How to claim PIP successfully

In this practical guide to a successful PIP claim we share our top tips for filling in the PIP form with help from our benefits expert advisor of 40 years, Paul, so you can claim PIP.

The PIP form is long and it asks a lot of questions. Your answers to those questions are used to create a ‘score’ which is evaluated by the benefits people at the Department for Work and Pensions.

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How to Claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP for short) Successfully

To be successful at claiming Personal Independence Payment (PIP) you need a score of 8 points to qualify for the standard rate of the daily living or mobility component and 12 points or more to qualify for the enhanced rates.

So, to coin a phrase, points mean prizes!

I’ve been helping people with their benefit forms for almost 40 years and people often ask me “how do I make a successful claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).” My answer is simply: make sure the pip form is completed properly. 

The key with any PIP application is to be honest about your condition affects you.  Don’t exaggerate your responses but most importantly you should also not playdown or be afraid to express how you really feel.

So let’s take a look at the PIP form questions themselves and understand how to answer them properly.

filling in the PIP form

Answering the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Form Questions

The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) form’s questions revolve around whether you (or the person that needs help) can cope at home by themselves with everyday activities and how your condition affects you doing those things.

These activities are:

  • Preparing food
  • Eating and drinking
  • Managing therapy or monitoring a health condition
  • Washing and bathing
  • Managing toilet needs or incontinence
  • Dressing and undressing
  • Communicating verbally
  • Reading
  • Engaging with other people
  • Managing money
  • Planning and following journeys
  • Moving around
  • Additional questions (work, pets and driving)

Each section asks a series of questions such as:

  • Can you use a knife and fork to cut food?
  • Can you get food to your mouth without spilling it?
  • Can you dress your upper body?
  • Do you get anxious or distressed in a social setting?

These are just a few examples but each of the questions requires a simple yes or no answer.

Example of preparing a simple meal

One common problem we encounter with people answering these questions on the Personal Independence Payment (pip) claim form is that the answer often isn’t black and white. For example, some days you might be able to dress without any difficulty but other days, your condition might impede this.

When assessing for Personal Independence Payment , you have to consider how your condition affects you ‘the majority of the time’. That is to say, don’t answer the question as if it was your best day and equally don’t answer the question as if it were your worst day. How do you feel the majority of the time?

Staying with the same example, if you are unable to dress without some difficulty four days of the week but three days you are able to dress yourself, then you would be able to answer the question ‘can you dress yourself’ with a clear ‘no’. Four days is the majority of the week.

Try to answer every yes/no question with this clear cut process and always answer truthfully.

However, at the end of each section such as ‘Preparing Food’ there is a freeform text box inviting you to leave comments.

Next, let’s look at how best to use this box.

Leaving Comments in the ‘Anything Else You Would Like to Add’ box on the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Form

The comments box on the pip claim form is an opportunity to describe your condition ‘most of the time’ beyond the constraints of those yes/no questions. Answering ‘Yes’ to the question, ‘Can you prepare a meal?’ might well be true but you may need to use an aid or it might take you a long time and cause considerable discomfort.

So, in the comments box on the claim form, you might add: “4 days a week the pain in my back is so severe I simply cannot tolerate standing to try to prepare a meal”.

In the comments box you need to express yourself concisely and without room for interpretation. If your back hurts, for example, say ‘my back hurts 4 days a week’ but do not say ‘my back hurts sometimes’ or ‘my back hurts often’.

Words such as ‘sometimes’ and ‘often’ are open to interpretation. An assessor at the DWP cannot tell whether ‘sometimes’ or ‘often’ means ‘most of the time’ whereas ‘4 days a week’ is clearly the majority of the week given that there are only 7 days in a week and 4 is over half of the days.

You don’t have to leave comments but you should if it is relevant or the yes/no questions do not adequately explain your situation.

The comments boxes are read and assessed by real people so remember to speak plainly and keep it focussed. The assessor won’t have the time to read lots and lots of text.

Common Myths About Applying for Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Thousands of people apply for PIP in Britain every year and many are rejected. With so many of us filling in these forms a few rumours were bound to start.

When trying for a successful PIP application it’s worth being aware of some common myths about PIP so you don’t get caught in their trap.

Some will have you believe that you must answer the questions ‘as if it is your worst day’ and not, as the advice suggests, ‘how you are the majority of the time’.

Answering all the questions as if it’s your worst day will likely cause you problems with your PIP application. Very few people answer negatively to every single question in the form or find themselves 100% incapable of ‘anything’.

Your assessment form will be reviewed by a real person at the DWP and they are able to infer when someone is answering questions as if it was the worst day they’ve ever had suffering from their condition.

