PIP Application Advice

I know a lot of folks that are either apply for, reapplying for and being transferred on to PIP. Heck, I’m soon going to be in the latter category. A question that often comes up is “How best can I apply?”, or “What should I write?”. Here’s my advice and I hope you find at least some of it useful.

Once you have you PIP form the best way is obviously to contact your local CAB and see if they can help you. They’ve done millions of these and know it inside and out.

Unfortunately the CAB isn’t always an option for many of us. Then we need to find ways to do it alone. In these situations I think it’s important to try to put yourself in the position of a DWP decision maker;

  • they are under pressure not to find too many eligible
  • they have to read a lot of these in a day
  • they are probably tired, stressed, and a bit numb to these applications
  • they’ve probably seen it all before

It shouldn’t be that way, but it is. If you can make it easy for them to give you points then hopefully they will

There is a simple formula I use to do these and it is as follows;

Firstly…

Look at the tables that show you what the criteria is for each section. You can find them in a handy table in this PDF from the Citizens Advice Bureau by clicking here. Or I will provide a list of the current points at the bottom of this post for those that would prefer it.

Once you have read those, look again at the wording and consider the following:

Does it apply to you?

Some of the criteria, fairly or unfairly only really measure specific types of responses to daily living & mobility tasks. Don’t waste too much time focusing your energy on areas that don’t seem to apply to you in a way your evidence can back up (we’ll talk about this crucial part soon). If you have the energy afterwards there is no harm in doing it, but for those with limited amounts of energy focus on key areas first and foremost.

Do you meet the criteria reliably?

This is a big one and it means:

  • safely in a way that is unlikely to cause harm either to you or anyone else, either during the activity or afterwards
  • to an acceptable standard
  • repeatedly as often as is reasonably required
  • in a reasonable time period – should take you no more than twice as long someone without your condition

It is different from “on my worst day”. They want to hear about how it affects you on a longer term basis. If your worst days are half or more of your week then use them, if they are monthly occurrences then remember if you do use them they may think you are exaggerating.

If you believe you can’t do something reliably then say it in the answer. Literally. You need to clearly say “I cannot reliably do this task safely/in a reasonable time period/to an acceptable standard/repeatedly because of [insert a simple description of the barrier you are meeting here]”

Do you have evidence to back up your claims?

This is a big one. You’ll note that they ask for contact details for all the important medical staff involved in your care should they feel they need to contact them for further evidence. You must remember that while they can contact them for evidence, they rarely do. Instead they’ll use the lack of evidence to turn things into a “claimant said/assessor said they witnessed/didn’t witness” choice, upon which they will normally side with the assessor.

Good evidence includes;

  • Letters in support of your claim from your GP, any hospital doctors/consultants that will write one (though many leave it to the GP), psychiatrists, CPN’s, therapists and similar.
  • Copies of your repeat prescription to show your medication.
  • Supporting letters from carers/personal assistants.Hospital discharge letters.Appointment letters that are clearly for procedures/treatments (a couple will suffice, don’t send a decades worth!)

 

All of the above become excellent evidence when they specifically reference the areas you are claiming; for example;

I can mobilise about 5m then I need a wheelchair, so a GP letter stating “Patient can mobilise 15m, but not with regularity, any further requires use of their wheelchair” is wonderful because it is precise and using language that can’t be debated. One saying “Patient struggles to walk a great distance so has to use a wheelchair” is less so. It is vague and open to different interpretations. While it confirms the wheelchair use and mobility issues it is up to them to decide how long a “great distance” is – which could be over 100m. If that is assumed and they see me walk a little at the assessment I might well find they decide I don’t deserve the highest points reward for that mobility criteria, or any at all even though I do.

Poor evidence includes;

  • Sending leaflets describing your condition/impairment. If your GP says you have it then all they care about is how it affects you in relation to these tasks, and you should be explaining that on the form.
  • Print-outs from internet blogs about your condition for the same reason as above.
  • Irrelevant letters. If it’s dated more than a few years ago only include it if it is something important, if it’s an invite to a CT scan from 5 years ago then they won’t get anything useful from it, if it is a letter confirming your diagnosis of cancer after the CT scan from 5 years ago then do include it. If you have a condition, say mild dyslexia or PCOS and it turns out that it doesn’t get covered by the descriptors don’t waste too much time trying to provide evidence for it. It’s not going to effect your points.

