It found that many aspects of the application process were inaccessible to people with sensory impairments, and information from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) was often lacking or inconsistent.
PIP replaced Disability Living Allowance for people aged 16-64 in April 2013.
A ‘negative’ process
The PIP application process was generally viewed as negative by participants. Those taking part in the study were often anxious in advance of, and throughout, the application process.
Some believed it focussed on what they couldn’t do where as others felt
it was dispiriting that the independence that they worked hard to achieve may work against them in relation to gaining a PIP award.
One person who took part in the process said: “I think now that it's over, we are better off on PIP, but actually applying was a nightmare.”
All participants who received a PIP award, including those previously in receipt of Disability Living Allowance, were satisfied with it. The findings imply that people with sensory impairments should apply for PIP confident in the knowledge that others have been successful in securing a satisfactory award.
The report also recommended that knowledgeable advisers would be helpful for many claimants. These advisers could help people with sensory impairments to understand the additional costs of their disability and how this can be represented in the assessment process.
The report also referred to DWP targets for the timescale of the PIP application process, which have not been met.
The report concluded that the DWP should improve on this performance and in the short term they might more clearly communicate delays to claimants – which have particularly negative impacts upon those who are claiming a disability-related benefit for the first time. The report recommended that DWP might consider fast-tracking these particularly vulnerable new claimants.
The research is the first phase of a larger study that is due to end in December 2016. It was funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust, RNIB and Sense.