PIP & Work Capability Assessment: Good practice, guidance and templates
By Lisa Kearns, Welfare Benefits Caseworker – Leading and Learning, Citizens Advice Staffordshire North and Stoke-on-Trent
Whilst working with a Service Coordinator to support a customer with their claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), we realised that the main bulk of evidence for many customers, comes from the experiences and knowledge of the Service Coordinator alone. This could be because the customer has been struggling to access support from the NHS or Social Care for example. As the Service Coordinator spends a significant amount of time with the customer they will often be the person best able to identify the help and support needed and provide an accurate representation of this.
Initially we asked the Service Coordinator to prepare a supporting letter explaining the customer’s needs whilst relating them to the relevant descriptors which are addressed at the face to face assessment for PIP. The Service Coordinator felt unable to do this without a template or examples.
We provided an old copy of a template used by Citizens Advice. However it was written in a very technical style and the Service Coordinator struggled to understand the jargon used and to then apply it to someone with multiple and complex needs.
We recognised that a more accessible template was needed and, quickly adapted the template to create a new simpler version with multiple and complex needs in mind.
The Service Coordinator felt more confident in applying the descriptors to their customer with the use of the new template. This is because it prompts the Service Coordinator to think about care and mobility needs that previously they would not have associated with each descriptor. It also helped them provide detailed specific information when addressing those needs on the form.
As a result of using this template to support a new claim for PIP an award of the enhanced rate of both the daily living and mobility components of PIP was awarded with very little other supporting evidence. The customer received the correct award without the need for a Mandatory Reconsideration or Appeal. Getting the right decision as early in the process as possible also means that there is less of a risk of a very large lump sum payment being made to a vulnerable customer.
Following positive feedback, we have now created a Work Capability Assessment template for Service Co-ordinators and encouraged its use within more organisations.
Disclaimer: Neither VOICES nor Brighter Futures offers any type of warranty, either explicit or implied, in relation to any type of hazard or harm occurring due or related to the use for any purpose of the templates in this article. Use is permitted on the basis that all associated risks and liabilities are accepted by the user.