Justin Tomlinson gets questioned on PIP assessments
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PIP claims can be made by those who are aged between 16 and state pension age and have certain physical or mental health conditions. To be eligible for PIP, a claimant must have a condition or disability where they have had difficulties with daily living or getting around (or both) for three months and expect these difficulties to continue for at least nine months. Yesterday, the DWP introduced new laws which may result in thousands of people – including those who previously found themselves to be ineligible – becoming eligible for payments.
When a person applies for PIP, the DWP will consider their ability to engage with other people face to face as part of the review/assessment process. However, from April 6 2016, there was a change in how the DWP considered the need for social support, when engaging with other people face to face, as part of the PIP assessment.
The DWP explained where someone needs “prompting”, by way of reminding, encouraging or explaining, from a person trained or experienced in assisting people in social situations, they now consider whether this is “social support”. The change introduced also clarified that social support is an ongoing need to help engage with other people. It does not need to be during or immediately before the activity.
Yesterday, the DWP broke down what this means for current, and would-be claimants, going forward: “We are looking at PIP claims from people who may be affected by this change. This includes looking again at some claims we decided on or after April 6, 2016, where PIP was awarded because of needing ‘prompting’ to engage with other people face to face. We will now consider whether they needed ‘social support’. This includes some claims where we did not award PIP.
“We will not look again at claims if:
- The enhanced rate of the daily living part of PIP has been awarded continuously since April 6, 2016
- A Tribunal has made a decision on your claim since April 6, 2016
- A decision not to award you PIP was made before April 6, 2016
“Not everyone will be eligible. If you are, we will write to you and you do not need to contact us. It may take some time for you to get this letter. We are not planning to invite you for an assessment as part of this review, but we may contact you for more information.
“If we decide that you should get more PIP, then your award will usually be backdated to April 6, 2016. If you claimed PIP after April 6, 2016, it will usually be backdated to the date you started getting PIP.
“The change to how we consider the support that someone needs is a result of a Supreme Court decision.
“You can apply for PIP again if you think you may now be eligible. The change to PIP law will apply to all new claims. It has also been applied to all PIP Reviews since September 17, 2020.
“You can contact a local support organisation or Citizens Advice to get help understanding PIP.”
PIP assessment rules were recently questioned by a Work and Pensions Committee and Justin Tomlinson, the Minister for Disabled People at the DWP, assured changes were on their way.
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On September 16, Steve McCabe the Labour MP for Birmingham, Selly Oak, raised concerns on the assessment processes facing disabled benefit claimants: “I was struck by a sentence in the National Strategy. I don’t know if you’re responsible for this, but it says, what you’re doing is reducing the need for repeated assessments for the individual’s needs [while they] remain the same.
“Why shouldn’t you apply that same principle to people on PIP and Work Capability Assessments (WCA)? I dealt with a blind constituent of mine who’s constantly called up to the office on the other side of town for his PIP assessment.
“Well his sight is not going to come back. If we’ve got the principle for this, why don’t we apply it to other benefits?”
Mr Tomlinson responded: “We couldn’t agree more.
“It’s a key part of the green paper, we have a firm commitment to remove unnecessary assessments and reassessments. That’s not a completely new concept, we’d already brought into WCA a severe disability criteria.”
Mr Tomlinson confirmed that in working with charities and stakeholders it became “abundantly clear” the Government had to remove the six month rule for terminally ill claimants. Additionally, during this process a “lightning rod” highlighted the DWP were “clearly” doing unnecessary assessments and this was “not in the claimants’ interests.”
Mr Tomlinson continued: “It’s not in our interests, we have to pay for it, there is a finite capacity, it doesn’t make sense to do that. Where you’ve, frankly, secured the highest rate of support [from PIP], and you have a degenerative condition, it is in no one’s interest to waste time assessing somebody.
“So the green paper consultation is looking at how we can identify those groups where we can remove that, we estimate potentially a fall of a million less assessments or reassessments, it’s a big number.”
Claims for PIP can be made by telephone, textphone or through the post.
When applying, the DWP notes claimants will need to have the following information at the ready:
- Your contact details, for example telephone number
- Your date of birth
- Your National Insurance number – this is on letters about tax, pensions and benefits
- Your bank or building society account number and sort code
- Your doctor or health worker’s name, address and telephone number
- Dates and addresses for any time you’ve spent in a care home or hospital
- Dates for any time you spent abroad for more than four weeks at a time, and the countries you visited
Where claimants are eligible, they’ll receive a payment made up of two elements. A daily living and mobility part.
Daily living payments will provide a weekly income of either £60 or £89.60. Mobility payments will be either £23.70 or £62.55.
PIP is usually paid once every four weeks. When a person applies for PIP , they’ll receive a decision letter which will tell them the date of their first payment and what day of the week they’ll usually be paid going forward.
Those who are eligible for PIP may also qualify for other financial help, such as Carer’s Allowance, or help with housing or transport costs.
If a person gets PIP while working, they may also be able to get the disability element of Working Tax Credit, which is worth up to £3,220 a year, or up to £4,610 if their disability is severe.
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