Putting this into use

I use the following format for my answers;

“I cannot do/ I struggle to do [activity name] [reliably/safely/in a reasonable time/repeatedly] because of [describe the impairment or symptom of my condition/medication that means I can’t do – if you can reference it in terms of the criteria the all the better]. This is supported in [name of the piece of evidence you have that supports it, such as confirmation of your condition/prescription)/medical professionals description of your issues in the area etc…] piece of evidence.”

At the face to face assessment

Try to remember these things;

  • You are being assessed from the moment you walk/roll in. They are looking for areas in which you contradict your application form. Innocent questions like “Do you have a pet?” can be used to show that you can walk your dog and therefore don’t meet a criteria, or that you can bend to look after your cat and therefore don’t meet another criteria.
  • Your mood is being assessed. If you get so anxious you go numb and stop displaying fear then you need to tell them that or they will note the you “did not seem anxious”.
  • They may not have specific targets, but they are asked to ensure that a “normal” amount of people a day are eligible. Something I think of as a target. This creates a culture where no matter how nice they are they are looking more closely at areas you don’t match rather than looking for things you can do.
  • Stiff upper lip will get you no where. Believe me, it’s what I did initially. The temptation not to appear weak or disabled is strong, and I remember when I was in that place very well. Just remember you are applying for this because there are things that you can’t do/can’t do without aid/ struggle to do reliably and they need to know that. Making out that everything is fine means they will report that everything is fine, and fine does not score points.
  • You can refer to your evidence while talking about things to back your claim up.
  • You can bring in new evidence to support your claim should you obtain any/find any in the time running up to the assessment.

Afterwards

If it doesn’t go right, remember that huge numbers of people with very real needs get low or even 0 points when initially assessed for PIP. You can do everything right and it still go wrong. If it happens to you it doesn’t mean you are seen as a faker/malingerer/making mountains out of mole hills. The vast majority of the time it means you were unlucky and the assessment report was rubbish, or the actual decision maker at the DWP missed something or misunderstood it. You can, and should appeal. Get a copy of the reasons why you were denied and using the formula above explain clearly why you believe they are wrong. once more the CAB and some local health charities can assist if you can access them. The tribunals have turned as much as 64% of “No awards”, or under marking on appeal. The odds are in your favour.

Good luck and loads of love & solidarity. This process is grueling and I wish we all didn’t have to experience it. Should it get too much do contact your friends, familiy, doctor or even the samaritans for support.

PIP Activities & Points List

Daily Living Component

You need to obtain 8 points for the standard rate, and 12 points for the enhanced rate.

1. Preparing food.
a. Can prepare and cook a simple meal unaided.  0 points.
b. Needs to use an aid or appliance to be able to either prepare or cook a simple meal.  2 points.
c. Cannot cook a simple meal using a conventional cooker but is able to do so using a microwave. points. 2 points
d. Needs prompting to be able to either prepare or cook a simple meal.  2 points.
e. Needs supervision or assistance to either prepare or cook a simple meal.  4 points.
f. Cannot prepare and cook food.  8 points.

2. Taking nutrition.
a. Can take nutrition unaided.  0 points.
b. Needs –
(i) to use an aid or appliance to  be able to take nutrition; or
(ii) supervision to be able to take nutrition; or
(iii) assistance to be able to cut up food.  2 points.
c. Needs a therapeutic source to be able to take nutrition.  2 points.
d. Needs prompting to be able to take nutrition.  4 points.
e. Needs assistance to be able to manage a therapeutic source to take nutrition.  6 points.
f. Cannot convey food and drink to their mouth and needs another person to do so.  10 points.

3. Managing therapy or monitoring a health condition.
a. Either –
(i) does not receive medication or therapy or need to monitor a health condition; or
(ii) can manage medication or therapy or monitor a health condition unaided.  0 points.
b. Needs either –
(i) to use an aid or appliance to  be able to manage medication; or
(ii) supervision, prompting or assistance to be able to manage medication or monitor
a health condition.  1 point.
c. Needs supervision, prompting or assistance to be able to manage therapy that takes no more than 3.5 hours a week.  2 points.
d. Needs supervision, prompting or assistance to be able to manage therapy that takes more than 3.5 but no more than 7 hours a week.  4 points.
e. Needs supervision, prompting or assistance to be able to manage therapy that takes more than 7 but no more than 14 hours a week.  6 points.
f. Needs supervision, prompting or assistance to be able to manage therapy that takes more than 14 hours a week.  8 points.

