Archive for the ‘ pip ’ Category

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?

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DWP announces reconsideration of eligibility criteria for PIP

The We Are Spartacus network have released a press release about the announcement that the government will re-consult on the mobility criteria. If you’d like to share it or simply read it then it’s here:

Disability campaigners welcome today’s announcement that the Government will re-consult on the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment, which replaces Disability Living Allowance for working age disabled adults. Organisations and individuals have been campaigning vigorously on this issue since we were shocked to hear, in December last year, that the walking distance criteria for the mobility component, and therefore for assistance from the Motability scheme, had been tightened from 50 metres to 20 metres.

A disabled man, Steven Sumpter, issued  legal proceedings in March arguing that the consultation process on the new benefit was flawed because the Secretary of State did not consult on the proposal to introduce the new benchmark distance of 20 metres. This was only introduced after all the consultation stages had passed. Consultees were therefore denied the opportunity to comment on the proposal or to explain to the Secretary of State how such a restriction to the benefit will affect them and their independence.

For many years the distance of 50 metres has been accepted as an appropriate distance criteria to determine limited walking ability – including for eligibility for the blue badge, for guidance to achieve an accessible built environment, in relation to other benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance and, through legal precedent and practice, for determining whether a claimant is ‘virtually unable to walk’ for the purposes of Disability Living Allowance.

Jane Young, an independent campaigner working with the We are Spartacus network, says:

“We are relieved that the DWP is to reconsider. Our concern in relation to the 20-metre distance is that disabled people with limited walking ability, who are dependent on their Motability car or other independent mobility solution funded by their allowance, would lose their eligibility and be unable to make essential journeys – to work, to visit their GP, to hospital appointments or to social activities. We fear many would effectively become isolated in their own homes, with all the implications of that for their mental and physical health.”

Whilst the Government’s announcement is extremely positive, we remain cautious. We need to make sure that the views of disabled people and their organisations are taken seriously and that the ultimate decision focuses on meeting the needs of disabled people rather than being narrowly focused on cutting the cost of the benefit. The ability of disabled people to participate in society depends on support for independent mobility; this should be the focus of this fresh consultation.

The Real Impact of PIP on Social Care

I’ve just finished reading about how PIP (Personal Independence Payments) will impact on social care services and it was really shocking. Simon Duffy from the Centre for Welfare Reform writes;

“The replacement of DLA with PIP will damage local communities by reducing the incomes of people in poverty, reducing charging income for social care and increasing the numbers entitled to social care. An average area will lose £7.5 million, but could add further costs of up to £11.25 million.”

Local councils spend a lot on social care for children and adults, in fact over 50% of their budgets are spent on it. Sadly, because it is where the most money is spent by already cash-strapped councils it is an area that is being hit hard by cuts. By 2015 local government is having it’s budgets cut by around 40%, with an average of 33% of that falling on social care.

Currently getting social care from your local council, can be like trying to squeeze blood from a stone. The level of disability that you must reach high that many in genuine need are turned away for not being “disabled enough” or they are turned away because the receive benefits like DLA which the council believes they can use to pay for care themselves. Those that do meet the standard often only receive about 8 hours of paid care a week with extra costs for much needed care being met by the disabled person or their families. This money, when not coming from personal wealth, comes the Independent Living Fund (ILF) – which is being scrapped – and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) – which is now being replaced by PIP. With council social care budgets being reduced by 33% many more disabled people in need of care will no longer be able to access care via social services which will leave them reliant on other sources of funding.

With the ILF gone, and there being a very high incidence of poverty associated with disability I hope you can see why access to the money from DLA, now becoming PIP is already and will be even more crucial when it comes to purchasing much needed social care. The kicker is that the government are planning to use the transition to PIP to cut the numbers currently receiving DLA by between 20-28%. They believe that figure is representative of those who are receiving DLA fraudulently (by which I mean people who’s conditions have improved but who haven’t told the DWP about it) or are simply not disabled enough to need the extra income. This figure seems to have been pulled out of the air. Regardless of the flawed ideology behind the changes the end result will be less money from DLA/PIP for disabled people to spend on care which means they will have to rely on the local council. Dr Simon Duffy explains;

“The government intends to reduce spending on DLA by PIP [1]. This changes will be phased in by 2018, by which time it will cut the incomes of disabled people by £1.5 billion [2]. This means that an average local authority, with a population of 300,000, will lose income that has been targeted at disabled adults of over £7.5 million. This will be a further blow to local economies. In addition it will inevitably have a further knock-on effect for the social care system.”