The advice is straight-forward, answer all the questions in a way that describes how you feel most of the time.

Another common myth is the idea that the DWP have a computer system that is able to scan your PIP form for certain words and phrases that might indicate some level of dishonesty - a bit like a lie detector.

Again, this is untrue. The DWP operate on Windows XP, a legacy computer system bought out in 2001! Your application is reviewed by a real person sitting at a desk. There is nothing any more technologically sophisticated than that.

Consistency is Key

We’ve explored a few different ways to be successful with your PIP claim but one piece of advice that will run true through all of it is consistency.

One thing the Personal Independence Payment assessors are good at finding is inconsistency. For example, if you have said on your form that you are dizzy most of the time, would that not therefore affect your ability to stand up and prepare a meal? Or dress and get in and out of the bath?

The vast majority of applicants are honest but even honest people sometimes inadvertently tell slightly inconsistent stories.

The key to avoiding this is to take your time with the application. Once you’ve completed the claim form, let it rest for a day or two and come back to it with fresh eyes for a read through.

Ask yourself, do any of my answers seem inconsistent with each other? If yes, how best could you phrase it so the answers remain accurate and honest without creating inconsistencies?

It is often a really good idea to get a friend or relative to review your application for you. And, of course, there are other ways to get help with your PIP application from benefits experts like us.

Ask For Help With Your Personal Independence Payment Application

There is no shame in asking for help when you want to claim pip. In fact, Personal Independence Payment claimants that do ask for help stand a much better chance of claiming pip and a much lower chance of rejection.

We assist thousands of PIP form applications every year and help ensure a high level of success.

You are well within your rights to ask for professional help with your application. Our benefits advisors help ensure your forms are filled in just right. We help you present your situation honestly and in the right way to help ensure you are awarded the benefits you are entitled to.

We also provide a question and answer service on this website. If you have any questions about PIP, or any other benefit, you can ask us your question about benefits here and one of our team will be happy to help.

Definition of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Form Keywords and Phrases

The PIP form uses specific terms and phrases that are crucial for understanding and accurately completing your application to claim pip. Below, we outline some of these key definitions to help you navigate the form effectively:


Descriptors are the specific criteria used to assess your ability to perform daily living and mobility activities. Each activity has a set of descriptors that describe different levels of difficulty or the need for assistance.

Daily Living Component

This component evaluates your ability to carry out everyday tasks such as preparing food, eating, dressing, and managing personal hygiene. It is divided into two rates: standard and enhanced, depending on the level of support you need.

Mobility Component

This component assesses your ability to move around and make journeys. Like the daily living component, it has two rates: standard and enhanced.

Aid or Appliance

An aid is a device that helps you perform a task more easily (e.g., a walking stick), while an appliance is a device that enables you to carry out a task that you otherwise could not do (e.g., a hoist for transferring in and out of bed).


This term means that you must be able to perform an activity safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly, and within a reasonable time frame. If you cannot do something reliably, you should be scored as if you cannot do it at all.

Majority of the Time

When answering questions, you should consider how you are affected by your condition for the majority of the time. This means more than 50% of the time over a period of at least a year.

Fluctuating Condition

A condition where symptoms vary over time, with periods of better health and periods where symptoms are worse. When describing a fluctuating condition, focus on how you are affected most of the time.

Medical Evidence

Any documentation from healthcare professionals that supports your claim, such as doctor’s letters, medical reports, and prescription lists. Providing medical evidence can strengthen your application.

Formal Observations

These are observations made by healthcare professionals during assessments or consultations, documenting how your condition affects you.

Informal Observations

Observations made by those who know you well, such as family members, friends, or caregivers, detailing how your condition impacts your daily life.


The process where a health professional reviews your form and, if necessary, conducts a face-to-face or phone assessment to determine your eligibility for PIP based on your ability to perform daily living and mobility activities.


Tasks related to daily living and mobility that are evaluated to determine your eligibility for PIP. Examples include preparing food, washing and bathing, and planning and following journeys.

By understanding these key terms and phrases, you can ensure that your responses are accurate and reflective of your actual needs and circumstances. This understanding will aid in creating a comprehensive and truthful representation of your situation, thereby increasing the likelihood of a successful PIP claim.

Why You Need Your National Insurance Number When Applying for PIP

Your National Insurance (NI) number is a crucial piece of information when applying for Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Your National Insurance number serves as a unique identifier that ensures your application is accurately linked to your personal records. It helps the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) verify your identity and prevent any confusion with other individuals who may have similar names or personal details.