4. Washing and bathing.
a. Can wash and bathe unaided.  0 points.
b. Needs to use an aid or appliance to be able to wash or bathe.  2 points.
c. Needs supervision or prompting to be able to wash or bathe.  2 points.
d. Needs assistance to be able to wash either their hair or body below the waist.  2 points.
e. Needs assistance to be able to get in or out of a bath or shower.  3 points.
f. Needs assistance to be able to wash their body between the shoulders and waist.  4 points.
g. Cannot wash and bathe at all and needs another person to wash their entire body.  8 points.

5. Managing toilet needs or incontinence.
a. Can manage toilet needs or  incontinence unaided.  0 points.
b. Needs to use an aid or appliance to be able to manage toilet needs or incontinence.  2 points.
c. Needs supervision or prompting to be able to manage toilet needs.  2 points.
d. Needs assistance to be able to manage toilet needs.  4 points.
e. Needs assistance to be able to manage incontinence of either bladder or bowel.  6 points.
f. Needs assistance to be able to manage incontinence of both bladder and bowel.  8 points.

6. Dressing and undressing.
a. Can dress and undress unaided.  0 points.
b. Needs to use an aid or appliance to be able to dress or undress.  2 points.
c. Needs either –
(i) prompting to be able to dress, undress or determine appropriate circumstances for remaining clothed; or
(ii) prompting or assistance to be able to select appropriate clothing.  2 points.
d. Needs assistance to be able to dress or undress their lower body.  2 points.
e. Needs assistance to be able to dress or undress their upper body.  4 points.
f. Cannot dress or undress at  all.  8 points.

7. Communicating verbally.
a. Can express and understand verbal information unaided.  0 points.
b. Needs to use an aid or appliance to be able to speak or hear.  2 points.
c. Needs communication support to be able to express or understand complex verbal information.  4 points.
d. Needs communication support to be able to express or understand basic verbal information.  8 points.
e. Cannot express or understand verbal information at all even with communication support.  12 points.

8. Reading and understanding signs, symbols and words.
a. Can read and understand basic and complex written information either unaided or using spectacles or contact lenses.  0 points.
b. Needs to use an aid or appliance, other than spectacles or contact lenses, to be able to read or understand either basic or complex written information.  2 points.
c. Needs prompting to be able to read or understand complex written information.  2 points.
d. Needs prompting to be able to read or understand basic written information.  4 points.
e. Cannot read or understand signs, symbols or words at all.  8 points.

9. Engaging with other people face to face.
a. Can engage with other people unaided.  0 points.
b. Needs prompting to be able to engage with other people.  2 points.
c. Needs social support to be able to engage with other people.  4 points.
d. Cannot engage with other people due to such engagement causing either –
(i) overwhelming
psychological distress to the claimant; or
(ii) the claimant to exhibit behaviour which would result in a substantial risk of harm to the claimant or another person. 8 points.

10. Making budgeting decisions.
a. Can manage complex  budgeting decisions unaided.  0 points.
b. Needs prompting or assistance to be able to make complex budgeting decisions.  2 points.
c. Needs prompting or assistance to be able to make simple budgeting decisions.  4 points.
d. Cannot make any budgeting decisions at all.  6 points.

Mobility Component

You need to obtain 8 points for the standard rate, and 12 points for the enhanced rate.

1. Planning and following journeys.
a. Can plan and follow the route of a journey unaided.  0 points.
b. Needs prompting to be able to undertake any journey to avoid overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant.  4 points.
c. Cannot plan the route of a journey.  8 points.
d. Cannot follow the route of an unfamiliar journey without another person, assistance dog or orientation aid.  10 points.
e. Cannot undertake any journey because it would cause overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant.  10 points.
f. Cannot follow the route of a familiar journey without another person, an assistance dog or an orientation aid.  12 points.

2. Moving around.
a. Can stand and then move more than 200 metres, either aided or unaided.  0 points.
b. Can stand and then move more than 50 metres but no more than 200 metres, either aided or unaided.  4 points.
c. Can stand and then move unaided more than 20 metres but no more than 50 metres.  8 points.
d. Can stand and then move using an aid or appliance more than 20 metres but no more than 50 metres.  10 points.
e. Can stand and then move more than 1 metre but no more than 20 metres, either aided or unaided.  12 points.
f. Cannot, either aided or unaided, –
(i) stand; or
(ii) move more than 1 metre.  12 points.

 

 

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