In the last few months, Aspire has been supporting many clients who have been invited to change from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment (PIP).  Much of the media focus, and that of charities supporting disabled people, has been on the potential implications of the welfare reform and the possible negative financial impact of changing from DLA to PIP.

George and his wife requested assistance with the completion of the PIP2 claim form after he received a letter from the DWP advising him that his lifetime award of Disability Living Allowance was ending.  The letter invited George to make a claim for Personal Independence Payment.  George had become Spinal Cord Injured 24 years ago.  Since making his original claim he had not had to complete a claim form again.

During the appointment to complete the form George and his wife became very distressed, having to stop a number of times to compose themselves.  Following the appointment the client said: “I really wasn't prepared for the tsunami of emotion. It has been a long time since we have discussed the issues with anyone and it is as raw today as it always has been.”

At Aspire, we have become increasingly concerned about the emotional effects of the process for claiming PIP, in addition to the financial uncertainty. Some of you have lived with a spinal cord injury for many years and over time have adapted to your situation, without necessarily really thinking about these changes. You might not have thought about how these changes have impacted on your life or the help you need to live independently.  

The PIP form asks 14 questions about how you complete various activities and the help you need.  Considering each question can catapult you back to when you were first injured and the trauma of that time all over again. Not everyone will experience these emotions. However, for those people that do, the whole process can be negative, intrusive and detrimental to your wellbeing.

It is natural to feel all sorts of emotions, such as rage, embarrassment and the thought that no one will believe you or understand you. The good news, however, is that with preparation and support, you and/or your relatives can cope with the process.

While we may not be able support you emotionally or make the process any less upsetting, forewarned is forearmed.  

Below are some tips and thoughts that might help you through this process:

  • Complete the form in bite size pieces; do not think you have to complete the form all at once.
  • If you find the form overwhelming, take a break and remember you can ask Aspire for help.
  • Before your assessment appointment, write down any points that you think are important to mention.

It's not all negative:

  • There could be a positive outcome from completing the claims form. You will have a chance to write and be heard about how your disability affects you.    
  • It could be an opportunity for you to think about your daily living and see if you need additional support.

If you are very upset by the experience you can contact your GP to ask about counselling in your area. Your GP can also refer you to mental health services and tell you about support groups and organisations near to you.

Your Spinal Cord Injury Centre may have a Psychologist or counsellor or nurse to support you, although outpatient services tend to be limited.

Back Up and SIA may be able to help you and your family:

Back Up: http://www.backuptrust.org.uk

SIA: https://www.spinal.co.uk/

These organisations might be able to support you emotionally:

SANE: http://www.sane.org.uk/what_we_do/support/

Relate now offer support for all relationships difficulties, not just couples: https://www.relate.org.uk/

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