You have probably heard that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are proposing major changes to Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Understandably, this may have caused you to worry about what this means for you.  So, what are the proposed changes?

1.    Changing eligibility criteria

Currently, to qualify for PIP, you need to have care and/or mobility needs for the past three months and will have for at least nine months going forward. The needs are assessed based on the difficulty you have with certain activities – such a preparing a meal, managing medication, manging bladder and bowel routines and mobilising. When assessing these the use of aids and adaptations is used as an indicator as to how difficult life can be for the person claiming.  The DWP have proposed changes to both this criteria – most likely increasing the length of the qualifying period – and raising the level of needs at which a PIP award if made.
2.    Assessment criteria

Currently claimants with a terminal illness can qualify for PIP daily living care without the need for questions and assessments, and their claims are prioritised. Others have to complete lengthy forms and go through assessments. The proposition is to allow some people with ‘severe’ conditions to qualify for PIP just on the basis of a medical diagnosis, without the need for a full assessment.
3.    Payment method

Probably the most controversial proposal is to replace ongoing cash payments with one-off payments or vouchers.  The aim being to help people with significant costs, such as home adaptations or expensive equipment, as well as giving vouchers to contribute towards specific costs, or reimbursing claimants who provide receipts for purchases of aids, appliances or services. The DWP also say, ‘Some people receiving PIP who have lower, or no extra costs, may have better outcomes from improved access to treatment and support than from a cash payment.’

For most people with a spinal cord injury the first two proposals are unlikely to have any major impact on entitlement. The third proposal is controversial and, understandably, one that many of you may be worried about.

Hari Shah, Aspire’s Welfare Benefits Manager says,

Before any changes can be implemented there needs to be a consultation with the public, charities, social services, the NHS and others and the details need to be fully explained. The DWP has historically battled with managing changes and backlogs of work, and the practicalities involved with implementing proposals mean many fall by the wayside. Whilst this is not certain, it is unlikely the radical changes will happen any time soon, if at all.

If you do have any concerns about your welfare benefits, contact our Welfare Benefits Service and speak to one of our trained Advisors.

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