Claiming Personal Independence Payments (PIP) - autism - case history

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Posted 7th Mar 2017
I thought I would post a brief case study of my application for PIP in case it helps somebody. My son has severe autism & turned 16 two months ago - which meant he had to migrate to PIP from Disability Living Allowance. I was slightly concerned about this application as I had read that the PIP assessors were briefed to be fairly tough and that many applications were refused at first & had to go to appeal (though the majority of people win a more favourable outcome on appeal).

Here is the guide to applying from the National Autistic Society autism.org.uk/pip - pretty useful. I had a month to apply after my son's 16th birthday; if you miss this deadline your DLA gets stopped and you won't get PIP until you apply for it. I had previously been named as my son's authorised agent as he would otherwise be unable to apply in his own right or handle his own finances (simply not capable). The presumption is that a 16YO WILL be able to act for himself, so you get sent a form to elect yourself his/her agent & then the DWP send somebody to your home to meet both you and the one with a disability & assess whether you should indeed be given the right to act on his/her behalf; I guess that happened about October/ November & was a perfectly pleasant/ easy meeting.

So I made the phone call application as per the NAS guide above (Stage 1) and this is nothing to be worried about, just a short phone call confirming the applicant's details, his/her disability & the fact that you wish to claim PIP.

Stage 2: within a couple of weeks I was sent the claim form & you get 1 month to fill it in. My advice here would be to read the points guidance @ NAS ie top right box on autism.org.uk/pip
[PIP: the points-based criteria
Read the full details of the points-based criteria for Personal Independence Payment.
Download now ]

So now your task is to fill in as much relevant evidence as you can honestly use to substantiate your PIP claim. I found this a long & onerous task which took about 8 hours of thinking & writing time. But it was straightforward enough to complete the form. My tips here:
1. name at least 3 relevant people who can substantiate the disability. In our case I used our social worker, GP & the teacher at my son's special school who knows him best.
2. give more information, not less - this is a tick-box exercise to substantiate the claim - your first bit of evidence in a box may be deemed irrelevant so give a few more bits of evidence as well.
3. Provide relevant paperwork. I included the lastest EHC Plan & a letter from our GP confirming the autism diagnosis.

So I sent off the form. The next step is normally a face-to-face assessment but our claim was approved without the need for this after about 4 weeks. I don't know if the assessors contacted any of my 3 people but I guess I will find out in time. My evidence was fairly comprehensive. My son was awarded the same levels for disability & mobility as on his old DLA claim. Rather surprisingly, the claim was only approved for 12 months - a surprise because autism doesn't really improve over time particularly once the person has turned 16. (Our DLA claims were approved for 5 year terms.) So I rang up the DWP to query this and was told that virtually nobody is getting claims approved for longer than 1 or 2 years - rather unwelcome news given the time involved, not just for the autism that will be exactly the same in 12 months' time but I feel sorry for people with (say) amputated limbs or other incurable conditions. Anyway, at least it wasn't just us! So now it's a simple matter of making more copies of the claim for eg to Cloud so that the same work next year will take 25% of the time - 2 hour scanning job coming up later!

Hope it helps somebody who might be worried about the PIP claim process - it's not too awful but is IS quite time-consuming.
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