Guest post from Daniel Nyakutsey
If you are getting DLA and its been awarded to you for life or for an indefinite period, bear in mind that DWP intends to have all existing DLAs including life or indefinite awards reassessed. DWP will contact you and ask you to complete a form for reassessment but what DWP will not tell you is that, although you have an indefinite DLA award, they will terminate it if in their view you are not sick enough. So one minute you have DLA, a blink of an eye and you’ve lost your entitlement. You are probably wondering how could they do that when your condition hasn’t changed? If anything, it may have gone worse? Well, quite simple really. The thing to remember is that PIP is a points based system whereas DLA isn’t. So after you have completed the PIP form for your DLA to be reassessed for conversion to PIP, you will be given points at the medical examination that you may be asked to attend. On some occasions the assessment would be done in your home. You need to score minimum 8 points to get the standard rates and minimum 12 points to get the enhanced rates of PIP. If you are awarded less than 8 points as a result of the medical assessment; guess what? You’ve just lost your indefinite DLA award. You will be left with no DLA and no PIP.
My advice to you is very simple. Start getting ready for that day DWP is going to ask you to switch to PIP. Keep all your hospital notes, reports, test results etc handy. Get yourself a diary and start recording how your condition is affecting your ability to do simple day to day activities. Citizens Advice has a good template you can download and use for these notes. When you receive that PIP form, please get help from someone who knows how to complete this form as good as it can be. Ensure you return it to DWP with up-to-date information about your health and its impact on your day to day activities. Your hospital letters, reports and your diary needs to go with the completed form to DWP.
The PIP form would seem like a straight forward form but please don’t take it for granted. Get help to complete it because it is infact a very complex form. Finally remember, PIP is all about the points. The first 6 questions on the form are the easiest to score points on so try and get those right. It gets harder from question 7 onwards because your cognition becomes a key factor on whether you are awarded points or not. So in the case of sickle cell where to an extent, the bulk of the problems might be pain related therefore making it easier to score on the first 6 questions, if you are not able to explain how the chronic nature of pain inflicted by sickle cell might adversely impact your cognition and therefore your ability to carry out daily activities reliably, then you would risk loosing valuable points on questions 7 to 11.
If your current DLA award gives you the higher rate on mobility component, then the final two questions on the PIP form (questions 11 and 12) are your only chance to retain this component. As I said earlier, if you are not able to make the case that sickle cell pain adversely affects your cognition, then there is a very high risk possibility that you will not score any point on question 11. I can tell you that all the cases that I’ve been involved with, nobody scored points in question 11. So if you have a motability vehicle through your DLA, which naturally you would want to keep after the switch to PIP, your job to make the minimum 12 points you need for the enhanced rate of PIP, the equivalent of DLA mobility component higher rate, becomes very difficult and utmost impossible. Because you now have to make your entire 12 points from the very last question.
Those of you who follow the Welfare news coming out of DWP would have heard this in the last few weeks that nearly 14000 DLA claimants have lost their motability vehicles, obviously because they didn’t make enough points on the mobility questions. Getting help from welfare support workers does not necessarily mean you would be awarded the points for the mobility component but at the very least, you would be better prepared.
PIP generally is a hard benefit to get but it can be done. Before you even begin to complete the form, ensure you know how the points are awarded. DWP calls the points system, “descriptors”. Please Google “PIP descriptors” for a detailed explanation of the descriptors. This will help you to organise information correctly on your PIP form. To put it simply; the choice of words you use to describe how your condition adversely impacts your ability to do simple day to day activities reliably, both on the PIP form itself and at the medical assessment consultation, is effectively what would determine how many points you are likely to score. Those of you who know me or may have heard about me, can contact me and I will be more than happy to help.
Be prepared and get help early.