Words by Mik Scarlet
The daunting process of claiming PIP can be a very anxious time. Read on for advice on how to ensure your claim is successful.
Last year I went through the process of being moved from my life time award for DLA onto PIP. It was a total nightmare, taking nearly a year and half to eventually receive nearly the same amount as I was awarded with DLA and had a massive impact on my mental health. As an eventual winner in the game, I thought I would offer some advice if you are about to start the process.
Back in the 1970s the government decided there should be some way of supporting disabled people, creating the Attendance Allowance and Mobility Allowance. Attendance was to help towards costs of needing support or equipment and Mobility was to help towards costs of getting around. At a time when public transport was totally inaccessible, the only choice for most disabled people was taxis or a personal car. Alongside Mobility Allowance the Motability Scheme was created, allowing disabled people to give up their allowance to hire a care. All sounds very good and altruistic eh? No. The real reason was both benefits saved the country money in the long run. It was also cheaper to give a small payment to disabled people who had issues with getting around than make public transport fully accessible.
Whatever the media might say, today’s manifestation of these 1970s benefits, PIP, saves the country money.
If you are being moved over from DLA to PIP you will be sent the forms automatically, but if you are a first-time claimant, you have to request them and pass on some details. They will send form to fill and you have around four weeks to complete and return. The form is very detailed and asks you to go into as much detail as possible about your impairment, conditions or illnesses and how they impact you. It’s vital you do this without embarrassment, in graphic detail and describe what your worst days are like.
It is important to remember the rules on the mobility section have changed since DLA and you now only get the full rate if you have problems moving around for less than 20m unaided. If you use equipment or have problems with that distance on a bad day then include this. Same goes for any equipment. If you need help doing anything, put that in the relevant sections. I know it hurts to be graphic about personal parts of your life, but sadly PIP is so invasive that to get the right amount you have to treat the forms like a doctor. This deeply impacted my self-worth as I was listing things I took for granted and became aware of how much support I needed.
You must provide as much supporting evidence as possible. I contacted my GP but all they would give me was a printed list of drugs I was taking and the medical conditions I had.
I thought I had provided evidence when I sent scans of every medical letter from each specialists I see, listing treatments and conditions, alongside my GP letter, but this wasn’t enough.
I would now advise you visit the NHS direct site and those of hospitals you visit and print pages on your condition. The more evidence you send, the easier it is moving forward.
I had my personal claim over the phone, but it is more common face to face. You are entitled to a home visit or a call due to access issues. It was once not possible to record assessments but more are as so many findings are being challenged. If recorded, insist on a copy. Remember don’t do anything you cannot do on a bad day. Explain if your condition fluctuates.
You then face the awful wait. It felt like an age, and I was given a far lower award than my DLA. I began my battle through Mandatory Reconsideration and a legal challenge. Hopefully your application will be straight forward, and you’ll get the award you deserve. Good luck, and if it doesn’t go your way, advice will be in the October issue, find out how to get your copy below.
Blogger, commentator and campaigner Chris Whitaker, who won his PIP appeal gave his top five tips:
- There is lots of support, Citizens Advice were great in helping me to fill the form in.
- Don’t let the process define you – there is much more to you and how you live life. Keep this in mind.
- If you need extra time, talk to the DWP. They should listen and be able to make allowances. Use the time you have to get evidence.
- Make sure someone is with you at the assessment to take notes.
- If all doesn’t go as expected at the first stage, you have a right to appeal, and success rates at tribunal are high. You can even reapply.
More at disabilityspeaks.com
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