The latest figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that on January 31, 2022 there were 2.9 million people across the UK claiming support through Personal Independence Payments (PIP), with just over one in three claimants (35%) receiving the highest level of award.
Of that total, 305,279 Scots are now receiving financial support each week, an increase of 8,088 from the previous figure of 297,213 in October, 2021.
Additional data shared by Minister for Disabled People Chloe Smith, in a written response to a parliamentary question, also indicates that more PIP assessments are being conducted over the phone (77%) or on paper (16%) using the evidence submitted by the claimant .
Face-to-face meetings accounted for five per cent of consultations with video calls making up just under two per cnet.
Adult Disability Payment will replace PIP over the coming months for new and existing PIP claimants living in Scotland and will focus on making decisions from paper-based assessments.
Social Security Scotland has previously said it will only contact claimants if they need further information or clarification on details supplied, in what is being described as a “people-centric” approach.
PIP assessments from November 2021 – January 2022
- Telephone: 77.3%
- Paper: 16.3%
- Face-to-face: 4.6%
- Video: 1.8%
How to prepare for any type of PIP assessment
If you are invited to attend a PIP assessment – as part of a new claim or an award review – it could be in-person, over the phone or by video call.
Successful PIP claimants could receive between £24.45 and £156.90 every week – as PIP is paid every four weeks this amounts to between £97.80 and £627.60 every pay period.
To help you prepare for your PIP assessment, below is everything you need to know about them – whatever the format.
What is a PIP assessment?
The PIP assessment is an opportunity for you to talk about how your condition affects you – it’s not a diagnosis of your condition or a medical examination.
The DWP will take into consideration evidence from the assessment to decide if you should be awarded PIP.
A health professional will carry out your assessment, write a report and send it to the DWP decision maker.
Talking about how your condition affects you
A helpful guide on the Citizens Advice website says that you should be prepared to talk about how your condition affects you even if you’ve already detailed it on your PIP evidence form (the PIP2 document).
This can be hard to do, but it will really help if you can talk about:
the kind of things you have difficulty with, or can’t do at all – for example, walking up steps without help or remembering to go to appointments
how your condition affects you from day to day
what a bad day is like for you – for example, ‘On a bad day, I can’t walk at all because my injured leg hurts so much’ or ‘On a bad day, I’m so depressed I can’t concentrate on anything’
It’s also a good idea to have a copy of your PIP evidence claim form with you for telephone, video and face-to-face assessments, that way you, or something with you, can refer back to it.
Make sure you tell the assessor everything you want them to know about your condition and don’t tell them about any tricks or workarounds you’ve taught yourself or put in place (without support) to deal with your condition as this may count against you .
Observations on what you say and do during the assessment
The assessor will use the information you gave on your PIP claim form but also draw opinions from what you say and do on the day.
For example, they might ask you how you got to the center for a face-to-face assessment – if you say you came on the bus, they’ll make a note that you can travel alone on public transport – unless you highlight otherwise .
You might also be asked to carry out some physical tasks during the face-to-face assessment. Don’t feel you have to do things that you wouldn’t normally be able to do.
If you do them on assessment day, the assessor may think you can always do them, so if you’re not comfortable with something – say so.
During the telephone assessment you may be asked to describe how you complete simple tasks such as preparing and cooking food, getting washed and dressed and how you move around outside the home.
Don’t rush to respond, remember they are looking at your claim form and asking the same questions you have already answered.
Pause, reflect and reply
Break your answer down and take them through how you complete tasks step-by-step to paint an accurate picture of how your disability or health condition affects you.
What may seem like a drawn out process for you, will demonstrate exactly how you accomplish tasks to the assessor – so don’t try to speed up or simplify how you get things done.
The assessor will also make a note of your mental state during the assessment – for example, they will record whether you look or sound depressed or happy, tense or relaxed and how you cope with social interaction.
Things to remember during the assessment
- Don’t let the assessor rush you and try not to just answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to their questions
- Always try to explain how doing something would make you feel afterwards and the impact it can have on you if you had to do it repeatedly in a short period of time
You can have someone with you while you do the assessment over the phone, on the video call or in person, just remember to put the call on loudspeaker and advise the assessor who is with you.
Taking someone with you to a face-to-face assessment for support
The DWP has published updated guidance on attending an assessment, which you can find on the GOV.UK website here.
You can take someone with you into the actual assessment if they are 16 or over. This could be anyone who makes you feel more comfortable, like a friend, relative or carer. If you want, they can take part in discussions and make notes for you.
Before going to a face-to-face assessment
Check with your assessment provider that your assessment center has everything you need – if it doesn’t, you can ask for it. This can help make you feel more comfortable on the day.
Here are a few examples:
ask if you will have to go upstairs, and if there’s a lift that can accommodate a wheelchair if you need one
ask how roomy the center is if you get anxious in enclosed spaces – if the rooms or corridors are small, tell them this could make you anxious and see what they can offer you
ask for an interpreter or signer if you need one – do this at least two working days before your assessment so they have time to organize it
ask for the person carrying out the assessment to be the same gender as you, if that’s important to you
ask if you can make an audio recording of the assessment – you must do this three days before your assessment and ask your provider about the rules for using recording equipment
Changing the venue
If the location of your face-to-face assessment is more than 90 minutes away by public transport and you have difficulty traveling long distances, you might be offered an alternative location or home visit.
Again, refer to the newly published guidance as it includes travel restriction advice for Scotland, England and Wales.
More help available
Citizens Advice and Benefits and Work have regularly updated details available designed to help claimants understand the assessment process.
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