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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 3 comments or add yours


Every time we are seeing information about PIP for Epilepsy sufferers. What about the people claiming Employment and Support Allowance?

Submitted by Bill Hasan on

I thought they were looking into all claims? I made mine a while back (definitely before March 2017) and was turned down. Is it worth reapplying or not?

Submitted by Rebecca Cairns on

Hi Rebecca 

Thank you for your question. There are still a lot of questions around this, which we are try to get answers for.

To our understanding if your PIP claim was not successful before this date, you will not have your case reviewed. We are challenging this as we think this is wrong and we think all existing and unsuccessful claimants should be reviewed.

We don’t know if you should reapply or not. We will continue to update people on our website, social media and in our magazine Epilepsy Today when new information comes through.

In the meantime, you may wish to talk to Citizens Advice about whether to reapply for your PIP



Epilepsy Action Helpline Team

Submitted by rich on

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Take a look at forum4e our online community for people with epilepsy. Anyone with epilepsy over the age of 16 can join, from anywhere in the world.

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