Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Tip 1. Be Aware of your Coping Mechanisms

In this series of videos I will be covering all aspects of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), from general advice on how to approach the application form and assessment, to specific advice on tackling each question. For more detailed articles, you might also be interested in reading Your bite-size PIP application part 1: 7 tips to read before starting, and for tips on appealing a decision, see Many Lemon’s PIP Appeal Advice part 1 and part 2.

A gentle recommendation: It’s hard to have to explore this stuff, so as you tackle PIP, I urge you make sure you ‘time-box’ the work and above all be kind to yourself. Make time and space for resetting to the whole ‘you’ – you are not solely defined by your illness.

In this first video I talk about being aware of your own coping mechanisms. We all have workarounds, and you have probably learned to make allowances for your symptoms. You have probably done this to the point that you don’t realise how much extra time, effort and planning you have to put into your days, and don’t necessarily put enough weight on exactly how distressing and distracting your pain and exhaustion is (because it’s not good to do this if you want a healthy mind and spirit!).

This is not the time to be the host or hostess with the most-ess; it’s not the time to hide or push through your symptoms for the sake of social graces or to prevent your conversation partner (i.e. the assessor) from feeling ‘awkward’; it’s not the time to worry that you’re ‘moaning’ or ‘laying it on with a spade’ or ‘banging on about it’ (as a lot of us are probably a bit paranoid about) – you’re not. You’re informing the benefits system about what it’s like for you to live with your illness.

Be aware of the allowances you make for your symptoms. Be realistic – remember what it was like before you got ill and realise how much you deal with now, perhaps without even realising the extent.

I recommend keeping a detailed diary for a day, or even a week to record the following:
* How much planning do you have to do now in order to get the basic things done in the day?
* How distracting can your symptoms, such as pain and fatigue, be?
* Do you wrestle with your symptoms, such as numbness, tremors, stiffness, pain, fatigue and sensory symptoms?
* What do you do in order to get through the day with these problems?

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5 thoughts on “Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Tip 1. Be Aware of your Coping Mechanisms”

    1. Hi William, at present you are allowed to record any phone calls from the DwP about your claim (e.g. put the phone on speakerphone and use a recording device). According to the DwP you are also, technically, allowed to record your face-to-face PIP assessment, but you must (1) inform DwP in advance (2) use only a dual tape recorder or CD player and (3) give the assessor a copy of the recording at the end of the session. So in practical terms, it may not be possible. People have been known to record their assessments covertly for their own personal use, using e.g. a mobile phone, but if the assessor finds this out you will be asked to stop recording and it is in your best interests to comply without hesitation. It may not be worth the risk in my opinion.

      However you are able to take someone with you, and I would advise this, as between the two of you it will help you to firstly remember what was asked and how you answered it, and secondly to remember anything that was not asked or answered, which can be just as important if you have to appeal the decision. It would also be a good idea to immediately write down everything you can remember from the assessment as soon as it is over, while your memory is fresh.

      The benefitsandwork website supplies, among other documents, a PIP guide that contains a form you could use after the assessment to write down all the information that would be useful if you need to appeal. It’s available to paid-up members. I can’t recommend their guides enough.

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