Being awarded PIP at long last has opened up lots of other help such as travel cards, a blue badge and discounts for those who help me when I’m out and about.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a non-means-tested benefit so people who work or have savings can get it, as it’s for the extra costs of living a disability. I didn’t think I had any extra costs, being stuck at home, but taking advantage of all the help available has really made my quality of life so much better.
I probably ought to have had PIP/DLA all along, but it’s incredibly difficult to prove how disabled you are with hidden illness. I had an attempt at applying for PIP, mentioned in this blog post Out of sight, out of mind but when I’d been turned down I just gave up as I was too unwell to cope with the stress of an appeal. It just didn’t seem worth worsening my health for longer just to keep being turned down.
I applied for some help from Pharmacist Support and one of the things they offered to do was to support me through having another go at applying for PIP. The benefits advisor they referred me to helped me think about what I can’t do but also what I do differently, or aids I use, to make everyday life easier as this is what counts towards a PIP application. I was surprised to find how much I’ve adapted to my disability without realising it, which is a good thing but means I was massively underplaying how my conditions affect me. We had 10-minute phone appointments each day to go through the form at a manageable pace.
I was fortunate enough to get a PIP assessor who has relatives with hidden illnesses, so she understood, and I was really pleased to get awarded Standard Rate for the mobility component and enhanced rate for the daily living component. There was a large sum of back-pay because the process from the date I’d phoned to apply and receiving the benefit, so that certainly came in handy for buying my scooter, which I wrote about in the blog There’s a whole world out there – let me at it!
As soon as I got the award letter I applied for these:
Even though I haven’t got a car I applied for a Blue Badge, as I can still use it in any car when having a trip out with friends, and it can be used anywhere in the country. To be eligible for one, you need 8 points or more for the ‘moving around’ component of PIP. Don’t be put off if your council’s website says you must have the enhanced rate, this was the old rule for DLA. Apply for a Blue Badge
Disabled Person’s Bus Pass
I find using buses exhausting but I’m using them more now that I have my scooter. The pass costs £10 to apply then gives free bus travel anywhere in the country between 9.30am – 11pm Monday to Friday, and any time on weekends and Bank Holidays. You just need any level for the ‘moving around’, component of PIP and you can also get a Companion Pass if you have enhanced rate for ‘daily living’. Apply for a bus pass
Disabled Person’s Rail Card
I’ve started going on day trips or to stay with family, so this is starting to pay for itself. You’re eligible if you get PIP, regardless of which component or level. Anyone you go with is also eligible for a third off, as your ‘helper’ (even if you don’t necessarily need them to help much). The card costs £20 for 1 year or £54 for 3 years. Apply for a Disabled Person’s Rail Card
And then days out!
I didn’t realise this until recently but if you have a disability, a friend gets in free to events, venues, and attractions as a helper. Just ask or see the venue or organisation’s website for info. Photo left is from a day-trip to a castle’s gardens with my sister (who got in free!) and niece.
Having my difficulties due to health problems officially acknowledged as a disability at last opened up so much help and gave me the confidence to ask for whatever I need to make life easier. I even used my newfound assertiveness to blag some cheeky electricity to charge my scooter at a café while out on Sunday!
So if you’re unsure whether it’s really worth putting yourself through the PIP process, I’d say it definitely is, especially if you can get help to do it. Action for M.E. have a benefits advisor, who has just helped a friend be successful with her PIP application, and helpful factsheets. See their Welfare Benefits section