As Personal Independence Payments (PIP) gradually replace the Disability Living Allowance, Supported Housing Worker Richard Hall explains the difference between the two systems, and offers advice for attending a ‘medical’ –  an interview in which PIP applicants describe how their condition affects them day-to-day, and their benefits claim is assessed.

Disability Rights UK

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is being phased out and replaced by Personal Independence Payments (PIP). This started back in April 2013. Existing claimants are gradually being transferred to the new benefit while new claims will automatically be assessed for PIP. Both new and old claimants will be invited to have a medical.

PIP is made up of two parts, the daily living component and the mobility component. Each component can be paid at one of two rates, either the standard rate or the enhanced rate.


DLA was also made up of two components, one for Care which had three rates (low medium or high) and one for mobility. One of the biggest changes is that the low rate bracket (around £20 a week) no longer exists in PIP.

The weekly rates for PIP 2013/14 are:

  • Standard rate daily living component:     £54.45
  • Enhanced rate daily living component:   £81.30
  • Standard rate mobility component:         £21.55
  • Enhanced rate mobility component:       £56.75

For example an applicant who gets both standard rate daily living and standard rate mobility would get (54.45+56.75) = £111.20/wk, that’s nearly £6000 a year!

Know the score: The medical is your opportunity to describe how your disability(ies) affect your day-to-day life. Along with providing some great general advice the disability rights UK website has a guide to the scoring system with which your claim is assessed Disability Rights UK. There is also some useful advice about your right of appeal if the decision is turned down.


Phone a friend: From experience I would recommend attending the medical with a support worker or someone who knows how your condition(s) affect you day-to-day. It’s not easy to remember and describe your physical and mental health to stranger in one short hour so having another persons input is extremely useful.

Take your time:
It is also useful to attend with someone to ensure you are given enough time to give a detailed description of your condition. Don’t allow yourself to be “rushed through”, it takes time to described something as complex as your physical and mental health. If it helps try making some notes before hand and taking them in with you so as not to forget anything.

Describe a bad day:
Talking about disability doesn’t come naturally to most people – we’d rather think about what we can do than what we can’t. I think this is why I have seen general tendency for people to play down the impact of their condition – especially when telling intimate things to a total stranger. My advice is to simply describe how it feels on a bad day.

Get organised:
Paperwork, groan! Although tedious, paperwork will help your case. Contact your GP for a print out of any medication you are on and perhaps a letter backing up your application. Your support worker can also help with this.