How to apply for Personal Independece Payment as an autistic adult.
This is a step-by-step guide about the process of claiming PIP.
Note: to apply for PIP you do not need to be out of work, and you do not need to receive any other benefits. PIP is independent of these factors.
Step 1: Contact the DWP.
Before contacting the DWP to apply for PIP, collect evidence of your disability. You might have a copy of your diagnosis, or you might need to contact your GP or another specialist for a copy of your diagnosis. You should do this first, because once you contact the DWP for forms, this starts a 30 day timer for the forms to be returned.
PIP is applied for via the Department for Work and Pensions.
You can apply for a PIP form by ringing them on 0800 917 2222, by using the textphone on 0800 917 7777, or by writing a letter requesting a form to Personal Independence Payment, New Claims, Post Handling Site B, Wolverhampton, WV99 1AH.
Typically the quickest method is by phoning them, although you are likely to be on hold for a while. 0800 numbers are free to call from landlines and mobiles.
A trusted adult can support you to make calls and to speak at assessments.
Step 2: “How my disability affects me”.
You will receive a form which has a lot of different questions about how your disability affects you. This form must be completed and returned, along with evidence of your diagnosis, within a month of recieving the form.
This form is where you make your case as to why you think you need PIP.
This form is not written with autism in mind. This means that some of the questions might seem irrelevent, or they might be ambigiously worded. For example, one of the questions is about whether you are able to take nutrients through preparing and eating dinner. While you might think, “yes of course I can eat dinner by myself!”, what this question is actually asking is, Are you able to shop for yourself, or do you get overwhelmed in food shops? Do you know when you are hungry? Are you, accounting for sensory sensitivities and food restrictions, able to prepare yourself an appropraite meal safely? Do you need someone else to prompt you to remind you to eat? Are you able to use the oven or hob safely, without forgetting about the food or leaving it on? Are you able to balance multiple aspects of cooking, such as vegetable that need one timer and meat that needs another? Do you need someone elses support for aspects of the dinner making process, such as cleaning up, washing up, and keeping the kitchen sanitary so that you don’t get ill?
There is an aspect of “interpreting” the questions on this form for autism. If you live in Nottinghamshire we can help you with this. Email us on email@example.com for support.
After you have completed this form, and gathered appropraite evidence of your diagnosis (a doctors note or the outcome of your ASC assessment), this can all be posted to the address provided with your form.
Step 3: Assessment
Sometimes, there is an assessment. This just means that the DWP need some more information in order to assess your claim. During the lockdown, this is done over the phone or via a video call.
During this call, you will be asked similar questions to the ones on the form. It doesn’t matter if you repeat what you said on the form, but it is also good to add some more details if possible so that they can get a clear idea of how being autistic affects your daily life. For autists in the Nottinghamshire area, we can support you on this call.
Step 4: the decision
Next, the DWP will write to you to tell you the outcome of your case.
They might tell you that they are awarding you PIP, and in this case, they will also give details of how much PIP is being awarded, when you will be paid, and when your case will next be reviewed.
They might tell you that they are not awarding you PIP, and in this case there will be a written statement of reasons as to why they have decided this. If you think that they have made a mistake, and the written statement of reasons is not accurate to your situation, you can challenge this decision through a process called mandatory reconsideration.
Again, we can support you with this process if you live in the Nottinghamshire area.
Step 5: Mandatory Reconsideration
You can apply for a mandatory reconsideration via phone or post. You will have space to explain why you disagree with the decision, and provide any more appropraite evidence that may have been missed in the first application. This must be completed and returned within one month of the date on the original decision letter.
This process means that someone else from the DWP will re-assess your claim, and see if they come to a different decision.
Step 6: tribunals
If the outcome from the MR is still not the decision you expected, you can make an appeal to the social security and child support tribunal. This is called going to tribunal. The tribunal is impartial, and independent of the government, meaning that your case is looked at by people who do not work for the DWP.
If possible, the judge will make a decision on your case by looking at all the paperwork and evidence that has been sent.
Sometime, they are not able to make a decision based on just the paperwork. You may or may not have to physically attend the tribunal in person, depending on current covid restrictions. If there is a lockdown, then you may have to attend virtually via a video call.
It is normal to feel anxious about going to the tribunal, but they are there to hear your case – they are not trying to trick you or catch you out in any way.
This is less formal than what you might imagine for a tribunal. The tribunal board will consist of a legally qualified judge and two other independent people, one of which will be a doctor. Someone from the DWP might attend to give their evidence, but they are not involved in the final decision.
The judge will ask you questions about why you are appealing the decision, and also questions about what your daily life is like and how it is impacted by your disability. The judge will also ask questions of the DWP if they are there, and of your support if you have brought support.
You will be asked to leave the room while the judge makes a decision, but often you will be told the decision immediately.
If you win this appeal, the DWP will pay you all the PIP you would have been intitled to from the original date of your application.
If you do not win this appeal, you can only take it higher if you think a legal mistake has been made. If no legal mistake has been made, this is the end of the road for claiming PIP. You are able to begin again from the start, but unless your needs have changed you are likely to receive the same result.