personal independence payment introduction

What is Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a disability-related benefit for working-age people (aged between 16 to state pension age) who live with a long-term health condition such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or disability. It is tax-free, non-means tested, and is not based on national insurance contributions. Any earnings or other income do not affect the eligibility for this benefit.

PIP replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for those aged 16 or over. If you are in receipt of DLA, you will be asked to claim PIP instead at some stage. The exception to this is if you were aged 65 by 08 April 2013, you can stay on DLA and will not be asked to claim PIP.

There are two components to PIP, which are

  • Daily living component
  • Mobility component

Each component can be awarded at either a ‘standard rate’, or an ‘enhanced rate’. PIP is based on how your MS affects you as an individual and can act as a ‘passport’ for other support.

If you receive the daily living component, a person who helps to look after you may be entitled to claim Carer’s Allowance.

If you receive the mobility component, you are automatically entitled to a blue badge. If you receive the enhanced rate of mobility you can also apply to join the Motability Scheme.


There are specific qualifying rules for PIP and the award is based on a points system. To apply for PIP, you must

  • Be over 16
  • Have a long-term physical or mental health condition or disability
  • Have difficulty with certain everyday tasks or getting around
  • These difficulties are expected to last at least 12 months from when they started

You can make a new PIP claim if you are under the state pension age, otherwise, you will need to apply for Attendance Allowance (see below).

If you are returning to the UK from living abroad, you need to be resident in England, Wales or Northern Ireland for at least two of the last three years and be living in one of these countries when you apply.

The PIP assessment

The assessment for PIP looks at how difficult you find the activities of daily living, such as washing, dressing, and making a meal along with the process of getting around, such as walking to a bus stop, to the shops, driving a car and understanding instructions to get somewhere when you are not at home.

You will be assessed on your ability to perform a list of activities concerning daily living and mobility. Points are awarded based on the level of difficulty you have doing each activity. A sample assessment form can be found here.

Benefits and Work have a useful PIP self-test, whereby you can choose the descriptors most suitable, and it will work out an estimated score.

It is important to include as much information in your form as you can to help build a full picture of how your condition affects you.

Once you have submitted your form, you will be asked to attend an assessment centre for a face-to-face meeting with an independent healthcare professional (or this may be over the telephone).

Obtaining evidence for your PIP claim

It is not essential, however strongly advisable, to gather as much evidence as possible relating to any support need/disability that you may have.

As part of your application, you can provide supporting medical evidence of your condition. To do this, it is suggested that you will need to collate any existing reports or letters from professionals or contact them to ask for up to date evidence. The professional you may contact could be

  • Neurologist
  • MS nurse
  • Physiotherapist
  • Speech and Language Therapist
  • GP
  • Social worker
  • Occupational therapist

Gaining evidence of this kind is important as qualifying for PIP is based upon the impact the condition has on you and not a diagnosis of the condition itself. Turn2us have some useful information on what kind of letters to gather.

Important things to know before completing the form

There are certain ‘rules’ that apply to conditions where a need fluctuates. A descriptor will apply to you if it affects you for over 50 per cent of the time.

When answering a question, you will also need to apply the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) ‘reliably’ test to yourself. For a descriptor to apply to you, you must be able to carry out the activity it describes ‘reliably’, which means

  • Safely – in a fashion that is unlikely to cause harm to yourself or another person
    To an acceptable standard – this is a standard that most people would consider ‘good enough’
  • Repeatedly – this means being able to repeat the task as often as is needed
  • In a reasonable time period – no more than twice as long as the maximum period that a non-disabled person would normally take to complete that activity

How to apply

For England, Wales and Scotland, you can apply for PIP via the Government website.

For Northern Ireland, you can apply via the Nidirect website.

More information

You can download and read a very detailed and robust guide to claiming PIP from Disability Rights UK. This guide makes a good suggestion for keeping a needs-based diary to help you in the claim process. It even has an example diary of someone living with MS.

Benefits and Work have some useful downloadable guides on PIP. For an annual fee, you can subscribe to their website for further advice and information and also gain access to an online forum.