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Coronavirus: Disability Benefits - PIP, DLA and AA
Coronavirus - PIP, DLA and AA
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 this page for some basic information on these benefits.


What's the situation now?

Face to face medical assessments have resumed - but these are only being carried out if telephone or video assessments are not possible / appropriate. See this page for more information.

Claimants can face long waiting times for a decision - due to the backlog which has built up over 2020 - 2021. 

There are no extensions of award periods - things are procedurally 'back to normal' as far as new claims and reviews are concerned.

If a claimant's existing award is due to run out within the next 6 months and they have not received a review form, they should contact the relevant department. (See next section below.)

Even where a claimant has returned their review form by the deadline, they could still have a gap in payments, if the review is not carried out before the existing award period ends. (If they are re-awarded the benefit, they will receive back pay though.)


Reviews of existing awards 

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’ and 12 months before the end date of the award, 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).


Previous Coronavirus measures - most now ended!

Suspension of Reviews and Reassessments

Initially, reviews and reassessments for PIP, DLA, AA, Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance and Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit were suspended until the end of June 2020.

Automatic extension of awards

On 23rd April 2020, DWP Minister Justin Tomlinson told the Work and Pensions Select Committee,
‘for those who would be due for a reassessment in the following three months, had their award automatically extended by six months. 

If their condition had deteriorated, and they felt they would be entitled to more money, they could still request a reassessment but otherwise their award was automatically extended.’

Note - We heard of some claimants whose PIP award period came to an end and was not  extended – even where a new PIP2 had already been submitted but not yet assessed.
We suspect that this was likely to be ‘short fixed term awards’ with no review date – ie those which were not ‘due for re-assessment’. Anyone who had this problem the claimant could contact their MP, or the CPAG Early Warning System.

Face to face assessments

Face to face assessments were suspended from March 2020, but have now resumed, although only for cases where the DWP is unable to make an assessment from paper evidence or by phone (see this page).

Face-to-face assessments for Industrial Injuries Disablement benefit in England were resumed from 12 April 2021.

Face-to-face assessments for PIP and work capability assessments for Universal Credit and ESA were resumed from May 2021.

 

PIP2 Questionnaire

When someone makes a new claim for PIP, this is done over the phone. The normal procedure is that the claimant is then sent a PIP2 questionnaire by post, normally to be returned within one month.

There were some changes brought in due to the Coronavirus pandemic. 

If the claimant provided their email address during the initial phone call, the PIP2 can be emailed to them. They could complete it electronically and return the completed copy (and copies of any evidence) by email.

Note - the DWP are continuing to offer email forms to some claimants as part of a pilot to test the effectiveness of this method.

Of course, this won't be an option for all claimants - as some won't have access to email. 

Claimants who have a benefits adviser supporting them, who is planning to help them to complete the PIP2 questionnaire, could ask the claimant to email the link their adviser. 

Another temporary change was that the deadline to return the PIP2 was extended to 3 months, although this has now returned to one month. But note that if one month is not long enough (eg. if the claimant is waiting for help from an adviser) then they can ring the PIP helpline to request extra time.



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 having to wait for an appointment for that, 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 what should happen next -because you should have received a review form. 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 continue in payment until the DLA payday after the date a decision on your PIP claim is made. If you are awarded PIP, you will start to receive payments of PIP from 4 weeks after your next DLA payday.

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?
He should get a letter inviting him to claim PIP - although this might not arrive until shortly after his 16th birthday. As long as he makes the PIP claim by the given deadline, his DLA payments will continue until the PIP re-assessment process has been completed. 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?
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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