PIP and is set to replace DLA for working age claimants from April 2013

Out with Disability Living Allowance and in with Personal Independence Payment

Independent DWP benefits’ advice by Jon Kingham, welfare rights advisor. Jon has practiced welfare rights and housing law for over 15–years in the voluntary sector where he has used his considerable knowledge and experience working with people with mental health issues. Unfortunately, Jon is unable to enter into personal correspondence in regards to DWP enquiries.

As you may be aware the Government, as part of its so–called welfare reforms are going to abolish Disability Living Allowance [DLA]. Its replacement will be called Personal Independence Payment or PIP and is set to replace DLA for working age claimants from April 2013. Whilst no new claims for DLA can be made after this time, existing claimants will be reassessed for PIP from between April 2013 to April 2017. This will be the case even if you have a life or indefinite award of DLA. PIP will have many similarities with DLA and, in particular, it will have two components: a daily living component [similar to the current care component] and a mobility component.
Despite theses similarities to DLA, the main intention behind PIP is to save money and that the tests, as laid–out in the draft regulations, are more strict. The coalition have made it clear that they believe there are too many people claiming DLA and the intention for PIP is to reduce the number of claimants. One way they are doing this is by cutting an equivalent of the low rate of care component. Whilst many claimants who are currently receiving middle or high rates of benefit will meet the new tests for PIP those receiving the low rate may find themselves excluded from the new benefit.
To get the personal independence payment you must:

  • be aged 16 to 64,
  • meet the so–called ‘prospective test’ where you need to satisfy the daily living and/or mobility activities test for three–months prior and that you will be likely to continue to satisfy the tests for a period of at least nine–months after claiming. You will not necessarily have to wait three–months before getting PIP as the qualifying period starts from when your eligible needs arise and not from when you make a claim,
  • pass the residence and presence test,
  • you will not be able to claim PIP once you reach the age of 65 but you will be able to stay on PIP if you claimed/received it before the age cut–off point,
  • you can receive PIP whether you are in or out–of–work.

The personal independence payment will have two components, each with two rates:
Daily living component:
Standard rate – If you have a limited ability to carry–out daily living activities.
Enhanced rate – If you have a severely limited ability to carry–out daily living activities.
Mobility component:
Standard rate – If you have a limited ability to carry–out mobility activities.
Enhanced rate – If you have a severely limited–ability to carry–out mobility activities.
The test will work in a similar way to ESA with a point scoring system attached to prescribed activities. In order to qualify for any component of PIP you will have score a certain number of points in relation to 11 activities. These are:

  • prepare food and drink,
  • take nutrition,
  • manage therapy or monitor a health condition,
  • bath and grooming,
  • manage toilet needs or incontinence,
  • dress and undress,
  • communicate,
  • engage socially,
  • make financial decisions,
  • plan and follow a journey,
  • move–around.

The activities: ‘Plan and follow a journey’ and ‘move–around’ are used in the test for mobility. All the other activities are used in the test for daily living.
Each activity has a set of descriptors. Points are awarded on the basis of your limitations with respect to each activity. You will need to score eight points to qualify for the standard rate and 12 points for the enhanced rate.
Whilst this is a stressful time for anyone claiming benefits there is a lot of help available and please seek independent advice over any worries you may have. Many people will successfully transfer from DLA to PIP and any advice agency should be able to talk you through the changes and assess your likely eligibility.
In the next article we will have a detailed look at the new test, compare it to the current regime and look at how it might work in practice.