What is Personal Independence Payment (PIP)?
PIP is a state benefit that helps people deal with some of the extra costs associated with long-term illness or disability. The benefit isn’t means-tested, so it doesn’t matter if you have a job or another source of income.
It was introduced in 2013 to replace the Disability Living Allowance (DLA). You can find more information about DLA at the end of this article.
There are two parts to PIP. You might be eligible for one or both components depending on your needs and how much you’re affected by your condition. You’ll be assessed to work out what level of help you need.
1. Daily living component
You’ll be assessed on things such as your ability to prepare food and drink, wash, dress, go to the toilet, manage health conditions and make financial decisions.
£60 a week
is the standard rate (2021-22)
£89.60 a week
is the enhanced rate
2. Mobility component
You’ll be assessed on your ability to ‘plan and follow a journey’ and ‘move around’.
£23.70 a week
is the standard rate (2021-22)
£62.55 a week
is the enhanced rate
PIP is usually paid every four weeks, directly into your bank account. You will also receive a £10 Christmas bonus payment. PIP payments are tax-free.
To apply for PIP, you must:
- be aged between 16 years and state pension age
- have an illness or disability that means you need help with personal care or getting around
- have had the condition or disability for three months, and expect it to continue for at least nine months (unless you’re terminally ill with less than six months to live).
If you’re over state pension age and are making a new claim, you must apply for Attendance Allowance instead. But if you’re already claiming PIP when you reach state pension age, you can continue receiving PIP as long as there’s no change in your condition.
To qualify, you usually must have lived in the UK for at least two out of the last three years and be in the country when you claim.
In Northern Ireland, the process is different – you can find more information about PIP eligibility on NI Direct.
Some key PIP facts
- If you’re currently claiming Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and you’ve reached pension age, you should be invited to make a PIP claim.
- If you have mobility problems and you’re approaching state pension age, it’s worth applying for PIP as soon as possible, as this can include an additional payment for mobility problems, which Attendance Allowance does not. You can no longer apply for PIP after you’ve reached state pension age.
- If you have a terminal illness and you’ve been told you are not expected to live for more than six months, you’ll get the enhanced daily living component rate (see ‘PIP rates’ above).
- If you move into a care home and your local authority pays some or all of your fees, the daily living component of PIP or the care component of DLA will stop after 28 days.
How to apply for Personal Independence Payment
To apply, call the PIP new claims phoneline to request an application form: 0800 917 2222 (Mon–Fri, 8am–6pm).
Before you call, you’ll need to have the following information to hand:
- your contact details and date of birth
- National Insurance number
- bank or building society details
- doctor’s or health worker’s name
- details of any time spent abroad or in a care home or hospital.
If someone is caring for you, they can call on your behalf if necessary, but you’ll need to be with them when they call.
After the initial call, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will post you a form called ‘How your condition affects you’, which you or your carer will need to complete and return.
They will next arrange for you to be assessed by an independent health professional at a local PIP assessment centre.
What is the PIP assessment?
The PIP assessment (also known as the PIP test) involves a series of short activities so that health professionals can decide whether you’re entitled to the benefit.
During the assessment, the assessor will ask you questions about how your condition affects your daily life. This conversation will be based on the information that you gave on your claim form. Be prepared to give examples of what you find difficult.
They will also ask you to carry out a number of tasks based on everyday activities and your condition. You’ll be given points for each activity, based on your ability to carry out the task and how much help you need to do it.
The tests are split into two sections – one to assess daily living needs and the other to assess your mobility. You’re awarded points for each activity, based on your ability to carry them out and how much help you need with each.
PIP test scores and weekly payments
To be eligible to receive PIP, you must score at least eight points in either test.
|Test||Score||Rate per week (2021-22)|
|Daily living needs test||8-11 points||£60|
|Daily living needs test||12 points +||£89.60|
|Mobility component||8-11 points||£23.70|
|Mobility component||12 points +||£62.55|
PIP assessment activities
At the assessment you’ll be asked to carry out tasks based on some of the following activities.
For the daily living assessment
- Preparing and cooking food: you’ll be asked to make a simple meal, such as pasta and sauce or an omelette.
- Eating: how well can you cut your food, put food and drink into your mouth, chew and swallow it?
