer term awards of five or ten years will be given; ongoing awards will be given in the minority of cases where needs are stable and changes are unlikely; and awards made under the ‘special rules’ for terminally ill people will be for three years. The DWP will periodically review awards, regardless of their length, to ensure that everyone continues to receive the most appropriate level of support.
When does it start?
PIP is being introduced in stages and when you can claim will depend on where you live and whether you are currently on DLA. The Government’s website has an online PIP checker so you can find out how PIP affects you and when you can claim – www.gov.uk/pip-checker.
What if you are already on DLA?
DLA is ending for people aged 16-64 and most people with a current award of DLA will be contacted about PIP between October 2015 and October 2017 and will be reassessed. Claimants will have four weeks in which to make the claim for PIP.
For more information please click the following link: http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/default/files/pdf/PIPguidetoclaiming13june2013.pdf