Hundreds of thousands of disabled pensioners will no longer have to undergo unnecessary repeat assessments for disability benefits.
Today Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, gave her first major speech on improving support for disabled people. One of her big announcements was that from spring people over 65 will no longer face reassessments for Personal Independence Payments (PIP).
PIP is meant to help people with MS with the extra costs of living with the condition. But often the assessments are hard and stressful. Together, we've been campaigning to reform it with our MS Enough campaign.
One assessment for Work Capability Assessment and PIP
Rudd also announced plans to look at merging the Work Capability Assessment and the PIP assessment into one assessment service.
Genevieve Edwards, our Director of External Affairs said: “While it’s good news that older disabled people will no longer have to go through unnecessary and stressful reassessments, millions of others will still be stuck in a failing system.
"The fact 83% of people with MS who appeal their PIP cases win shows how bad the current assessment process is.
Two donkeys, one cart
“Looking to merge Work Capability Assessments and PIP assessments is similarly tinkering around the edges. Right now, neither adequately captures the reality of living with an unpredictable condition like MS, so bringing them together won’t make things better.
"It’s like harnessing two donkeys to a farm cart and expecting it to transform into a race chariot. If it wants to improve support for disabled people, the government must first fix the flaws so inherent to its assessments.”
What does this mean for people with MS?
From Friday 31 May 2019, people who make new claims for PIP and get an award that expires after they reach state pension age will no longer be reassessed for the benefit. Instead, they'll receive an ongoing award with a light-touch review every 10 years.
From 9 July 2019 this change also applies to existing claimants.
How does this affect me?
If you make a new claim for PIP from Friday 31 May and your award ends after you turn 65 you'll be given an ongoing award. For example, if you're 62 years old at the time you make the claim, and it's decided your award should be for 5 years, this means your award will end after you are 65. You'll instead get an ongoing award.
If it's decided your award will only be for 2 years, you'll still need to have another assessment as you'll still be under the pension age.
If your needs change after you get an ongoing award, you'll still be able to ask for another assessment by contacting the DWP, regardless of how old you are at the time.
If you're already claiming PIP and are over 65, the government will contact you to say you no longer need to be reassessed. They'll also tell you when your light touch review will be.
If your needs change you can still ask for a reassessment by contacting the DWP.
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We updated this news story on Monday 13 January 2020