Last Updated: September 2016
PIP helps with the extra costs that can be occurred because of a long-term illness or a disability. You can apply for PIP if you are aged 16 to 64 years. (If you are 65 or over you can apply for Attendance Allowance and children under 16 may be eligible for Disability Living Allowance )
If you receive PIP you could get a payment between £21.80 and £139.75 a week. The rate of payment you receive depends on how your condition affects you, not the condition itself.
PIP is made up of two components;
- Daily Living
Each component has two rates of payment:
- Enhanced Rate
- Standard Rate.
Some people may only receive one component at standard rate and others may get both at enhanced, or at two different rates. It’s based on how you are assessed and your physical and mental needs.
Your carer could get Carer’s Allowance if you have substantial caring needs.
You may get a top-up (called a premium) on the following benefits if you get PIP:
- Housing Benefit
- Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credit
- Employment and Support Allowance – but only if you get the PIP daily living component
- Pension Credit – but only if you get the PIP daily living component.
Households will be exempt from the benefit cap where you, your partner or a qualifying young person is entitled to PIP.
To apply for PIP contact:
DWP – Personal Independence Payment claims
Telephone: 0800 917 2222
Textphone: 0800 917 7777
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Initially, when you apply you will be asked for some basic information:
- Contact details and date of birth
- National Insurance number
- Bank or building society details
- Doctor’s or health worker’s name
- Details of any time you’ve spent abroad, or in a care home or hospital
Someone else can call on your behalf, but you’ll need to be with them to give permission. You can also write asking for a form to send the above information by post (this can delay the decision on your claim).
The DWP will then send you a questionnaire. This is called ’How your disability affects you’. It is very important that you complete this form with as much detail about your illness, especially as Vasculitis is rare, and provide as much evidence as you can to support your claim.
It is imperative that you think carefully about your answers and provide an accurate account, outlining the way your condition prevents you from reliably completing daily tasks and include additional help you need.
You will be assessed on the following 10 Daily Living tasks:
- preparing a cooked meal
- eating and drinking
- managing your treatments
- washing and bathing
- managing toilet needs or incontinence
- dressing and undressing
- communicating verbally
- reading and understanding written information
- mixing with others
- making decisions about money
And two mobility activities:
- Planning and following journeys.
- Moving around.
Some people find keeping a journal is useful as it makes them think about what adjustments they have made due to their conditions. This helps when they fill in their forms, especially if their condition fluctuates, then they have something to work from when giving their answers.
Also, you can ask the following people to provide a letter for evidence:
- Social Worker
- Support Worker
- Doctor or GP
Some health professionals will not be able to help with benefit applications or may charge a fee, so it’s worth including copies of anything relevant which highlights your condition. People often include their prescriptions and letters or reports sent from their doctors, which can confirm a diagnosis or an ongoing problem.
You have one month to return the completed ‘How your disability affects you’ form. Failure to return the form without good cause can result in the claim being terminated.
IMPORTANT: Keep a copy of your form and any evidence you send, as you may need to refer back at a later date.
Citizens Advice provides very comprehensive guides on applying for benefits with and may even provide face to face help in your area.
There also other organisations which can provide help with PIP applications and are listed below with the following links:
- Citizens Advice: Help filling in your PIP claim form
- turn2us PIP guide
- Disability Rights PIP guide
- Benefits and Work Points and Discriptors
- Guide to preparing for the assessment, from charity seAp
Face to Face Assessment.
Following on, you should be invited to attend an assessment at a centre or in your own home, to determine what rate you will be paid.
If you score a total of between 8 and 11 points for daily living or for mobility you will be awarded the standard rate for that component. If you score 12 points or more you will receive the enhanced rate.
If you do not qualify for at least the standard rate you will not qualify for Personal Independence Payment.
The assessment can be fairly quick, approximately 1 hour. The assessor will have a copy of your application and some set questions to ask about your health. They are trained to actively build rapport with you, so they will be friendly, polite and sympathetic but that is not a good indication of the outcome for your assessment.
The assessment starts from the moment you leave your house, because they will note how you travelled to the assessment (it is recommended to get a lift or a taxi – especially if you have said you can’t walk or use public transport), they will watch how well you managed to get in to the assessment centre, your appearance and if you managed to take off your coat yourself. They will ask you about how and what tasks you can manage. They will ask questions about your life style so they can judge what you can do. If you use any aids in home that will be recorded too.
Observations will be made about how long you can sit without getting uncomfortable, your skin tone, if you smile, if you can read the letters without a struggle…etc. All of this is used as a judgement on your ability to manage day to day tasks. They will probably ask you to perform some quick tests, but remember if you don’t feel you can manage it or if it something which will cause you pain then tell them, rather than push yourself to do something you don’t want to.
Don’t let the assessor rush you and try not to just answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to their questions. Always try to explain how doing something would make you feel afterwards and the impact it can have on you if you had to do it repeatedly in a short period of time.
Remember, they need to assess how reliably you can carry out your tasks. Some people suggest you shouldn’t make an effort to brush your hair or dress smartly, but that is entirely up to you, as you should be portraying a truthful scene of how you cope in your life with your illness/disabilities. It is important to mention if you do have help with your appearance, especially if someone helps you dress, brushes your hair or irons your clothes. Make sure you express how difficult it is living with your vasculitis and associated conditions, the numerous hospital appointments and the complexity of having a rare illness that no-one understands.
