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There are a lot of worried people posting on here, who are dreading being moved from disability living allowance (DLA) to personal independence payment (PIP). Can I offer some advice from experience I've gained with my disability support group and from campaigning when PIP was first consulted on and introduced. Firstly, lets dispel a couple of myths. The DWP do NOT have a 'list' of disabilities which qualify claimants for PIP. The only people likely to be awarded benefit without a face to face medical on account of their condition are those people who are terminally ill, who can apply under special rules. According to DWP this means having 12 months or less to live - even these people must prove they are terminally ill by providing specialist medical evidence, and currently only 45% of claims made under the special rules are allowed because the claimant is judged to have longer to live than the prescribed time. Harsh I know, but it's a fact.
With the exception of those people who have two amputated legs (either above or below knee) - who will automatically qualify for the enhanced rate mobility allowance (but NOT the daily living allowance as they will have to be assessed the same as everyone else ) - all other claimants wIll be assessed on the effect their disability or condition has on their day to day lives. It is the effect of the disability, NOT the disability itself that counts. PIP is nothing like DLA. It does not assume a certain level of disability according to the claimant's condition - it is not interested in the disability itself, but instead assesses the impact of the disability or condition on the claimants' ability to carry out a range of activities which would be encountered in everyday life. This is designed to give an overall idea of how much of a barrier the claimants' condition presents to life as experienced by people without disability.
PIP only applies to those people of working age. People who were aged 65+ in April 2013, will remain on DLA for as long as they continue to qualify. Similarly those aged under 16 will continue to claim DLA under children's rules, and will be invited to claim PIP from their 16th birthday.
Most people who claim PIP will have a face to face assessment by a qualified health professional - regardless of their condition or disability. Anyone can make a fresh claim for PIP and those who are already claiming DLA will be contacted by the DWP between now and September 2017 in order to change to PIP. The first letter will invite the claimant to ring the DWP to discuss the claim - this has to be done by the date specified in the letter or DLA may be stopped. Once the telephone conversation has taken place the claimant will be sent an application form to complete, and again, this must be returned to DWP by the date specified. Once the DWP
receive the form they will pass it to the assessment provider who will decide whether a face to face assessment is necessary - if so, they will invite the claimant to attend an assessment centre. If you do not Attend the assessment your benefit will be suspended so if the date is inconvenient make sure you contact the DWP to rearrange it.
When completing the application form it is vital that you read the questions carefully, make sure you have understood each question and that your answers are specific to each question, answering as fully as you can. Before answering think about your disability and how it affects the activity they are asking about, give details of any pain or discomfort you experience either during or after the activity, tell them about any aids or appliances you use for any activity (for example a shower stool because you cannot stand in the shower), and also about any help you need from another person. If you have an aid or appliance but still need help from someone else, it's important to say so, as is telling them about any aids or appliances you cannot use (for example, a long handled shoe horn is unlikely to be of any use to someone with paralysed or immobile feet, as they would need assistance from someone else to place their feet in shoes properly). Remember that it is not enough to say that you cannot do something, you must tell them why and what help you need with each activity. Remember also that the more information you can give and the clearer idea the DWP have about how your disability affects you,the less likely they are to ask for a face to face assessment. Any gaps you leave in the information you give, means that the assessor can ( and usually does) make assumptions which may not be correct.
Anything you say on the application form can be used to assess your needs, so remember that once you have said something you cannot take it back, and in the event of you challenging the decision, a review or tribunal hearing would want to know why you may now be saying something which contradicts what you put on the form. Make sure you include how long it takes you to complete each activity and don't guess. When it comes to the distances for the mobility component, it's really important that you don't guess - measure how far you can comfortably walk and at what point you have to stop because of pain or other discomfort.
Above all, remember that for all activities, to be judged able to do something, you have to be able to do it safely, repeatedly (as often as necessary throughout the day) and in a reasonable time period (no more than twice the maximum time it would take someone without a disability). Account also has to be taken of the type and duration of pain or other discomfort you experience, and whether you can do an activity to an acceptable standard - for example if you can walk up to 50 metres you would qualify for mobility allowance at the standard rate, but if you experience pain and have to sit and rest frequently, you may be judged as unable to walk the distance in a reasonable time, or if you are unable to walk the distance more than once in a day because of pain you experience afterwards, you may be judged as unable to complete it repeatedly. Similarly, if you fall frequently because of weakness in your legs or feet, you may be judged as not able to complete it to an acceptable standard. All of these scenarios would likely qualify someone for the enhanced rate under the reliability criteria, despite their ability to physically walk further than the maximum allowable distance for the enhanced rate - it is the manner in which they do it that counts.
Finally. Keep a copy of absolutely everything you send to the DWP -the application form and any supporting evidence you send with it. It will be invaluable in the event of an appeal.
After the assessment, if you do not agree with the decision you must ask the DWP for a mandatory reconsideration - do this by writing to them to ask them to look again at the decision - say why you disagree and point out any errors they may have made. If this is not successful you can then appeal to a tribunal.
I hope this helps and please feel free to ask any questions - I am following the discussion and will be happy to help if I can.
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