As I mentioned earlier, many are told they can’t have social care because they get DLA. If only 5% of those who will be loosing DLA when it becomes PIP become eligible for social care then there will be a additional cost of £1.1m. If 25% become eligible then there will be an extra £5.6m cost and if 50% become eligible there will be an additional £11.25m cost. This means that councils could be loosing between £8.6m – £18.75m at a time when council budgets social care budgets are already stretched to breaking point.

Realistically, without getting extra funding from central government to make up the deficit, councils will have to respond by raising the bar regarding eligibility criteria. This will make it far harder for many disabled people to access much needed care. Without access to social care disabled peoples independence is sorely curtailed. For many of us social care means we can go to work, take part in everyday activities and live in our own homes. Taking that away will be devastating to the lives of many.

I believe that the government would have a far harder time justifying these cuts had they done a cumulative impact assessment first. A cumulative impact assessment is when they look at knock on costs (both financial and ethical) as well as savings of the total impact of all the cuts to disability related benefits and services. We are trying to put pressure on the government to produce a cumulative impact assessment via a e-petition, you can sign it by clicking this link.

References:
[1] Kennedy S (2012) Personal Independence Payment: an introduction. London, House of Commons Library.
[2] DWP (2012) Personal Independence Payment – Reassessment and Impacts. London, DWP
Notes on PIP’s Impact on Social Care by Simon Duffy, Centre for Welfare Reform

Chronic Pain & the PIP Mobility Component

I see a lot of posts and people talking about people who “won’t get PIP” over the course of a day. One example often used is the person who can drag themselves with lots of pain & exhaustion for a few metres on a good day (however rare they are) before needing to use a wheelchair who will lose their higher rate DLA.

Messages like that cause a lot of worry for many people who are reading them. They are scary. They make me worry I’ve missed something when I read them. Over the last month I’ve been told by plenty of people that they believe conditions that often fluctuate or allow for limited mobility before needing to use a wheelchair like arthritis, EDS and fibromyalgia won’t qualify for the higher rate PIP mobility component. Having just read the new DWP guidance I really don’t believe that is true.

Hopefully this little bit of news can go a little way to easing some of those worries. When “safely, reliably & in a timely manner” are taken into account suddenly it becomes quite clear that the criteria isn’t meant to be that harsh.

Example 1

Phil has long term problems with rheumatoid arthritis and has very limited walking abilities. He needs a wheelchair for more than 50% of the days when outdoors and can only walk a few metres before being in pain and discomfort. He is assessed as 

 “Can move or stand 1m but not more than 20m, either aided or unaided”

 and scores 12 points on the assessment. He is therefore awarded enhanced rate mobility component.

I am well aware that everything depends on how this guidance is used by assessors but even so, this example will be a powerful tool when appealing decisions. This isn’t a defence of the abolition of DLA or the founding principles of PIP. Just an attempt to reassure some of the very distressed people I’ve spoken to.

Draft PIP Regulations Pass Through The Legislation Committee

Today the draft PIP regulations had a final reading which needed to be voted through by the “Eleventh Delegated Legislation Committee”. They were voted through by a fairly close margin of 10 for, 7 against.

I’ve made a storify of my live tweets for those who are interested, sorry if some are a bit harsh or don’t make too much sense I was having to type fast to keep up with the speed they were speaking at and I’m a) not a fan of PIP and b) dyslexic.
[View the story “PIP Regulations – My Live Tweets” on Storify]

Updated PIP Assessment Guide

The government have provided another update to the PIP Assessment Guide. It’s still not the final version, but it’s the best we have to work with so far.

Before I go any further, this guide isn’t legislation. It’s not the law but it is the guidance ATOS/Captia (depending on where you live), the DWP and Tribunal Judges should be working from when making decisions.
The two area’s of particular concern many of us campaigners raised in response to Decembers release of PIP criteria were; the loss of reliably, repeatedly  safely and in a timely manner from the legislation and the reduction of the distance people need to be able to physically mobilise to automatically get the enhanced level of PIP from 50m to a puny 20m. Naturally I would like to see the former put into legislation for added protection and the latter decision reversed. As that hasn’t happened (yet) I think it’s important to look at how the guidelines will/won’t protect us if we are unfortunate and do not manage to get those changes made.
These two areas are covered in section 3.3.Reliability.
The document says;

“3.2.7. For a descriptor to be able to apply to a claimant, the claimant must be able to reliably complete the activity as described in the descriptor. More information on this can be found in section 3.3.”