It is definitely recommended you have someone with you, especially if you have said you can’t manage certain things without help, so they can open the door, pass you a walking frame or help you get up out of the chair…etc. It is also useful as they can take notes for you and observe the whole thing, some people believe that the outcome is improved when you have someone with you.
Make sure you prepare for the assessment by being familiar with the point system and reading through your application, so you can recall what you’d stated and avoid ever using the phrase ‘on good days’ because the assessor will assume you can do more and base their findings on those days.
Take your diary, a copy of your prescription and copies of letters not already provided.
You should receive a decision within 3 weeks of the assessment, although it can take longer.
Useful links about assessments:
- Citizens Advice: Guide to preparing for your PIP assessment
- Guide to preparing for your PIP assessment from ATOS healthcare (who do the assessments for the DWP in some areas)
- Guide to preparing for your PIP assessment from Capita (who do the assessments for the DWP in some other areas)
Challenging a PIP decision:
If you are not happy with your decision or you think you have been assessed unfairly you should challenge the decision, with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
You can challenge the decisions if you didn’t any award of PIP, or you got a lower rate than you expected, or because you think your award isn’t long enough.
It is important to get as much advice and assistance as possible if you are challenging the rate you were awarded as the new decision can go up or down.
The first stage is of the review process is called a Mandatory Reconsideration . You have to ask for a Mandatory Reconsideration of the decision within one calendar month from their decision date (not the date you received it, but the date on their letter).
Government statistics show that over a half of PIP decisions are changed after mandatory reconsideration or an appeal, so it definitely worth challenging the decision if you think it’s wrong – and it’s free of charge!
You can ask for a reconsideration over the phone or by letter. Your decision letter will tell you you can ask for the reconsideration over the phone, but the best way to apply for a reconsideration is to write a letter to the DWP explaining why you disagree with the decision. If you prefer to do it over the phone, make sure you follow up the call with a letter, confirming everything you have said.
Also, if you are submitting further evidence then you need to make that clear during the call.
You need to make sure that the DWP receives the letter within 1 month of the decision.
You need to give specific reasons why you disagree with the decision. Ask the DWP to provide you with all the information they used to make your decision – you should have received the report from your assessment. Use your decision letter, statement of reasons and medical assessment report to make a note of each of the statements you disagree with and why.
Give examples and highlight discrepancies from the application and reports.
Finally, get as much medical evidence available to support what you’re saying. Ask your Doctor for a letter outlining any issues ignored at the assessment.
It is important you submit your letter within the timescales, even if you haven’t got all the evidence. Unfortunately, the DWP does not have a specific timescale and it can take a few months to get your decision letter back. When they make their decision you will get a letter called a Mandatory Reconsideration Notice. You will get two copies and you will need to send a copy off if you need an Appeal.
Do not be put off if the original decision remains, not many decisions are overturned at this stage. Many more decisions are changed after the Appeal stage of a challenge – this is known as an appeal to a tribunal.
If the DWP does change their decision, you should start getting your PIP payment straight away and will be paid from the original date of your application. If you challenged the rate then they should pay you the difference, for the time it took to make the decision.
If you are still unhappy with the decision you could get help from your local Citizens Advice, or a local disability support agency. (please see list of advice links below)
You might be able to get someone like an adviser or a solicitor to act as your representative during the appeal, your local Citizens Advice or law centre might help you find one. A representative can help you with the paperwork and might speak on your behalf. Please don’t panic if you don’t have a representative as the tribunal board is most interested in hearing how your condition affects you and in your own words. You can ask a friend or family member to help you.
You need to fill in an appeal form SSC1. Make sure you complete the whole appeal form otherwise your appeal could be rejected.
The most important part of the form is; Grounds for appeal. You must give very specific reasons why you disagree with the decision.
Using your the point system (descriptors), decision letter, statement of reasons and medical assessment report, you should note each of the statements you disagree with and why. Use facts, with specific examples and medical evidence to support your reasons.You’ve probably done this already for your mandatory reconsideration letter and you can use the same examples and pieces of evidence again, adding further information where you have any new evidence.
Always be mindful of timescales. If you miss a deadline you can still send in the SSCS1 form but you will have to give a good reason and explain why in section 5. The tribunal board will look at why your form was late and decide whether they’ll let you appeal.
It’s always better to ask to attend in person (an oral hearing). The hearing is quite an informal meeting and you have a family member or friend with you. An oral hearing allows you to explain in person and gives you a better chance.
Make sure you mention any dates you are not available as you might not be able to change it.
Send your completed documents and any evidence to the HM Courts and Tribunals Service, not to the DWP.
Post your appeal documents by recorded delivery if you can. Otherwise go to your local Post Office to post it and ask for proof of postage. This can help you later if the tribunal service says you didn’t meet the deadline or if the letter gets lost in the post.
HM Courts and Tribunals Service will check the form and then ask the DWP for their response within another 28 days.
Shortly after the Tribunal service will write to you with the date of your hearing.
For more help with a Mandatory Reconsideration and the appeal process: