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Benefit Change: the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) replacing Disability Living Allowance

From April 2013 a new benefit called the Personal Independence Payment or PIP will be introduced. This will replace the current Disability Living Allowance or DLA. Disability Living Allowance is the benefit paid to people who have daily personal care needs or have difficulty walking. The new PIP will be introduced in a phased way across the country this year.

The government wants to replace DLA as it thinks the application process is complicated and that there are inconsistencies when awarding the benefit. By introducing an interview process the government thinks the assessment will be more objective and focus on those considered to have the greatest needs.

What is a PIP?
This allowance will be paid to people who have a long term health condition or who are disabled. It is not means tested. You can receive a PIP if you are employed or you receive state benefits.

The allowance is made up of 2 parts: one part is for daily living needs and the other for mobility needs. In order to qualify for the allowance you will be assessed by a healthcare professional. There is a points system to assess the level of difficulty that you have.

The 2 parts of the PIP will be paid at different rates to take account of the level of difficulty you have. There will be a “standard” rate and an “enhanced” rate depending on the assessment of your needs.

Your health problems should have lasted at least 3 months and be expected to continue for 9 months or longer to qualify for the benefit.

Who will receive a PIP?
People who have a long term health condition or who have a disability and are aged between 16 and 64 years. There are also residency rules about living in the UK.

There is no automatic entitlement to a PIP based on a particular health condition. It will depend on your individual situation and the degree of difficulty that your health problem causes you.  Each person will be assessed individually to determine if you are eligible for the allowance.

What will the PIP assessment involve?
Unlike the application for Disability Living Allowance the assessment for PIP will involve a face to face interview with a healthcare professional. They will consider your ability to carry out a series of tasks or activities that are considered to be essential to daily living and mobility.

There are 12 key activities that measure the barriers you face in your day to day life. These include things such as food preparation, eating and drinking, washing and bathing, dressing, continence problems, managing any treatment you have, moving around, communicating verbally and understanding written information, ability to manage money, mixing with other people and undertaking a journey.

The format of the questions will be similar to the Work Capability Assessment used to assess claims for Employment Support Allowance (this replaced Incapacity Benefit). PIP claimants will be given a score at the end of the assessment which indicates whether you are eligible for the benefit or not.

Information from your doctor and other people who support your care will also be invited, to contribute to making the decision.

Once a decision is made there is an appeals process if you disagree with the outcome.

What about people already receiving DLA?

Children under the age of 16 years and people over the age of 65 years will continue to receive DLA (or Attendance Allowance) as long as they are still eligible and meet the stated criteria.

For others DLA does not automatically transfer to PIP: you will receive a letter inviting you to make a claim for PIP. If you don't claim your DLA will stop.

The benefits system is complicated. If you need help with this or other benefits problems then your nearest Citizen's Advice Bureau is a good place to start. There may be other local Welfare Rights organisations that can offer to help as well.

For further information about PIP please refer to www.dwp.gov.uk/disability/personal-independence-payment

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