Epilepsy Action has attended a meeting with Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment providers Capita, for an update on their work to improve the way they carry out assessments and reach decisions.
Capita, one of the independent companies working with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to carry out PIP assessments, is pushing for a quicker and easier approach to facilitate the process to assess PIP.
Currently, people can have an assessment in 3 different ways: through a telephone call, by video, or in a face-to-face appointment. Capita told us that claimants should now have more of a say in which of the three assessments they would prefer and said that people who would like to change the type of assessment they have been offered can contact them to do so.
In addition, if enough evidence has been submitted, assessors can make a decision without carrying out an assessment. These paper-based reviews are being used more often, which takes away some of the stress that face-to-face, video or telephone appointments can sometimes cause.
We asked Capita what information and evidence people would need to provide to get a paper-based review, and they said they would consider things such as carers’ diaries, repeat prescriptions lists, healthcare or treatment plans, hospital discharge letters, and any sort of paper-form evidence related to your condition. As much detail as possible will help providers develop a great understanding of individual cases. Applicants are discouraged from paying for further evidence though, as the assessors will get in touch with your GP and other relevant people, if needed.
It is recommended that applicants should list these relevant people in order of how often they see you and understand your condition – they do not necessarily need to be healthcare professionals. Other evidence that may be taken into account could include a seizure diary, or any type of document that reflects the frequency of seizures, the symptoms related to them (how long they last, status afterwards) and any related risks, including possible incidents, hospital admissions and injuries.
To assess eligibility for PIP, providers use the STAR criteria – that is, Safety, Timely, Acceptable level, Reliably and Repeatedly. Essentially, they want to understand to what extent applicants can complete 12 daily activities, such as preparing food or travelling. Applicants may be able to complete each one of these activities, but may struggle doing so, or may feel tired or anxious after that.
This is why it is encouraged to be as honest as possible. The PIP assessment is not a diagnosis, it is about how well applicants function in their daily lives, though it can be hard to admit when and how much help they need. Some people may have developed strategies to adapt to difficulties or find that they’ve gotten used to the symptoms related to their epilepsy; for this reason, having the perspective of someone close to you can sometimes be beneficial.
Capita also provided the following updates:
- Those who apply for PIP can check their postcode to see which providers will look after their case and contact them for a specific type of assessment they think may be more suitable for their situation.
- Capita is also working to shrink the timing to complete a single case: from the current average time of 37 days, they aim to reach 35 days for 2023. This is good news for people applying for PIP, as waiting for a response can often be a great source of anxiety and stress.
At Epilepsy Action, we often hear from people with epilepsy struggling to claim PIP, as the assessment often does not consider the impact that epilepsy can have on everyday life. Epilepsy Action recognises the issues faced by people with epilepsy when applying for benefits and is pushing the government to ease the process of assessment.
For more information about which benefits you may be eligible to claim, please visit our webpage.