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Moving From Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment

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In December of last year I received the letter I had been expecting and dreading, inviting me to apply for Personal Independence Payment. Like many, I had seen news stories about disabled people in the U.K. losing Disability Living Allowances and having cars essential to their mobility taken away.

On reading the letter I immediately made the initial phone call to start my claim. This was a simple call, just giving my name, national insurance number and basic information about my heath. At the end of the phone call I was told the form will be posted and if I didn’t receive it by the second week in January, I was to phone them. So I enjoyed Christmas and New Year’s, and on January 2 I received a text message informing me they hadn’t received the form. Quite how you return something you haven’t received, I don’t know!

I phoned them straight away to tell them I hadn’t received the form. A few days later, the original form arrived followed by the replacement. I made a quick call to clarify the date on which the form was required to be returned. There was some confusion that I’d already had extra time, but I pointed out that without the form I couldn’t start the process.

When the form arrived I made an appointment with the Citizens Advice Bureau to complete it. Although I have the ability to complete forms, I think it’s helpful to have a independent person to help with the wording. I do have a supportive family, but it can sometimes be difficult with all the things you need help with. The appointment took about three hours, but I felt I’d done a good job and waited to hear back.

I waited to hear back, and on February 17 I received a letter to go for a face-to-face assessment. This was not a surprise as many of my friends had had a face-to-face assessment, but as I read the letter the location of the face to face assessment was Birmingham. Birmingham is an hour’s drive away and the appointment time would mean I would be traveling back during rush hour. I rang the number on the letter and was offered a home visit.

The day of the home visit came. I had arranged for my dad to come home to be with me. The assessor arrived about two hours late, but the assessment itself appeared to go well. I felt reassured, although the person who visits and writes the report doesn’t make the decision.

On April 3 I returned home from the Easter break to find the letter I had been waiting for on the doormat.  I opened it feeling rather nervous at what I might be about to read, but to my relief I’d been awarded Personal Independence Payment equivalent to what I had been receiving on Disability Living Allowence.

Based on my experience I have the following advice to anyone moving from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment:

Get help completing the form.

I feel I have a good understanding of my disability and the help I require. Even so, having someone to discuss it with means you are less likely to forget anything.

Contact health professionals who care for you.

On the Personal Independence Payment claim form there is a section that asks about medical professionals who are currently caring for you. I contacted my health professionals to discuss my health and the difficulties I am currently having.

Make a copy of the form before sending it.

I keep a copy of the form for a number of reasons. If you have a face-to-face assessment, you can have it in front of you to know exactly what you put on the form. And if you are reassessed, you have the form from last time to work from.

Request a home visit.

You may be told you need to travel some distance to attend your face-to-face assessment. The center I was asked to attend was an hour away from my home, and I would have been traveling through rush hour. I have also heard of assessment centers that are not wheelchair accessible. If traveling to your appointment could aggravate your physical or emotional difficulties, I would strongly advise you to request a home visit.

This is not the time to be positive.

Like many people with a disability or health condition I like to focus on the positives, what I am able to do and how I manage to complete day-to-day tasks. This form is about what you cannot do, the things you struggle with and the things you need help with. The form asks about doing tasks safely, repeatedly, to an acceptable standard and as often as required. So think carefully about all of the criteria; if you struggle to do something, if takes you three times as long to complete and you need to rest after, you need to say so.

Getty image by Smolaw11.

Originally published: September 8, 2018
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