The PIP Process – Part 2: The form arrives

The wheels PIP process are definitely turning.

There was a big ‘thud’ as the post arrived through the door this morning.  My heart sank, and pulse quickened, as I suspected I knew what this would mean.  I was right…my PIP form had arrived.  I had been warned about the length of the form and about what to expect, but nothing quite prepared me for the reality of the form.  It sits beside me as I write this, the deadline for the return of the form glaring out at me from its box.  In this blog, I want to talk about the impact of the form arriving and the effect that this has.  I’ll talk through completing the form in a future blog, because, as for reasons that will become clear, I’m not about to complete it yet.

It reminds me of an old exam booklet, complete with instructions about what to do and how to do it.  Except at 40 pages, this form may take a little longer than the traditional 3 hours to complete.  At this point, I want to say a big thank you to those who have reached out to give me words of encouragement and support.  Rest assured, I’m not completing the form without some serious professional and informed advice from a variety of sources.

As I flicked through the form, the feeling of an exam stuck with me.  I felt overwhelmed.  There were some easier questions about who they should contact (I had already given this information, but I suppose some duplication is to be expected.)  The form though feels like a missed opportunity, and as if there is some magic spell needed to unlock the code around it.  At first glance, I don’t even know where to begin and just feel very, very sick.

Lets put this reaction into context.  I am blessed with a good head on my shoulders and have a masters from Cambridge and a PhD.  I clearly have at least a reasonable command of the English language and am used to navigating systems.  However, this form left me feeling stumped.  Whilst I don’t claim to be a genius, my question is, if I’m struggling with the advantages I have, how the heck have other people gone on?

The other thing about articulating the impact your disability has, is that it can be quite tricky.  I have had CP from birth.  When I first talked about the form with someone, I went through a lot of the adjustments that I had to make in everyday life that are second nature to me.  These will all need to be unpicked and put into the form, which I presume will then be assessed by someone with no understanding of my particular impairment and how it manifests itself in my case.

As the form continues, I feel as if I am almost on trial – “tell us why you can’t do this” “tell us how long it takes.”  To me, the form also has a kind of sinister tone to it, a kind of medical model writ large approach that feels deeply uncomfortable.  Whilst having to disclose details of an intimate nature it itself also second nature, somehow this feels different, as if I have to show I am ‘disabled enough’ to merit the vital help I have had throughout my life to this point.

The form also cuts against the grain to me.  I always try to be positive in my outlook and approach to life, to try and focus on what I can do.  This form just feels a bit like an exam on ‘everything Chris can’t do.’  Then there are the reminders on the form – to include all my evidence, to not delay, and to ensure I do everything I can to include it as “delay in receiving evidence on which I intend to rely” might throw a spanner in the works.  Also, is it just me, or does that wording sound a bit like a police caution?

Still, there is hope.  The form will get done..and if all else fails there are appeal routes.  According to latest statistics, almost 80% of tribunal decisions go in the claimants favour. With figures like that, it’s almost as if the system is designed to deter people from claiming in the first instance, and reward persistence.

Sources of support for the PIP process

I have received lots of helpful tweets on where you can go for help in filling out this form.  I’ve not personally used any of them yet so can’t recommend or comment further, but these include:

  • Citizens Advice
  • Benefitsandwork.co.uk
  • Third Sector organisations
  • Your local MP

About the Author

Chris Whitaker was born and grew up in Cheshire, arriving in the world with cerebral palsy after a complex childbirth. Apparently, he was lucky to be here at all and has tried to make the most of life ever since! Chris has worked in the third sector for a few years now and is also a charity trustee. Making a positive difference every day is what drives him and he gets to see the impact the third sector makes. Chris has also been able to use his own lived experience as a disabled person to make an input into his working life.

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