I thought it was about time I updated you all on the PIP review process. My most recent review was due during the COVID pandemic in March 2020 (I get reviewed every 2 years; just in-case I grow a new colon!).
Firstly, let me give you some info on what PIP is and how it works!
So, what is PIP?
PIP or Personal Independence Payment, can help with extra living costs if you have both:
A long term physical or mental health condition or disability
Difficulty doing certain everyday tasks or getting around because of your condition
You can get PIP even if you are working, have savings or are getting most other benefits.
How PIP works
There are 2 parts to PIP
A daily living part- if you need help with everyday tasks
A mobility part- if you need help with getting around
Whether you get one or both parts and how much you get depends on how difficult you find everyday tasks and getting around.
In March 2020, COVID-19 was just starting to affect the UK, but I had no reason to believe it would have any effect on my review.
I followed my usual tick list for completing the PIP review paperwork:
Take out previous paperwork
Copy across anything that hasn’t changed (in pencil)
Anything new, note down as applicable (again, in pencil)
Photocopy letters from hospitals and consultants that cover any diagnosis, on- going treatment and any letters that confirm I’m on a waiting list
Ask friends and family if they have noticed any side effects from medication or symptoms of illnesses.
Once everything is correct complete the form in pen and photocopy the whole bundle of paperwork to keep for my records.
Paperwork complete, I trotted off to the post-box!
2 days later, we had the dreaded news from Boris Johnson, the UK would be going into a full lockdown. Although this was difficult news, I didn’t think that a lockdown would affect my paperwork being processed as government workers were still going to be working.
After a few weeks of baking banana bread and watching every film available on Netflix, I realised that I hadn’t had the obligatory “we’ve received your PIP forms and we’ll be in touch soon” text.
May rolled around and I decided to call the PIP enquiry line. I was greeted by a recorded message, “Due to COVID-19, we are experiencing a high call volume, please wait to be contacted” and the line cut off. I was very lucky that as I was already in receipt of PIP and this was only a review, my payments continued but it must have been incredibly stressful for new claimants!
Finally, in September 2020, I received a letter to say that I would be having a telephone health assessment in November, and they had allotted 1.5 hours given the number of conditions I have.
November came and it was time for my assessment. The assessor called nearly 2 hours later than my appointment time, which as you can imagine was very frustrating.
Unfortunately, due to my FND (Functional neurological disorder), I struggle with memory and can find phone calls quite daunting. I decided to make cue card for all my conditions and medications, something I recommend if you’re someone that had trouble remembering or even if assessments just make you a bit anxious.
I also decided to have my friend Tracey with me while I did my assessment, in case I didn’t understand a questions or became confused. The health assessor wasn’t too happy about Tracey being there and even asked her to leave the room. I declined on Tracey’s behalf as she didn’t plan on speaking unless I really needed her help.
As with face-to-face PIP health assessments I’ve had previously, the assessor was very badly prepared. They hadn’t heard of any of my conditions and the allotted 1.5 hours ended up as 45 minutes as the assessor had reached the end of their shift...
I got my award letter in December 2020, which by previous standards was quite quick! The reasoning section explaining my conditions and current treatments, unfortunately felt like half a work of fiction, including claims such as getting no medical intervention for my FND, even though I had sent in letters confirming I was on a waiting list. Unfortunately, it’s just one of those things and if you find that some information is incorrect or they’ve missed something, please make sure to tell them to ensure you get the help you’re entitled to.
The PIP payments can be very helpful for those that need extra support with everyday tasks and although it can be a stressful process, it’s important to remember that you can always ask for help from the enquiry line or ask from advice from others that have been through the process.
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by Michelle Williams
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