Jayne Knights

We would like to welcome our first guest blogger, Jayne Knights, to the Renaissance Legal family. Jayne is an experienced welfare rights expert who specialises in making the complicated benefits system understandable. In her first blog Jayne gives you the golden rules for maximising your chances of success with a PIP initial claim or a reassessment.

Renaissance Legal’s clients with long term or indefinite Disability Living Allowance (DLA) awards may have some vital decisions to make in the upcoming months. The Government recently announced that the DLA to PIP reassessment process is now expanding to cover the whole country, rather than remain in the regional pockets we have seen so far. In practical terms, this means that anyone of ‘working age’ with an existing DLA claim can be ‘invited’ to claim PIP, or indeed can request a reassessment under the PIP rules if they think it would benefit them.

ATOS and Capita, the providers of the reassessment process, are bracing themselves for an exceptionally busy period, anticipating that at the height of the migration to PIP they will be dealing with around 2,000 claimants a day.

Let’s not forget that the Government’s very public intention with PIP was that it would produce a significant reduction in spending. The projection was that about 20% of existing DLA claimants would fail to secure PIP when reassessed, and that about 20% of new PIP claims would fail who would previously have been awarded DLA.

After a disastrously embarrassing rollout, involving various changes of Minister, recognition by both ATOS and Capita that they may just slightly have underestimated the time that a face to face medical with a disabled person might take, and people dying whilst awaiting a decision, the administration of PIP is back on track…sort of. The turn round time for a non-special rules claim is about 11 weeks, and about 6 days for special rules (terminally ill) cases.

So…..is the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) achieving its objectives, nothwithstanding the rollout hiccups and the very high expectations about saving money on the welfare budget?

Well – yes, and not in a good way if you are a claimant, an adviser or a family member. The award rates for new claims for PIP stand at about 49%, and at about 76% for DLA reassessments. This means that the DWP is on target for reassessments, with 1 in 4 existing DLA claimants being refused PIP. The statistic for new claims is pretty bleak, with only a 50-50 chance of success.

Benefits advisers have some common themes about maximising chances of success, either on an initial claim or a reassessment. Here are some golden rules.

  1. Remember that PIP, for most people, is a POINTS SCORING system, based on different ‘descriptors’ for physical and mental activities. Do not let the pen touch the paper until you are completely sure of where your points are coming from. You will need to provide examples and evidence to support everything you are saying. Don’t worry about being boring or repetitive; your mission is to provide an unassailable case as to why points should be awarded for that particular descriptor.
  2. Make a copy of everything, and send your forms by recorded delivery. Yes, even in a digital age, the DWP occasionally have been known to lose stuff behind the back of the filing cabinet.
  3. Be aware that if you are called for an assessment, then it’s because your paperwork and medical evidence has not convinced ATOS / Capita that you should be awarded PIP. Prepare thoroughly, know your points system, take someone with you, and don’t attempt anything you would not ordinarily do.
  4. It’s possible that you may get more under PIP than you do under DLA, so don’t assume that PIP is a negative thing. Many people have been pleasantly surprised at the level of their award. For example, when considering mobility issues, many people with both learning and physical disabilities have been awarded the enhanced rate of the mobility component instead of being limited to low rate DLA mobility.
  5. Having said that, get proper advice before you rock the boat with your existing DLA claim; don’t be too eager to jump ship to PIP unless you are convinced you will be better off.
  6. The internet is a wonderful thing: check out the PIP toolkit on the DWP website; plus all the PIP information on www.turn2us.co.uk, www.disabilityrightsuk.org and www.benefitsandwork.co.uk

Good luck – let us know how it goes with your DLA to PIP experiences!

For more information about Jayne Knights please visit her website.

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