PIP tips & tricks
We are often asked by clients “How can I improve my chances of success at getting the correct award of PIP? “. In general, there is no single answer that can be applied as each claimant’s situation is unique to their own application.
Firstly, we should start by assessing what evidence we can provide to the assessor and Decision Maker at the initial claim stage to assist them in making the correct decision.
Medical evidence is something that we would always advise someone to source for any stage of PIP and it can be gathered from numerous sources, the most common medical professional we suggest would be your GP. Firstly, we would suggest requesting the release of your medical records, this could be as far back as they go, or just the last 3 years. Either way, they will undoubtedly be very helpful in a majority of cases.
You may currently be under a consultant at the hospital that has a very good insight into your life and how you are affected, if this is the case, they are often more than willing to supply you with a supporting letter listing your conditions and how you are affected.
If you have had any scans at the hospital that have proved to be helpful to medical professionals, it may be worth contacting them to request a copy of the scan. Again, this is helpful in supporting your claim by providing credibility to support your claimed restrictions.
If you have been admitted to A&E and you have been required to stay in for any amount of time, this will have triggered a discharge summary of your stay. We often find that clients do not gather these at the initial application stage as they are not thought of, however, on countless occasions they have proved to be invaluable when supporting a claim at the appeal stage.
Employment and Support Allowance
If you are currently in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance, you are likely to have gone through an assessment for the benefit, this is called an ESA85. It is important to note that while the qualifying criteria for Personal Independence Payment and Employment and Support Allowance are not the same, they do have similarities. Due to this, we would advise that you request a copy of the most recent assessment from ESA so that it can be supplied as evidence to PIP.
Disability Living Allowance
We understand that Disability Living Allowance is now only obtainable up to the age of 16 years old. However, it is very common for people to move across to PIP later than others or directly after their 16th birthday. In a very similar way to Employment and Support Allowance, the qualifying criteria is not the exact same. However, we can again draw several comparisons between Personal Independence Payment and Disability Living Allowance. For that reason, even if you were on the lowest rates of Disability Living Allowance, it would make sense to call and request a review of your award and an assessment report.
It is common for a lot of clients to have undergone an Occupational Therapy assessment; in a vast majority of cases, these assessments prove to be immensely helpful in supporting a clients claim. The purpose of an Occupation Therapist is to assess you, this is typically in your home and the aim of this assessment is to consider what aids or adaptions can be made to make your day-to-day life more convenient. It may be that they have suggested you need a perching stool while preparing and cooking a meal, or that you need an electric bath seat to manage to get in and out of the bath. Our suggestion on this front is to call your local council and request a copy of this assessment. If this is the first you have heard about Occupational Therapists, this would be a good time to call your local council to get the ball rolling.
The final piece of evidence we would suggest gathering is a copy of a blue badge if this is something you have been accepted for, this would be more supportive for Activities surrounding mobility.
Other sources of medical evidence
We have suggested multiple options that you may want to gather evidence from, however, you may also have a list of other medical professionals that could be helpful. This could be a Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Chiropractor, Physiotherapist, Nutritionist, etc.
Non-medical evidence can vary from person to person, but the most common form would be a witness statement. It is important that we go over some details here, if a witness statement is being provided to you by a family member, friend or colleague, then they need to be in a position where they understand what is relevant and what is not relevant. For example, a witness could provide a statement 5 pages long, however, if the 5 pages are full of information that is not entirely relevant to a specific Activity, then it is a poorly missed opportunity. At the initial application stage, we advise that statements should be provided if possible and will put together a document to assist the witness in providing relevant information. At the mandatory reconsideration and appeal stage, we speak with the witness ourselves and take the statement over a conversation. This has proved to be invaluable over time, not only are we providing the assessor, Decision Maker or tribunal panel members with another form of credibility, but we are also providing them with another insight into the clients’ lives that you would struggle to obtain without it.
Ultimately, the best tips and tricks I can provide to you will only get you so far. The PIP process can be a gruelling and unforgiving process that can wear down the strongest of people until they have no fight left to give. Our advice to anybody dealing with PIP whether it was a fresh claim, award review, change of circumstances, mandatory reconsideration, appeal or application to appeal to the Upper Tribunal, is to always get help. We understand that getting assistance from a professional representative may be out of your price range, we try our best to accommodate this by offering extremely flexible monthly instalments on all of our services. However, if you still feel like this was not affordable to you, there are other options available to help you no matter your position. The Citizens Advice Bureau are often willing to help and our experience with clients tells us that try their best. However, their knowledge can be limited at times, and they are under immense pressure to get a lot of work out, due to this the quality of their work can be poorer at times. You may have a medical professional that has offered to assist you with the application form, this is also an offer that you could take up to increase your chances. No matter what, get some form of assistance, even if this has to come from a friend or family member, there are questions that need to be asked that would not occur to you without another person looking in.
Sending the form
While application forms are turning to online applications, we appreciate this may not suit everyone’s preference due to technical difficulties. If you are in possession of a physical form and you are ready to send it off, you have the opportunity of relying on the pre-paid envelope that they include with the form. It is important to note that while this will work a majority of the time, it occurs far too many times that the DWP claim the form has not been received sending alarms running through your brain. To ease these concerns, our suggestion is to always send the form into the DWP first class, signed for. You are given a tracking reference code for this, and you are then able to be certain that it has been received by the processing centre. We would also advise that you make copies of any evidence you are sending to them as they will not be returning the originals to you as well as making a copy of the form you have completed.
It is hard to advise people on an assessment without knowing what their claim surrounds and what they should be ensuring the assessor has understood. However, there are a couple of points that can be used across the assessment that will apply to all people.
At no point should you view the assessment as a yes or no quiz. In doing this, your answers lack detail and the relevant information you need to get across is not passed across for each Activity.
While we would never advise anyone to lie to an assessor, it is important to not make the mistake of doing the opposite. We understand that pride may get in the way of explaining what life for you is truly like on a daily basis, however, the assessors are certainly not grasping at every opportunity to score points.
We hope that these tips and tricks have been useful, let us know how you get on.