Essential PIP review tips for people coming to the end of their award period
PIP awards can be given for anywhere between three months to 10 years, however, the DWP has the right to review that award notice at any period. Typically though, if it’s for a fixed number of years, you will be sent this review form to complete up to a year before your current award ends.
Your original award letter may tell you the likely review date. This is an example from a DWP letter for a 10-year award, also referred to as a 'light touch' review: “We give you PIP for a set time, but we know people’s lives can change."
It continues: "When lives change it may become easier to do everyday things. Sometimes it can become harder for people with a health condition or disability to do everyday things.
"We will also contact you while you’re getting PIP to see if your needs have changed and to look at the amount you get.”
What happens at a PIP review?
The DWP will send out a form which is shorter than the ‘How your disability affects you' (PIP2) form for reviews of existing awards, this form is currently called the PIP Award Review form or the AR1 form.
Even if you have an ongoing award, you may be sent a review form to complete.
It’s important to understand that your award can be changed or ended depending on the information you give.
Returning the review form
The typical timeline for returning the form will be one month after the date the DWP send it out, this will be clearly stated on the letter that is included with the review form.
This means you need to post it earlier than the deadline on the form, to ensure there is plenty of time for it to arrive before the deadline date.
And because it may have taken a few days to arrive and you have to allow time to return it, this means you may have less than one month to complete the form itself - so don’t delay filling it in.
If you don’t return your form before the deadline, your PIP may be ended even though it might be years before your award was due to finish.
If you are not going to be able to meet the deadline, especially if you need someone else to complete the form for you, you will need to call the DWP on the phone number on the front page of the letter and ask for an extension as soon as possible.
If you are granted an extension, make sure you make a note of the date and time of the call and the name of the person you spoke with as well as the new deadline, which will usually be an additional two weeks.
A freepost envelope is included with the form, meaning that you can return it without needing a stamp, however, you may prefer to send the form by recorded delivery or get proof of postage – especially if you are sending it close to the deadline date.
Whatever you do, try to scan or photocopy the form before sending it so that you have a copy form your records. You could also take pictures of each page with your mobile phone or tablet.
What happens after you return the form?
The Award Review form goes to a DWP case manager (decision maker) initially, rather than a health professional.
DWP guidance states that the case manager will “compare the new information against the evidence from the previous assessment”. The case manager can also contact you or your carer for more information, but cannot send for more medical evidence.
If the case manager cannot make a decision, then all the information is forwarded to Independent Assessment Services or Capita for assessment by a health professional.
According to the DWP the health professional will have access to the Award Review form, any additional evidence obtained by the case manager and “all relevant medical evidence”.
What is not clear is whether the most recent PIP 2 ‘How your disability affects you’ form will be consulted by the health professional.
The health professional will initially attempt to make their assessment solely on the papers. Only if that isn’t possible will you be required to attend a face-to-face, telephone or video call assessment.
A decision will then be made by a case manager in the normal way.
What to be aware of
When you complete the PIP Award Review form, it’s important to remember that you are trying to convince a DWP case manager, not a health professional, that your evidence is sufficiently accurate and detailed for a decision to be made.
The purpose of the PIP Award Review form is to speed up the renewal process and potentially cut DWP costs by not involving Independent Assessment Services or Capita. So, good supporting evidence, especially medical evidence, may make a big difference.
This is likely to apply whether you are stating that your condition remains the same or that it has deteriorated.
Completing the form
As with the standard PIP claim form, it’s worthwhile using additional sheets if you can’t fit everything you want to say in the boxes on the form. Make sure you include your name and National Insurance number on the top of every additional sheet you use and attach them to the back of the form.
Consent and declaration
The first section of the review form asks you to sign to say that the information you are giving in the review form is correct and complete and that you will inform the DWP of any future change of circumstances.
In Section 2, the form asks for details of the main medical professional involved in your care and asks you to consent to allowing the DWP, Independent Assessment Services or Capita to contact them for information.
Remember, the DWP case manager is not allowed to send for additional medical evidence when they receive your form and providing medical evidence yourself means that it will be seen at the very start of the review process.
You also have to provide information on your health conditions, medication, and details of any treatment, therapy, surgery and hospital admissions that have happened since the date your previous PIP claim was looked at by the DWP.
What has changed for you
The form now takes you through each of the daily living activities covered in your original PIP claim, from Preparing Food and Eating and Drinking through to Mixing with Other People and Making Decisions About Money.
It also covers the two mobility activities, Planning and Following a Journey and Moving Around.
For each of these activities you are asked the following questions about any changes since your claim was last looked at by DWP:
- Tell us if something has changed and approximately when
- Tell us how you manage this activity now, including the use of any aids you use
- Tell us about any changes to help you need or the help you get from another person
- Tell DWP if something has changed and approximately when
- The activity may have got easier because you have new aids or adaptations, you have more effective medication, you have learnt how to manage things better or simply because your condition has improved over time
- The activity may have got harder because your condition has deteriorated or because you have developed a new condition
Or things may not have changed at all since you made your last claim for PIP.
If there has been no change in how hard or easy you find an activity then you should still give detailed information about the difficulties you have with each activity in the same way that you did in the PIP2 ‘How your disability affects you’ form.
Benefits and Work, an independent benefits forum, which offers advice and guidance to disability benefit claimants said: “We’ve certainly heard from claimants who have stated ‘no change’ and had their PIP award renewed at the same rate.
“However, we have also heard from people who have stated ‘no change’ throughout and were still called for a face-to-face assessment. At that assessment the health professional may, or may not, have a copy of your award review form or of your most recent PIP2 ‘How your disability affects you’ form.
“So, there is a real risk that if you just state ‘no change’ you could end up at an assessment where the health professional has very little information about how your condition affects you. You will then be entirely reliant on their skill at asking the right questions and recording your evidence accurately.”
To give a clear picture of how your conditions continue to affect you, for example, you could begin by stating: “Because of my lack of sight I continue to have problems preparing and cooking food” or “Because of arthritis in my hands I still have great difficulty gripping things.”
Then go on to describe the problems you have with preparing food in the same way as you described in the ‘How your disability affects you’ form.
If your condition hasn’t changed and you still have your previous PIP2 claim form, there is no reason why you shouldn’t use this as the basis for your answers, but do try to give up-to-date examples wherever possible.
Although this will make the form filling a bit more time consuming than simply stating ‘no change’, Benefits and Work explain that “it means that even if the decision goes against you, if you have to go to an appeal tribunal you will be able to show that you gave consistent evidence at every stage of your claim.”
When you return the form you should also send supporting information to show how your health condition or disability affects your day to day life.
You should include copies of any of the following documents:
- A list of your prescriptions
- A copy of your care plan, if you have one
- Any paperwork you’ve been given by health professionals, including reports and letters (not appointment letters)
It’s also a good idea to attach any documents to the form so they don’t get separated.
You should not send:
- Original documents
- Appointment letters
- Copies of anything you’ve already sent to the DWP
If you need help completing the form, Citizens Advice have a dedicated section on their website and advisers who ma be able to offer additional support - find out more here.
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