All 1.6 million people receiving the personal independence payment benefit will have their claim reviewed and up to 220,000 could be owed more money because of fears some assessments were discriminatory, the Government has announced.
Regulations introduced in March last year meant that claimants were eligible to receive a bigger payment of the disability benefit if they couldn't make a familiar journey by themselves. However, those unable to make such a journey because of psychological distress were not entitled to the higher payment.
A High Court ruling in December found that this policy had been "blatantly discriminatory" against people with mental health conditions, and was unlawful because there had not been a consultation on the issue.
The Government has now said it will review all PIP claims and some claimants could receive backdated payments worth £100s.
How does PIP work?
PIP is designed to help with the extra costs of living with a long-term health condition or disability, for people aged 16 to 64. It's gradually replacing disability living allowance and is designed to cover extra expenses those living with a chronic condition or disability may have, such as additional transport or specialist equipment.
PIP is made up of two main parts – the daily living part and the mobility part. Whether you get one or both of these and how much you get depends on how severely your condition affects you. Here's how much you may be eligible to claim:
- Daily living part – the lower rate is £55.65/week and the higher rate is £83.10/week.
- Mobility part – the lower rate is £22/week and the higher rate is £58/week.
The minimum payment you can get is therefore £22/week, for those who are only eligible for the lower rate mobility part, while the highest payment would be £141.10/week for those who are eligible for the higher rate on the daily living and mobility parts.
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Why are PIP claims being reviewed?
Until now the rules stated that you were eligible for the higher PIP mobility rate of £58/week if you could not take a familiar journey on your own, unless this was due to psychological distress. But this exception has now been found to be discriminatory to people with mental health conditions.
In November 2016 an independent tribunal criticised the psychological distress exception, but was overruled by the Government. Then in December 2017 a High Court ruling found against the Government – it's now said it won't challenge the High Court ruling and so will backdate all affected payments up to the original tribunal date of November 2016.
Disabilities Minister Sarah Newton announced yesterday that as a result of this decision, all 1.6 million PIP claims will now be reviewed as an administrative "exercise".
She said: "This exercise will include screening the existing PIP caseload of some 1.6 million people to identify the group of people who may benefit, but the vast majority of claimants will not be affected."
Who's likely to be owed money?
While all PIP claims are being reviewed, the trigger for this was the ruling on how people with mental health conditions had been treated. So the people most likely to benefit are claimants who meet both of the following criteria:
- They don't currently get the higher rate for the mobility part of PIP.
- They are unable to make a familiar journey by themselves due to psychological distress.
In response to a question in Parliament last Tuesday (23 January), ministers said that enforcing the High Court's ruling could see up to 220,000 claimants awarded higher payments.
However, all PIP claims are now being reviewed, and Newton says this is "to identify the group of people who may benefit". She has also said that the vast majority of claimants won't see anything change.
The PIP changes haven't been made yet, and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is unable to confirm the exact date this will happen. Anyone applying for PIP in the meantime will be contacted once they have been implemented if they are eligible for more support.
I receive PIP – do I need to do anything to have my claim reviewed?
The DWP has told us that at the moment people who receive PIP don't need to do anything and will be contacted in due course.
Taking questions in Parliament today, Newton said: "For the group of people that may be affected, we will undertake a detailed review of their application and award.
"We will write to those individuals affected and all payments will be backdated to the effective date in each individual claim.
"There will be no face-to-face reassessments of awards."
How much could I be owed?
It will vary by claimant, depending on when you started claiming and your level of disability. But if you are found to have been underpaid, you could receive payments backdated to November 2016, so in some cases claimants could be owed £100s.
Disability charity Scope told us it is possible that a claimant could go from getting no mobility component to the upper rate of £58 a week. As a result, if this were backdated to November 2016, a back-of-the-envelope calculation shows someone could receive over £3,000 in backdated payments.
Additional reporting by the Press Association.