How Long It Takes to Get a Decision on a PIP Claim

The time required to receive a decision on a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claim can vary depending on several factors. Here's what you need to know about the timeline and process:

Processing Time

Initial Processing: Once you submit your PIP application, it undergoes an initial processing stage where the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) verifies your details and ensures all necessary information is included. This stage typically takes a few weeks.

Assessment: After initial processing, your application may require a health assessment. The time taken for this step can vary, especially if a face-to-face or phone assessment is necessary. Assessment providers aim to schedule these appointments as soon as possible, but wait times can depend on availability and demand.

Decision Making:Following the assessment, the DWP reviews all the information and evidence provided, including the assessment report. The decision-making process involves carefully evaluating your ability to perform daily living and mobility activities. This step can take several weeks, depending on the complexity of your case and the volume of applications being processed.

Communication and Delays

Notification of Decision: Once a decision is made, the DWP will send you a letter outlining their decision and the points awarded for each activity. This letter also includes information on the payment amount and schedule if your claim is approved.

Potential Delays: While the DWP strives to process claims as quickly as possible, delays can occur due to various reasons, such as high volumes of applications, additional evidence requirements, or scheduling issues for assessments. It's important to remain patient and understand that these delays will not affect the date from which your payments are calculated.

Impact on Payments

Backdated Payments: If there are delays in processing your claim, rest assured that it will not affect your payment date. PIP payments are typically backdated to the date you made your claim, ensuring that you receive the full amount you are entitled to, regardless of any delays experienced during the assessment and decision-making process.

Understanding Mental Health and PIP Applications

Importance of Mental Health in PIP Claims

Mental health conditions are just as significant as physical health issues when it comes to applying for Personal Independence Payment (PIP). The PIP assessment process recognizes the impact of mental health on daily living and mobility, and it's essential to provide detailed information about how your mental health condition affects your life.

Types of Mental Health Conditions Covered

PIP applications can be made for a wide range of mental health conditions, including but not limited to:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Personality Disorders

How Mental Health Affects Daily Living Activities

When applying for PIP, it's important to describe how your mental health condition impacts your ability to perform daily living activities. Key areas to consider include:

Preparing Food

  • Difficulty in planning and preparing meals
  • Anxiety or lack of motivation leading to skipped meals

Eating and Drinking

  • Issues with maintaining a regular eating schedule
  • Emotional distress affecting appetite

Managing Therapy or Monitoring a Health Condition

  • Challenges in remembering to take medication
  • Difficulty attending therapy sessions

Washing and Bathing

  • Lack of motivation or energy to maintain personal hygiene
  • Anxiety or fear related to bathing

Managing Toilet Needs

  • Difficulty in recognising the need to use the toilet
  • Issues with maintaining hygiene due to depression or anxiety

Dressing and Undressing

  • Lack of motivation to dress appropriately
  • Confusion or distress in choosing clothes

Communicating Verbally

  • Difficulty in expressing needs due to anxiety or speech issues
  • Social withdrawal impacting communication


  • Problems concentrating or understanding written text
  • Anxiety affecting the ability to focus

Engaging with Other People

  • Social anxiety or fear of social interactions
  • Difficulty in forming and maintaining relationships

Managing Money

  • Issues with budgeting or understanding financial matters
  • Impulsivity or avoidance behaviours impacting financial decisions

Planning and Following Journeys

  • Anxiety or fear preventing travel
  • Disorientation or confusion when traveling alone

Moving Around

  • Physical symptoms of anxiety impacting mobility
  • Fear of leaving the house

Providing Evidence for Mental Health Conditions

To support your PIP application, gather as much evidence as possible about your mental health condition. Useful documents include:

  • Medical records and letters from your GP or psychiatrist
  • Reports from mental health professionals, such as psychologists or therapists
  • Prescription lists for medication related to your condition
  • Statements from carers, friends, or family members who assist you

Describing Your Condition in the PIP Form

When filling out the PIP form, be specific about how your mental health condition affects your day-to-day life. Avoid vague terms like "sometimes" or "often," and instead use precise descriptions like "four days a week" or "most of the time."


  • "Due to my anxiety, I find it difficult to leave the house more than once a week."
  • "My depression makes it hard to concentrate, so I struggle to read or understand written instructions four days out of seven."

Attending the PIP Assessment

If required to attend a face-to-face or phone assessment, be prepared to discuss your mental health condition in detail. It can be helpful to:

  • Bring a trusted person for support
  • Write down key points you want to convey
  • Explain how your condition fluctuates and impacts you on most days


In summary these are our top tips for a successful PIP claim:

  1. Always be honest.
  2. Answer describing how you feel ‘most of the time’.
  3. Add concise, unambiguous comments.
  4. Aim for consistency with your answers.
  5. Don’t be afraid to get professional help.

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