Completing the PIP claim form part 1 - 'A meal in itself'
In a series of three blogs, I hope to give advice on completing ‘PIP2’, the new Personal Independence Payment claim form. This should be of particular use to people having to make a new claim now or in the near future.
This first blog looks at the preparation needed to complete the form, the opening questions about medical conditions and treatments, the layout of the main body of the form, and gathering evidence. The information given applies specifically to people with sight impairment, and doesn’t cover other disabilities.
To start a claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) you first need to register by telephoning free phone 0800 917 2222. This initial process takes about half an hour, after which most claimants are sent the PIP2 form to fill in.
It is a good idea to keep a daily diary before you get PIP2 of all the help you need from another person with seeing. Keep it for about a week. Every time that you have to ask for help with something because of your sight loss, write it down. This may make it easier for you to identify the help that you need, which is not always obvious until you think about it.
Once you get the form, you will be given a month from the date that the form is sent to complete and return it. Begin filling it in as soon as you get it, so that you can really think about each question. What you say and how you say it will make a big difference to the outcome, so take your time.
The form asks about your disabilities and the help that you need to live independently and get around. It has fifteen questions. At the start of each section is information on how to complete it. It is important to read this so that you have an idea of what to say.
Fish course - Questions 1 and 2
The form begins by fishing for details of your disabilities, treatment and contacts.
The first question is about the best persons to be asked for more information if needed. You could put your doctor if you see them quite often and they have a good knowledge of how your sight loss affects you. You could put your ophthalmic consultant if you have seen them recently (ie. within the last 12 months or so). You could put your social services rehabilitation officer or a professional carer if they would have more knowledge of how your sight loss affects your everyday living.
The second question asks about your disabilities, medication and treatment.
Main course – Questions 3 to 15
Now we get to the meaty or nut clustery part.
The next questions ask about your need for help to prepare and cook food, eat and drink, manage treatments, wash and bathe, toilet, dress, speak and hear, read, mix socially, manage money, get around outdoors and physically move around. The final question gives you space to explain anything that you could not fit in the explanation boxes to the questions.
In each section there are two or three starter questions named a, b, or c. You answer by ticking a box. These are partly intended to sift out those who cannot do the activity without help. It is advisable on most questions to answer yes or no. However, if your sight is good on some days, and if on those days you can do the activity safely without the help of another person in a reasonable amount of time, you will need to put ‘sometimes’. You can go on to explain how many days are usually good and how many bad in the extra information box which follows.
The next two blogs in this series will explore in more detail how the questions in these sections may be answered.
The sweet course (Pudding in Lancashire)
The proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say. It’s fine writing down the help that you need, but the assessor and decision maker will want you to prove it.
It will greatly help your chances of a fair award if you can provide evidence to support your claim. This could be a copy of your Certificate of Visual Impairment (formally BD8). If your eye condition hasn’t altered much since it was issued this may be enough. If it has, or if you can’t find it, you should try to get up to date eye test results from your consultant if you still see them, from your GP if held, or from an optometrist. It is best to get this evidence before you apply. If time doesn’t allow, at least begin to arrange for it whilst waiting for the PIP2 form to arrive, and if you can’t send it with the form let the PIP office know it will follow.
Clearing the table
Finally, keep a copy of the form and any evidence used. You can use your copies to explain your situation to the assessor. If you later need to dispute the PIP award, having copies at hand will help you to argue your case.