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Coronavirus: Disability Benefits - PIP, DLA and AA
Coronavirus - PIP, DLA and AA
Whilst new claims for benefits are unaffected, the Coronavirus outbreak has impacted on assessments and reviews for the following disability benefits:

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Attendance Allowance (AA)
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

See bottom of page for some basic information on these benefits.


Reviews of existing awards 

Background

PIP, DLA and AA awards are normally made for a fixed period. 

Before the award is due to end, the claimant is normally asked to complete a review claim form so that the DWP can decide whether to make another award. If the claimant does not return the review claim form, their award will normally come to an end. 

For DLA and AA, the review form is normally sent out around 4-6 months before the award is due to end. If the form is not sent back, the award will not be renewed, and it will end on the date it was due to end. 

Most PIP awards have a ‘review date’ 12 months before the end date of the award period – when the DWP to send out a review form. If the claimant fails to return the review form (or the outcome of the review is that they are no longer entitled), the PIP award could end even sooner than it was due to.

But some ‘short fixed term awards’ of PIP have no review date. These are where the healthcare professional (from IAS or Capita – who carry out the medical assessments for the DWP) has indicated in their report to the DWP that they expect the claimant’s limitations to improve to such an extent that they are unlikely to have the degree of difficulty in activities that result in entitlement at the end date of the award. These claimants should receive an ‘end of award’ notification letter around 14 weeks before it is due to end. They can make a new claim if their health condition has continued. If they make their new claim before the existing award expires, the new award (if made) should start from the day after the previous one ended (although if it takes a while to assess there could be a gap in receiving payments).

What’s changed?

  • No reviews or reassessments for 3 months.
  • Automatic extension of awards.

The government has announced that for 3 months starting from 24th March 2020 there will be no new reviews or reassessments for PIP, DLA, AA, (Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance or Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit). 

Thérèse Coffey, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is quoted as saying (Click here),
We are automatically extending all awards and reassessments for health and disability benefits to provide that reassurance to those in receipt of them’. 

And the government announcement goes on to say, ‘Where awards are due to expire, we will be extending end-dates so that claimants continue to receive financial support at their current rate during this period’.


On 23rd April 2020, DWP Minister Justin Tomlinson was a bit more specific when he told the Work and Pensions Select Committee,
‘for those that would be due for a reassessment in the next three months, we’ve automatically extended their benefit by six months. 
If their condition has deteriorated, and they feel they would be entitled to more money, they can still request a reassessment but otherwise they are automatically extended.

Warning – we have heard of some claimants whose PIP award period has come to an end and not been extended – even where a new PIP2 has already been submitted but not yet assessed.

We suspect that this is likely to be ‘short fixed term awards’ with no review date – ie those which were not ‘due for re-assessment’. 

Although, on 11 May, Justin Tomlinson stated,

There was an issue for those on fixed-term, short awards, but we have now addressed that, and those claimants will continue to get an automatic six months’ extension if it is due in the next three months.

If you come across this problem the claimant could contact their MP, or the CPAG Early Warning System.

 

 

No face-to-face medical assessments 

The DWP have postponed all medical assessments until at least 19th June 2020.

This change is unlikely to affect claims for DLA for children and Attendance Allowance, which are normally processed without the requirement for a medical assessment anyway.

However, this change will affect PIP claims (and Work Capability Assessments for Universal Credit & ESA and Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit assessments).

Anyone who has a face-to-face assessment appointment scheduled from Tuesday 24th March 2020 onwards does not need to attend and will be contacted to discuss next steps and alternative arrangements, which could involve either telephone or paper-based assessments. 

On 23 April 2020, DWP Minister Justin Tomlinson told the Work and Pensions Select Committee,
‘For those new claimants, the terminally ill, and for those who ask for it, we are seeking to do it by telephone, by paper based reviews adopting a very sympathetic, claimant supportive view of this because we recognise that there are increasing challenges to be able to get adequate medical evidence so we are relying very much on the claimant’s case as they explain it.’


