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This article was published in November 2017. The information may be out of date. Please check our epilepsy information or our site A-Z.

New government changes to PIP assessor guidelines may improve claims process for people with epilepsy

6 Nov 2017

The UK government announced changes to its Personal Independence Payment (PIP) guidance for assessors on 2 November. This change could help more people with epilepsy get
access to this benefit.

The government’s update to the guidance should help assessors better understand how epilepsy affects people’s daily lives.

This move follows criticisms of the current system, calling the PIP assessment process ‘not fit for purpose’. Epilepsy Action has also been campaigning for improvements and urging MPs to fight for a fairer system.

Penny Mordaunt is the minister of state for disabled people, health and work. She said in a statement that the changes reflect the ruling of an Upper Tribunal from March this year.

The tribunal ruled that the law around PIP assessments is not being properly understood. The government changed the assessor guidelines to help tackle this problem.

Ms Mordaunt added: “This will increase entitlement for a number of both new and existing claimants, largely those with conditions such as epilepsy, which affect consciousness. The department estimates approximately 10,000 claims will benefit by £70-£90 [a] week in 2022/2023.

What we know so far

Epilepsy Action is in the process of getting more details from the government about how  these changes will affect people with epilepsy who  receive or have  applied for PIP. At the moment the full impact of these changes are not clear. What we do know (as a result of a Written Question in the House of Commons) so far is:

  • People who are getting some level of PIP will have their claims automatically reviewed according to the updated guidance.
    • The review of these cases began on 20 November 2017 but the government do  not know how long it will take for all relevant cases to be  reviewed.
  • People with epilepsy who were refused PIP on or after 9 March 2017 will have their  claims  automatically  reviewed according to the updated guidance.
    • The review of these cases began on 20 November 2017 but the  government do not know how long it will take for all relevant cases to be reviewed.
  • New PIP claims made on or after 13 November 2017 will be assessed under the  updated  guidance.

People with epilepsy who fall in to one of these groups should wait to hear from the  Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about  a potential increase in their PIP award.

A number of  important details about how these changes will affect people with epilepsy who were refused PIP before 9 March 2017 are still not clear. Epilepsy Action has contacted the government asking for more information. They will update people as soon as they find out more. The charity has said it is not able to advise people about whether they should reapply for PIP until they receive more details from the government about this update.

An important step

PIP is designed to help disabled people with the extra costs of their condition. The government introduced this to replace the Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Last month, DWP data showed that 3 in 5 people with epilepsy who received DLA had their PIP award refused or reduced. The rate of reduced or refused award was higher for epilepsy than for any other condition.

Philip Lee, chief executive of Epilepsy Action, said: “We are delighted to see the government is starting to recognise the complex needs of people with epilepsy.

“Many people with the condition could have a seizure at any time, often without warning. The daily risk to people’s safety needs to be taken into account. We know the current system is not working and is failing people with epilepsy. They are more likely to be refused PIP than those with any other health condition.

“Epilepsy Action is fighting for the PIP system to change. The announcement represents an important step in making sure that people with epilepsy get the support they need to live a safer and more independent life.”

This article was updated on 27 November 2017 with new information


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Comments: read the 1 comments or add yours


I currently receive DLA and have just received the dreaded letter to apply for PIP, I am going to do it but after reading through a lot of posts regarding being turned down for PIP I am getting worried as this money sees myself and my husband through the month, I am 51 and he is a pensioner, I would look for a job, BUT, who would give me one, I am not exactly reliable, when is the next seizure going to come, when is the next day off am I going to have to take off because the fit has made me unfit to work again, and how long would it last... not long I suspect before I get the sack.

Submitted by Tina Whittle
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