Personal Independence Payments

As you are probably aware the Department for Work and Pensions are currently reassessing all DLA claims for the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefit. This is for all claimants regardless of whether they had been awarded DLA indefinitely or not. Individuals will receive a point score for a number of activities, depending on how well they can carry them out and the help they need to do so. The total scores will determine whether the daily living / and or mobility component is payable, and if so, whether at the standard or enhanced rate. The entitlement threshold for each component is 8 points for the standard rate and 12 points for enhanced. The National Autistic society have produced a detailed helpful guide on the Points criteria for each of the questions – this can be downloaded from http://www.autism.org.uk/PIPor we can supply a copy.

Have you read……? There have been a lot of stories in the press about people who previously had indefinite awards to the higher rate mobility component. The revised capability assessments have led to them not being awarded the enhanced rate under the new PIP system. As a result any family members have understandably expressed concern about the impact of the reassessment on the motability component in particular.

It is worth noting that one of the reasons that the DLA benefit has been revised and updated is because it focused too much on physical disability. The DWP have stated that assessment criteria for Personal Independence Payment reflect a more complete consideration of the impact of individuals’ health conditions or impairments whether physical, sensory, mental or cognitive. It does appear that the adverse stories around PIP do seem to be regarding people with physical disabilities rather than those with mental impairments.

Our Experience

We have already completed, or helped family members to complete, the PIP capability assessment forms for a number of our people and we have been successful in achieving the enhanced rates. They key decider is the assistance an individual requires to do something, rather than on their ability to do it. So for the vast majority of the people that we support, they are perfectly capable of moving round, walking, going up and down stairs etc. However, they are unable to make a familiar journey on their own, and even less able to make an unfamiliar one. This may be down to anxieties around unfamiliar people or places, lack of road safety, inability to understand and follow timetable information, the inability to cope with something not happening when they expect it to happen, eg a bus not turning up etc. The fact that our supported people need assistance from staff to go out safely is the reason I underlined the above ‘help they need to do so’.

Many parts of the form may have a simple answer – as they may be able to do something unaided without a problem eg Qu 14 Moving Around. There are several key questions that we invariably answer that they cannot do without assistance. Qu 9 Communicating, Qu 11 Mixing with other people and Qu 13 Going out, are key questions for the people we support. In these areas we focus on the support that the individual needs to undertake an activity, and what would be the consequences if they did not have that support, always taking a worst case scenario as there is a high likelihood that the worst case will happen without that support.

When and how will it happen?

The PIP claim and reassessment will only take place when prompted by the DWP, unless a review of DLA is requested for whatever reason. The DWP are aiming to move all claims to PIP by September 2017. DLA will remain in payment until the PIP decision is made.

Each person may be requested to attend an assessment centre, despite us advising strongly against it. The appointment is issued from a company who are acting on the instructions of the DWP. They have to attempt an assessment twice under the terms of the contract with the DWP. If this appointment is missed twice they will return the case back to the DWP who may write and ask for explanation as to why it was not attended. Attending an assessment centre, this could be in the centre of Manchester or at a hospital, is highly unlikely to be achievable for many of our people. This will usually be due to anxieties and behaviours that may mean a restraint would need to be employed if we continued to try and attend, which we feel is highly inappropriate and is not a position that we would put our supported people in.

Following the assessment the DWP will decide on the length of the benefit award. This will be based on individual circumstances and the likelihood of changes occurring. Some people will get shorter awards, others will get longer ones and some will get indefinite awards (which will be subject to review).

Please feel free to contact head office if you would like to discuss any aspect of PIP.