The disability benefits ruling of December 2017 is, quite frankly, great news for anyone receiving Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for a mental health condition.
Under the regulations set out in March 2017, anyone with a mental health condition claiming PIP was over-looked by one element of the assessment. This meant that monthly payments designed to assist in day-to-day living were either drastically reduced or cut completely, suggesting the government were discriminating against those with mental health conditions.
If this all seems a bit complicated, let’s take a look at what PIP is and how it has been implemented.
A Brief History of PIP
In April 2013 a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP) was introduced. It was designed to gradually replace the existing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) which was instated in 1992 for children and adults who need help with personal care or mobility. PIP was designed to ensure that those “who face the greatest challenges […] taking part in everyday life” [i] received a suitable benefit; to make sure that support continued to reach them.
The intention of PIP was to simplify the complex application procedure and resolve any confusion about the purpose of the benefit.
However, new regulations added to the PIP legislation which came into force on 16th March 2017 [ii], prevented a person from receiving the enhanced PIP mobility rate, meaning that these people were only entitled to a lower level of support or in some cases, none at all. [iii]
Those with mental health conditions were being discriminated against, by the government, under these regulations. This created a shortfall of support for some of those who desperately need and rely upon it.
Then, in December 2017, a High Court ruled that the regulation changes made to PIP in March 2017, which meant that those with psychological distress could not be awarded the mobility element of PIP were unlawful. The government, although they do not agree with some of the detail contained in the judge’s ruling [iv], have stated they will not appeal the ruling and will now undertake the complex task of reviewing all 1.6m PIP claims.
What Does This Mean For You?
If you were one of those affected by the PIP regulation changes of March 2017 this means that you might be one of an estimated 160,000 people who could receive a back payment, once your claim has been assessed. It also means that around 220,000 people will potentially receive higher allowances going forward.
This is great news.
However, the Department for Work and Pensions, who will be looking into these cases, have warned it will probably take some time to complete. So it could be a little while until the necessary payments are backdated and updated.
What Can You Do in the Meantime?
If you are one of those affected, and you have found that your benefits have been substantially cut which is causing you difficulties, don’t suffer in silence.