FAQs
I have already received my PIP/AA/DLA review form - what should I do?
If you have received a review form and you are able to complete it and return it by the deadline given, it is probably safest to return it.
If you have received a review form, but you need help from a benefits adviser and you are struggling to access the help you need due to the Coronavirus lockdown, you should contact the the PIP/AA/DLA dept to ask for an extension of the deadline.

My award is due to end soon, but I have not received my review form - what should I do?
If you have not heard from the PIP/AA/DLA dept and your (or your child’s) award is due to end within 6 months, you should ring the benefit dept to check what you should do.
If you have an award of PIP that is due to run out soon and you have not already been sent a review form, check the award notice or contact the PIP helpline to check see if it was an award with or without a review. If it was an award with a planned review, then check with the helpline if the award will be extended until it is reviewed. If there was no review planned, your award will probably stop at its end date. You should make a new claim now (before the current one expires) and, although there will be a gap (at first) between the current award ending and a decision being made on the new claim, any new award will be paid back to the date your current award ends (so no gap once it is awarded).

I get PIP. My award has another 4 years to run, but my condition has got worse and I think I should be entitled to a higher award – what should I do?
You could ask for your current award to be reviewed. 
Except in cases which fall under the special rules for terminal illness, it is a good idea to speak to a benefits adviser first, who can go through the qualifying criteria with you – as there could be a risk of your award going down instead. 
If your health condition and difficulties with daily living tasks / mobility mean you are likely to qualify for a higher award (and you are satisfied that there is no risk to your current award) then you should contact the PIP dept to explain. If you are awarded a higher rate, it will be from when you requested the review – even if the decision is delayed due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

I am an adult who still receives DLA. I am part way through the DLA to PIP reassessment and I have sent back my PIP2 form. What if the PIP assessment is delayed?
Your DLA award will probably be extended until the PIP claim can be assessed. Contact the DLA & PIP depts to check.

My 15 year old son gets DLA. His 16th birthday is in a few weeks, but we have not been contacted about claiming PIP instead. I am worried that his DLA will stop and he won’t have any PIP. What should we do?
His DLA award will probably be extended beyond his 16th birthday until the PIP re-assessment process can start. You should contact the DLA dept to check.

I don’t receive any disability benefit at the moment but I think I might be entitled to PIP – is it worth claiming at the moment as no assessments are being done?
Yes! Even if it takes a while for your claim to be assessed, if you are awarded, it will be paid from when you claimed. If you need help from a benefit adviser with completing the form, ask for an extension of the time limit to return the form.

I was due to have a face-to-face assessment – but I have been told that it will be done over the phone – how can I be sure it will be done properly?
You should get 7 days’ notice – so you should make sure you are ready to answer the call when it comes. Do some preparation. If you have a copy of your PIP2 questionnaire, read through it beforehand. Make a list of the main things you want to explain, and any medication / treatment that is not listed on the form. You are likely to be asked about a typical day – so think about the difficulties you have due to your health conditions. The call might last around an hour so make sure your battery is fully charged and have a drink of water handy. 
If you get a call without notice – it might not be a full assessment – it might be that a paper assessment is being done instead and they just need to check a couple of things.
Basic info
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
PIP is a benefit for people aged 16 or over who need help with every-day tasks and / or find it difficult to get around outdoors because of their disability or long-term health condition. 
More information about the eligibility criteria and how to claim on the gov.uk website here 

Attendance Allowance (AA)
AA is for those of State Pension Age who need help with their personal care or have supervision needs. 
You can find more information on the rules and how to claim on the gov.uk website here 

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
DLA is for children under 16 whose disabilities or health conditions mean they need help with personal care, or have supervision needs and/or have difficulty getting around outdoors. The help needed must be substantially more than that normally required for children without a disability.
More info on the gov.uk website here

NOTE: PIP has been introduced to replace DLA for adults, so there have been no new DLA claims from adults since before 8.4.13. Existing adult DLA claimants who were already over 65 on 8.4.13 could remain on DLA, but those who were under 65 on that date needed to be re-assessed for PIP instead. The re-assessment process is not yet complete.

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