FAQ: changes to Personal Independence Payments

On February 23rd 2017, the Government announced that they want to change the way Personal Independence Payments (PIP) are awarded in the future.

Recently the courts ruled that people who find it difficult to leave the house because of psychological distress should be able to receive the higher rate of PIP. But now the Government wants to change the law so that they don’t have to follow the court’s ruling.

We’re working hard to try to stop these changes going through. If you want to, you can help us by taking action and asking your MP to prevent the change.

In the meantime, we have pulled together what we know about the changes into an FAQ below. We will update the answers to these questions as we find out more information. 

Will this affect the amount I am already getting?

The Government has said repeatedly that no-one currently claiming PIP will have their award reduced. We’re seeking clarity that nobody will get a lower rate when they are reassessed as a result of these changes. Recently the courts ruled that people who find it difficult to undertake journeys because of psychological distress should be eligible for the enhanced mobility component of PIP. The Government’s new law will block the court’s decision and stop it from coming into effect.

We are campaigning for the Government to not go ahead with these changes.

Will this affect a claim that I’m currently making?

The Government has said that the situation for people currently making a claim will be the same as it was before they announced the changes. Recently the courts ruled that people who find it difficult to undertake journeys because of psychological distress should be eligible for the enhanced mobility component of PIP. The Government’s new law will block the court’s decision and stop it from coming into effect. They say that people who are currently making a claim will be treated in the same way as they would have done before the court’s ruling

Does this change mean that people with mental health problems will not be able to receive the mobility component of PIP?

No. People with mental health problems will still be able to receive the mobility component of PIP but only at the standard rate. To receive the mobility component of PIP you have to score at least 8 points based on a list of ‘descriptors’. The Government’s changes will mean that people who experience psychological distress won’t be able to score points on three specific descriptors:

  • Cannot plan the route of a journey (8 points)
  • Cannot follow the route of an unfamiliar journey without another person, assistance dog or orientation aid (10 points)
  • Cannot follow the route of a familiar journey without another person, an assistance dog or an orientation aid (12 points)

But people who experience psychological distress can still satisfy one of the following descriptors:

  • Needs prompting to be able to undertake any journey to avoid overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant (4 points)
  • Cannot undertake any journey because it would cause overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant (10 points)

So people who experience psychological distress could still score 10 points and receive the mobility component of PIP, but wouldn’t be able to score the 12 points needed to reach the enhanced rate.

Does this mean that no people with mental health problems will be able to receive the mobility component of PIP at the enhanced rate?

This means that very few people with mental health problems will be eligible to receive the mobility component of PIP at the enhanced rate.

To receive the enhanced mobility component of PIP you have to score at least 12 points based on a list of ‘descriptors’. The Government’s changes will mean that people who experience psychological distress will only be able to satisfy one of the following descriptors:

  • Needs prompting to be able to undertake any journey to avoid overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant (4 points)
  • Cannot undertake any journey because it would cause overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant (10 points)

So people who experience psychological distress will not be able to score the 12 points needed to receive the mobility component at the enhanced rate.

People might still be able to receive the enhanced rate for reasons other than psychological distress (the Government in the past has given the example of violent or suicidal behaviour). People could also receive the enhanced rate if they have both a mental health problem and a physical or sensory disability. 

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