- Washing and bathing: how well can you wash yourself and your hair, and do you need the help of additional aids to do so?
- Managing your treatment: if you’ve been prescribed medication, such as tablets, creams or injections, the assessors will check if you can take or apply these yourself. They will also assess your ability to do any exercises or other activities that you have been advised you to do.
- Going to the toilet: are you able to use the toilet and clean yourself afterwards without any special aids? If you’re incontinent, are you able to manage it yourself?
- Dressing and undressing: how well can you dress yourself, including tasks such as getting socks on and off, and using buttons.
- Speaking and hearing: do you need any special aids to help with your speaking or hearing?
- Socialising: assessors will look at how well you can talk to others, understand their moods and behave appropriately.
- Reading and comprehension: do you need any special help or aids to read and understand written sentences?
- Managing your money: you’ll be assessed on how well you can plan and budget your money.
The mobility tests involve
- Planning and following a journey: this task looks at how well you can find your way to a certain place and whether it causes you any anxiety or stress.
- Moving around: this task assesses how well you can stand and then move a distance of up to 200 metres, and whether you need help to do so.
PIP assessment tips
- Bring your PIP form: you will be asked questions about your condition, so it’s a good idea to take a copy of your claim form with you as a reminder of the information you’ve already supplied.
- Take someone with you: it’s a good idea to bring someone with you for moral support. This can be anyone over the age of 16, such as a relative, friend or carer.
- Take your time: there’s no need to rush, so stop and think about your answer. Try to avoid yes and no answers, and respond as fully as you can, explaining how each task makes you feel afterwards.
- Act normally: don’t try to do things on the assessment day that you wouldn’t normally be able to do – tell the assessor if you don’t feel comfortable doing a certain activity.
- Check the assessment centre is suitable: for example, will there be a lift if you need to go upstairs, or do you need an interpreter? If you have any special requirements, always request these in advance.
- Claim your travel expenses: you (and the person coming with you, if you travel together) can claim back travel expenses after the assessment – ask at the assessment centre for a form, and keep all your tickets and receipts. If you are travelling by taxi, you’ll need to get this approved by the centre before your appointment.
What happens after the assessment?
Following the assessment, the professional you met will write up a report and send it to the DWP. The DWP then makes its decision about your claim based on the results of the assessment and the details on your application form.
There is no set time to receive a decision after the assessment. However, it generally takes around 12 weeks from the date you started your claim, although some claims can take longer.
You’ll be sent a letter stating whether or not you’ll receive PIP and, if so, which components and rates you’re entitled to.
If you disagree with the decision, you can challenge it up to one month after the date of the letter. For more information on how to appeal a benefits decision, see our guide to Benefits for older people.
If you receive PIP, you’re required to go through regular reviews to check your eligibility. These usually take place annually or every few years, although less severe or temporary disabilities can be checked more frequently.
PIP recipients who are over the state pension age will continue to receive the payments indefinitely without further assessments.
What is Disability Living Allowance?
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a monthly, tax-free benefit for disabled people who have care needs or mobility needs. It’s being replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for those over the age of 16.
If you’re looking to make a new claim to help with disability needs, you’ll need to apply for PIP instead. If you are over the state pension age, you may be eligible for Attendance Allowance, instead of PIP.
DLA is split into two different payments, one based on your care needs and the other on your mobility needs. There are different rates for each component.
The weekly DLA rates for 2021-22 are:
- High-rate DLA: £89.60
- Middle-rate DLA: £60
- Low-rate DLA: £23.70
- High-rate DLA: £62.55
- Low-rate DLA: £23.70
Moving from Disability Living Allowance to PIP
If you’re already claiming Disability Living Allowance (DLA), and were over 65 on 8 April 2013 (in England, Wales and Scotland) or over 65 on 20 June 2016 (in Northern Ireland), you’ll continue to receive it. Otherwise, your disability allowance will be moved across to Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
You’ll continue to get DLA until the government writes to tell you when it will end. This will happen 20 weeks before your DLA ends.
You’ll have to apply for PIP – be aware that if you miss the deadline, your pay will be suspended. You’ll then need to claim for PIP within four weeks of the suspension to avoid your DLA being stopped altogether.
If you have any problems with your claim, Citizens Advice can help you.