How to Claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP for short) Successfully
To be successful at claiming for 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 PIP.” My answer is simply: make sure the claim form is completed properly.
The key with any PIP application is to be honest. 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 questions themselves and understand how to answer them properly.
Answering the PIP Form Questions
The PIP form’s questions revolve around whether you (or the person that needs help) can cope at home by themselves with everyday activities.
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
- 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.
One common problem we encounter with people answering these questions on the PIP 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 PIP, you have to consider how you feel ‘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 PIP Form
The comments box 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, 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 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 application but one piece of advice that will run true through all of it is consistency.
One thing the PIP 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 it, 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 PIP Application
There is no shame in asking for help. In fact, PIP claimants that do ask for help stand a much better chance of success and a much lower chance of rejection.
We assist thousands of PIP 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.
In summary these are our top tips for a successful PIP claim:
- Always be honest.
- Answer describing how you feel ‘most of the time’.
- Add concise, unambiguous comments.
- Aim for consistency with your answers.
- Don’t be afraid to get professional help.