Then goes on to say;

“3.3.1.Central to the application of all the activities within the PIP assessment is a consideration of the manner in which they are undertaken. If an individual cannot reliably complete an activity in the way described then they should be considered unable to complete it.
3.3.2. Considering reliability involves looking at whether the claimant can complete the activity as described:
• Safely – being able to complete the activity in a fashion that is unlikely to cause harm to themselves or to another person.
• To an acceptable standard, given the nature of the activity.
• Repeatedly – being able to repeat the activity as often as is reasonably required.
• In a timely manner – being able to complete the activity in a reasonable time period.”

Which is fairly reassuring, it means that the assessors shouldn’t apply a descriptor unless it meets the reliably, repeatedly, safely & in a timely manner conditions. You can read up on example of those in the guide (Section 3.3, page 72). Of course those with fluctuating conditions have been pretty confused about how these four descriptors should be them. That is covered by the guidance too, it says;

“3.2.9. A scoring descriptor can apply to claimants in an activity where their impairment(s) affects their ability to complete an activity, at some stage of the day, on more than 50 per cent of days in the 12 month period. The following rules apply:
• If one descriptor in an activity is likely to apply on more than 50 per cent of the days in the 12 month period – i.e. the activity can be completed in the way described on more than 50 per cent of days – then that descriptor should be chosen.
• If two or more descriptors in an activity is likely to apply on more than 50 per cent of the days in the period, then the descriptor chosen should be the one which is the highest scoring.
• Where one single descriptor in an activity is likely to not be satisfied on more than 50 per cent of days, but a number of different scoring descriptors in that activity cumulatively are likely to be satisfied on more than 50 per cent of days, the descriptor likely to be satisfied for the highest proportion of the time should be selected. For example, if descriptor ‘B’ is likely to be satisfied on 40 per cent of days and descriptor ‘C’ on 30 per cent of days, descriptor ‘B’ should be chosen. Where two or more descriptors are satisfied for the same proportion of days, the descriptor which is the highest scoring should be chosen. ”  

Taking this as it stands it means that theoretically the DWP, Atos & Captia should have a hard time excluding people who should be covered by this umbrella. Of course they’d have a harder time if those words were in the actual legislation.

It’s not a win, but I feel it’s quite positive. The guidance isn’t overly vague which will make it harder for them to find loop holes. I do think it’s quite harsh in some areas, take this example;

“Mr X is able to stand and move unaided. He can comfortably walk up to 150 metres at a normal pace. After 150 metres he starts to become breathless and to experience some mild pain. He can continue to walk but his pace slows. The pain and breathlessness gradually increases and after 250 metres he needs to stop and rest for about 5 minutes before starting to walk again. Mr X can repeatedly walk 250 metres, with short 5-minute rests in between for around an hour. After an hour of this, he needs a longer rest of about an hour before walking again. It takes Mr X around four minutes to walk 200 metres.”

It then explains that Mr X would be judged as being able to mobilise safley, reliably, repeatedly and in a timely manner. I think that underestimates how short that kind of distance is and how hard it can be to find somewhere to rest. It also doesn’t look at the psychological implications of having to walk until you are in agony then stop, rest and do it all again. Though I suppose that would be covered by activity 11, planning & following journeys.

“The second area of concern is activity 12, moving around. The guidance has the following notes added to it; 

This activity should be judged in relation to a type of surface normally expected out of doors such as pavements on the flat and includes the consideration of kerbs. 

20 metres is considered to be the distance that a claimant is required to be able to repeatedly walk in order to achieve a basic level of independence in the home.
50 metres is considered to be the distance that a claimant is required to be able to repeatedly walk in order to achieve a basic level of independence outdoors.
50 to 200 metres is considered to be the distance that a claimant is required to be able to repeatedly walk in order to achieve a higher level of independence outdoors. 

Standing means to stand upright with at least one biological foot on the ground with or without suitable aids and appliances (note – a prosthesis is considered an appliance so a claimant with a unilateral prosthetic leg may be able to stand whereas a bilateral lower limb amputee would be unable to stand under this definition). 

