What's the issue?
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a benefit which helps with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill health or disability. To be awarded PIP you must live in England, Scotland or Wales. You must also go through an assessment process. This can include filling out a form, submitting further evidence and having a face to face assessment. If you are not awarded PIP you can ask for the decision to be reconsidered (mandatory reconsideration). If you are still unhappy with the outcome, you can appeal the decision.
On 23 February 2017, the government announced plans to change eligibility rules for PIP. These changes could see people with epilepsy, denied access to financial support. This support can help people with the extra cost of living with a disability. The rules will be tighter for people who need support or supervision with their medication or monitoring their health condition. This is despite an Upper Tribunal which ruled that the descriptors should be widened. Each descriptor carries a number of points. The descriptor helps the assessor decide what someone is capable of while carrying out daily activities.
The assessment process is already not effective at capturing and reflecting the nature of epilepsy. Epilepsy Action believes that it does not assess the impact epilepsy has on an individual’s daily life. This means that people are not awarded the correct level of PIP, or may not be awarded PIP at all. The proposed changes will mean even more people with epilepsy face the possibility of life without this financial support.
Epilepsy Action wants the government to urgently and review and assess the whole PIP assessment process.
What we are doing
The government enforced these changes from 16 March. We have been sharing our concerns with MPs and peers, who signed an Early Day Motion that asked for a debate to raise the issue in parliament.
We wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister, stating the potential impact of these proposals for people with epilepsy and asking her to reconsider changing the rules for PIP.
View the letter here: Open Letter
We spoke to the media, sharing stories and concerns to make sure the issue doesn’t go away and that people continue to talk about it.
We spoke to people with epilepsy and epilepsy specialist nurses about their experiences. We will continue to use these to illustrate why we want to see changes to the assessment process and the impact PIP has on individual lives. We submitted a response to the 2nd Gray Review of the PIP assessment which includes our recommendations to improve the process for people with epilepsy. The findings of the review have now been published.
How you can be involved
You can email or tweet your MP. Share your experiences and tell them how Personal Independence Payments, or the lack of, affects your daily life. You can find your MP on twitter at tweetyourmp.com.
Get involved on social media using the hashtag #PIP or #PIPchanges to keep attention on the issue.
We want to hear your experience of PIP and the assessment process. What difference does it make to your life if you’ve been awarded PIP? What is the impact if you haven’t? By collecting people’s experiences and providing real examples we can highlight areas that need improvement. We can show why the assessment process needs to be reviewed and why the governments planned changes shouldn’t go ahead. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We have help and guidance on PIP and other benefits on our website or call the Epilepsy Action Helpline on Freephone 0808 800 5050.