My experience applying for PIP
Mark told us about his experience of switching from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment.
I felt angry and confused. I wasn’t really sure what they were trying to achieve.
Hi, I’m Mark, and I live in beautiful Somerset. I had a difficult time at school, like too many others with a learning disability. When I left, I worked in a local plastics factory for almost 20 years to pay the bills and bring up my family.
I am now able to live my dream as a full-time artist which is where my passion lies. I want to share my story to give others hope!
Last year everything was changing for me with the switch from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment (PIP). PIP is supposed to cover the everyday additional costs that come with having a disability.
As part of the switch, I had a phone call and was called for assessment. My brother came with me thankfully, as the assessment lasted about 45 minutes.
The questions seemed to me like they had nothing to do with my learning disability. I was asked to complete a set of sums, and bizarre behaviours such as folding an envelope which didn’t really make any sense to me.
They seemed to be missing the point! That money gave me a sense of security and order and helped me live my life.
I failed my assessment and all my benefits were stopped straight away, without warning.
Angry and confused
I felt angry and confused. I wasn’t really sure what they were trying to achieve. Stopping my support was cruel. I really struggled to cope which led to lots of problems for me and really put my artwork back.
No one explained anything to me, the cost of every-day living was too much for me to cope with alone.
After a lot of support and an overwhelming amount of paperwork I overturned their decision! I now have the financial support I need to live my life and thrive! I even do a bit of peer mentoring now.
To anyone going through the assessment procedure, I would say try and find someone who can support you through it and ideally someone who knows the system. Citizens Advice were really helpful for me. You have to fight all the way!
Not fit for purpose
There is mounting evidence that the administration and assessment of PIP is currently not fit for purpose.
At Leonard Cheshire, we are calling for the government to commission an independent review into how evidence is gathered when people make PIP claims.
We also want to see disabled people being provided with clear and comprehensive guidance from the government on what evidence is needed to submit a claim. It is also important that disabled people who are appealing their decision have better support through what can be a very daunting process.
For help and support with Personal Independence Payments you may find the below links and freephone numbers useful:
Disability Rights UK Personal Budgets Freephone Helpline: 0330 995 0404