“Stand and then move” requires an individual to stand and then move independently while remaining standing. It does not include a claimant who stands and then transfers into a wheelchair or similar device. Individuals who require a wheelchair or similar device to move a distance should not be considered able to stand and move that distance.  

Aids or appliances that a person uses to support their physical mobility may include walking sticks, crutches and prostheses.

When assessing whether the activity can be carried out reliably, consideration should be given to the manner in which they do so. This includes but is not limited to, their gait, their speed, the risk of falls and symptoms or side effects that could affect their ability to complete the activity, such as pain, breathlessness and fatigue.  

However, for this activity this only refers to the physical act of moving. For example, danger awareness is considered as part of activity 11.”

The descriptors have been altered as well, they now read;

A. Can stand and then move more than 200 metres, either aided or unaided. 0pts
B. Can stand and then move more than 50 metres but no more than 200 metres, either aided or unaided. 4pts
C. Can stand and then move unaided more than 20 metres but no more than 50 metres. 8pts
D. Can stand and then move using an aid or appliance more than 20 metres but no more than 50 metres. 10pts
For example, this would include people who can stand and move more than 20 metres but no further than 50 metres, but need to use an aid or appliance such as a stick or crutch to do so. [Not including wheelchairs]E. Can stand and then move more than 1 metre but no more than 20 metres, either aided or unaided. 12pts
F. Cannot, either aided or unaided, i. stand; or ii. move more than 1 metre. 12pts

This is a slight improvement, in that we now know that wheelchair users who need a chair to mobilise 20m or more are protected. Still, it’s far less than ideal. It would be far better if the distance was raised from 20m to 50m.

There has been a huge tide of negative news around the PIP changes recently, which whilst fully deserved, is also very upsetting when it’s all you hear & read day in and day out. I think we should take what positives we can from this. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t keep campaigning to get the changes made that we want to see, but that we should all take a few seconds to pat ourselves on the back before plugging onwards. These changes would not have been made without the tireless campaigning and awareness raising work hundreds of disabled people across the country.

If you want to keep fighting these changes you can have a look at the We Are Spartacus campaign group website for ideas and to keep up-to-date with developments.

Urgent PIP Action Needed – Draft Regulations

The government has announced it’s draft PIP regulations now all of the consultations have closed. Two of the biggest issues with these draft regulations are as follows;

  • Changing the criteria for enhanced mobility component of PIP for those with physical difficulties getting around – in a nutshell the Government has now decided that anyone who can walk more than 20 metres (it was initially supposed to be 50m) does not reach the threshold for the enhanced mobility component (unless they have difficulty planning and following a journey). The DWP itself admits that 42% fewer claimants will be awarded the enhanced mobility component that would be the case if DLA continued. We estimate about 200 people in each constituency will be affected by the loss of their car, Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle or wheelchair. That’s over 100,000 people losing out on access to the crucial Motability scheme. Higher rate DLA (which is being replaced with the enhanced mobility component) is also a gateway to many other benefits such as disabled persons travel cards  taxi-schemes, bus passes and fast-track access to the blue badge scheme. It has been hinted that the enhanced mobility will take over where Higher rate DLA leaves off. So the impact of this is even more than just the loss of monthly income & cars/wheelchairs.
  • Excluding the qualification that claimants must be able to perform an activity ‘safely, reliably, repeatedly and in a timely manner’ from the regulations themselves. Campaigners, myself included, fear is that if these qualifiers are not included in the regulations, they will not be legally enforceable and tribunals may not be able to apply them on appeal. The Spartacus Campaign Group hope to get some legal advice on this as quickly as possible. If you combine this with the change above it means that theoretically someone who could walk a maximum of 25m once a month could have their mobility competent removed. A disaster for anyone with even a vaguely fluctuating condition.
We have very little time to persuade MP’s that this is not acceptable. Please do what you can.

Hardest Hit have put a ‘contact your MP’ tool on their website and the Spartacus Campaign Group have provided information and a link to this and other resources at http://wearespartacus.org.uk/pip-emergency-act-now/

A letter/email often works best but if you don’t feel up to it there are other ways you can get in contact; you can tweet your MP or post on their facebook page if they have one to spread the word.

Fibrogirl has provided some handy graphics to help illustarate the 20m rule to MPs on her blog such as the following;

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