Millions of people have turned to the social security system for help during the coronavirus pandemic.
Those who are on low incomes, out of work or unable to work may qualify for Universal Credit.
And if you have a disability or health condition, PIP (Personal Independence Payment) could also be available.
But under what circumstances is PIP paid?
Many have been asking if it covers conditions such as arthritis, which typically gets worse during the cold, damp weather of winter.
How to check eligibility for PIP
You can get PIP whether you’re working or not.
Claimants must be aged 16 or over and under State Pension age to claim.
You must also have a health condition or disability where you:
- have had difficulties with daily living or getting around (or both) for three months
- expect these difficulties to continue for at least nine months
So how they do define disability?
Under the Equality Act 2010, a disability is a “physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.”
In the definition, substantial means more than minor or trivial, such as taking much longer than normal to complete a daily task like getting dressed.
Long term means 12 months or more, such as a breathing condition that develops as a result of a lung infection.
What about arthritis?
There are special rules about recurring or fluctuating conditions such as arthritis.
The Equality Act states that “if an impairment has had a substantial adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities but that effect ceases, it is treated as continuing if it is likely to recur.”
Conditions that come back only sporadically or for short periods can still qualify as long-term impairments.
For instance, a person with rheumatoid arthritis can find that symptoms ease off and go into remission but if the pain and inflammation is likely to come back, the condition is treated as ongoing.
If the effects are likely to return beyond 12 months after the first occurrence, they are treated as long-term.
Other impairments with effects which can recur beyond 12 months, or where effects can be sporadic, include Menières Disease and epilepsy as well as mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder, and certain types of depression, the Act states.
So how is this taken into account for PIP?
Assessments are carried out when you apply for Personal Independence Payment and they look at the effect of your health problems to decide what level of payment you will get.
It’s the impact of your problems on your life that’s taken into account rather than the condition itself.
So you may get the daily living part of PIP if you need help more than half of the time with things like:
- preparing or eating food
- washing, bathing and using the toilet
- dressing and undressing
- reading and communicating
- managing your medicines or treatments
- making decisions about money
- engaging with other people
In addition, you may be eligible for the mobility part of PIP if you need help going out or moving around.
How is the level of PIP decided?
You will get a set amount of points ranging from 0-12 points for each activity listed above.
The total number of points you get will decide whether you are entitled to PIP, and how much money you will receive.
To get the standard rate daily living component, you need to score 8 to 11 points in total. You need 12 points to get the enhanced rate.
To get the standard rate mobility component, you need to score 8 to 11 points in total. You need 12 points to get the enhanced rate.
You can take an anonymous self-test online at independent website Benefits and Work to see how many points you would be awarded for each response.
Listed below are the new PIP rates from April 1, 2020. PIP was not hit by the benefit freeze but received an annual rise along with other social security schemes.
Daily living component
Enhanced – £89.15 (per week)
Standard – £59.70 (per week)
Enhanced – £62.25 (per week)
Standard – £23.60 (per week)
PIP is paid every four weeks, so those amounts can be quadrupled to work out how much your payments would be. For instance, you could receive £605 a month if you qualify for both enhanced amounts.
How to claim PIP
You can make a claim on 0800 917 2222.
Before you call, you’ll need:
- your contact details, for example telephone number
- your date of birth
- your National Insurance number – this is on letters about tax, pensions and benefits
- your bank or building society account number and sort code
- your doctor or health worker’s name, address and telephone number
- dates and addresses for any time you’ve spent abroad, in a care home or hospital
Someone else can call on your behalf, but you will need to be with them while they are on the phone.
After the call, you are sent a form to fill in. The DWP says you have 28 days to return it.
If more information is needed, an independent health professional will send you a letter to invite you to an assessment.
Because of the restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic, assessments are currently being done over the phone. You will be asked questions about your ability to carry out activities and how your condition affects your daily life.
After that, you can expect to get a letter to tell you if will get PIP. If you are going to receive it, you will be told how much, when it’s paid and the date it will be reviewed.