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22/09/2021

PIP Assessment process explained - government department issues advice to claimants in Derry

concerns-over-humiliation-of-people-in-derry-by-assessors-with-no-medical-training-for-new-personal-independence-payments-pip (1)
PIP Assessment process explained By John McKervill, Director of Pensions, Disability & Benefit Security, Department for Communities Personal Independence Payment (PIP) was introduced in Northern Ireland in June 2016. It replaces Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for people of working age (16 - state pension age) and helps towards some of the extra costs arising from a long term health condition or disability. In this article the Department for Communities (DfC), which is responsible for the benefits system here, explains what this change means for claimants and how the PIP decision is made. The Department has appointed Capita to provide support with the assessment process. So far over 100,000 people have been assessed for PIP in Northern Ireland. Completing the questionnaire When applying for PIP, you complete a questionnaire about how your disability or condition affects you. It is important that you provide as much information as possible about its impact, the difficulties you face and the help you need. People can ask for assistance from a trusted source such as DfC’s Community Outreach Officers, their family, public representative or advice organisation if they need help to fill it in. We also encourage people to send copies of any information they already have about their circumstances, such as care plans or medical reports. The more evidence provided the more information we have to go on. Once returned to DfC, the questionnaire is passed to Disability Assessors to provide an assessment report to the Department. Sometimes the information provided on the questionnaire is sufficient, but in most cases customers will be asked to meet a Disability Assessor for a face-to-face assessment. This can take place either at one of the nine assessment centres located across Northern Ireland or in the customer’s own home if more appropriate. The assessment process is an opportunity to tell us as much as possible about your circumstances. You can bring someone along for support and they can take part in the discussion too. What does an assessment mean? You will meet a Disability Assessor, who will be a qualified medical professional and fully trained in carrying out PIP assessments. Only what is discussed during the assessment meeting will be recorded in the report. As PIP is assessed on your ability to carry out everyday tasks, the assessment questions are standard, whatever the disability or condition. This is because the assessment is not about diagnosing a medical condition or its severity. It is about understanding the effect the condition has on day to day living and what extra help you may need. The questions asked cover 12 areas around daily activities such as the ability to prepare food; managing treatment for the health condition(s); moving around; and communicating. The answers to some of these questions may be more relevant to some customers than others. Some people may feel the question does not apply to their circumstances or condition. However, it is important they are all asked and answered as fully as you can so that the report is as complete as possible. The Disability Assessor, who is appointed by Capita, will make notes and produce a detailed report which is then sent to the Department to consider. DfC and Capita have checks in place to ensure reports are of a high quality. Decision on entitlement & what next The Department reviews all the available evidence including the information on the questionnaire and the assessment report. Based on this evidence the Department will then make an award decision. If you don’t agree with the Department’s decision you can ask for it to be reviewed. This is also an opportunity to provide any additional information you may not have mentioned first time. If you feel the outcome of this review is still unsatisfactory, you can then request an appeal. This appeal will be heard by a Tribunal which is completely independent of the Department. We also have a complaints process if you have any concerns about how your assessment meeting was handled. If any customers moving from DLA are financially worse off after being assessed for PIP, you will be paid a financial amount for up to one year afterwards to give you time to adjust to the change. For further information, including an information booklet on filling in the questionnaire, visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/personal-independence-payment

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