Improvements to PIP awards for those of pension age

Amber Rudd has announced changes that to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) awards for people with Parkinson's who are of pension age.

Recently, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd announced changes that will extend ongoing Personal Independence Payment (PIP) awards to more people with Parkinson's who are of pension age.

In addition, if someone with Parkinson's is under state pension age when they first apply for PIP, they will continue to receive PIP after they reach pension age.

This follows previous changes that have improved ongoing PIP awards for disabled people. These ongoing awards will mean people with Parkinson's will not have to face as many reassessments as they would have in the past.

Positive news, but more to do

While we think that stopping PIP reassessments for people over pension age is positive, it is only a minor improvement to a fundamentally flawed system.

Unfortunately, people with Parkinson's who are under pension age and not on the highest rates of the benefit will still have to go through unnecessary reassessments. In addition, it will not apply to people in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Merging assessments

In the same speech, Amber Rudd announced that they are looking into the possibility of merging the assessments for PIP and Universal Credit from 2021.

While we applaud any change that reduces the number of face-to-face assessments that people with Parkinson's have to go through, merging 2 flawed assessments will create its own problems.

Concerns about how this will work in Scotland

There is also the question of what will happen in Scotland. PIP is being devolved and currently Scotland is designing their own social security system. This means that anyone living in Scotland will still face 2 separate assessments.

Parkinson's UK Senior Policy and Campaigns Adviser Michael Griffin went to a meeting with Amber Rudd recently to discuss these announcements. Parkinson's UK called for a number of changes to the assessment process and Amber Rudd agreed to look into the concerns we raised.

Michael Griffin commented:

"During the meeting I stated that people of pension age who are still in receipt of DLA should also be made exempt from reassessment. In the vast majority of cases the award is not changed, so it is a waste of resources and creates stress and anxiety for people while they face reassessment.

"I also made it clear we are concerned that the failings in the assessment process will only be compounded by merging PIP and the Work Capability Assessment. This could have disastrous consequences for people with Parkinson's.

"With so many bad decisions being made because assessors and decision makers don’t understand Parkinson's, merging the assessments will only make this worse. When these bad decisions are challenged, some people wait over a year before their case is heard at a Tribunal.

"This is something we want to change, and Parkinson's UK will be campaigning to reduce these waiting times, so people with Parkinson's do not have to face the loss of income and stress caused by such long delays."

Campaign with us to fix PIP

If you have had to wait a long time to have your PIP appeal heard by a Tribunal and want to share your experience with us, please email [email protected] or call 020 7963 9349.

Questions about benefits

Our helpline and local advisers are here to answer any questions you have about Parkinson's, including accessing benefits and support.