An online petition calling for people with certain medical conditions to be exempt from attending a health assessment for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) has received an official response from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) after it received 26,800 signatures of support. Although the DWP has said video and face-to-face assessments are necessary to assess most PIP claims, it is testing a new procedure for people with “severe disabilities” which will hopefully make the application process easier.
Almost three million in the UK currently receive PIP support to help them meet extra costs associated with a long-term health condition or disability.
Many more could claim but some are put off by complicated forms and the fact that they are often required to take part in a video or face-to-face assessment.
Thousands of people up and down the country have signed an online petition calling on the Government to make the process easier.
The petition, created by Ray Vanderahe, said PIP assessments should be based “solely on evidence from medical professionals, such as a letter from a GP or consultant”.
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It also states: “We are concerned about how the disabled, with conditions such as inflammatory arthritis, heart disease, lung disease, respiratory diseases, poor mental health etc, are treated by the benefits system.”
In response, the DWP said assessments are necessary to ensure people are getting the right amount of support but it is looking into making life easier where it can.
The DWP response to the petition said: “The Government has no plans to assess eligibility for all disability benefit applications based on medical evidence alone.
“DWP uses assessments to help determine entitlement for a number of benefits, including Personal Independence Payment (PIP); Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB); Employment and Support Allowance (ESA); and, for those claiming due to a disability or health condition that affects their capability for work, Universal Credit (UC).”
Last year, the DWP published its Shaping Future Support: The Health and Disability Green Paper which looked into how the welfare system can better meet the needs of people with health conditions and disabilities.
It is still looking into how it can improve the system to help disability claimants live independently and will publish a White Paper next year.
The DWP added: “These benefits were designed for specific purposes, be that support with additional costs associated with long-term ill-health or disability; compensation following a work-related accident or illness; or income replacement.”
However, there could be a glimmer of hope for people who are classed as seriously disabled as the DWP said it is testing a simplified process where they may not need to go through an assessment.
The statement continued: “Each benefit has its own assessment criteria, to ensure that those who meet the entitlement conditions get the support they are entitled to.
“Looking ahead, we want to test a new Severe Disability Group so that some people can benefit from a simplified process without needing to complete a detailed application form or go through an assessment.
“We will work directly with disabled people and people with health conditions to develop and test the approach. This will ensure that it delivers the desired improvements.
“We will consider the test results alongside the responses to the Green Paper when determining whether the policy should be rolled out further.”
PIP claimants could get 10 freebies from the DWP including:
- Free prescriptions (depending on illness)
- Free or reduced council tax bills
- Capped water bills
- Reduced price bus or rail fares
- Motability scheme
- £140 Warm Home Discount Scheme
- Cold Weather Payments
- Blue badge in England and Wales
- Vehicle tax discount of up to 100 percent
- Disabled Facilities Grant (up to £30,000).