I have chatted to so many people about the mountain that is the PIP Application Form, otherwise known as the PIP2 form. I totally concur with this metaphor – it would be a mission to get through it if you were well, let alone if you have a disability or chronic health condition! So far, I’ve written about tips to read before starting your application form through to tips on appealing your PIP decision. But nothing walks you through the PIP2 application form itself.
So I wanted to help out by breaking the PIP2 form down into piecemeal bits, the same way you would tackle any work that initially seems insurmountable – go through it methodically, step-by-step, and plan. If you use this approach, I hope that you will achieve your goal of completing your PIP2 form with more clarity, calm and empowerment.
So let’s take the bull by it’s horns.
Overview of the PIP Bootcamp
The PIP application form is a project. So let’s tackle it piece by piece.
I’ll be making sure that we keep everything safe and on track as we go through the bootcamp.
We will also revisit the answers to each PIP application question at least once or twice to make sure we have included everything that is relevant, and that we have communicated how our disability affects us in the most PIP-friendly and concise way we can.
Once we hit the questions individually, your days will be set up like this:
- Revisit yesterday’s draft for yesterday’s question (if there was one).
- Have you been explicit about whether it affects you the majority of the time, a significant amount of time, all the time?
- If you can manage something, have you said how often you can manage it? e.g. rarely? most of the time?
- Have you been explicit about whether you cannot do the activity safely,in a reasonable amount of time, reliably or repeatedly without it affecting you afterwards?
- Tackle today’s question in a free-flow way. Just write whatever comes into your head. Consider the questions that I put to you in the post for that day. These will help to jog your memory and to ensure that you add any information that is relevant to the specific PIP activity in question.
- Do something nice! I will be giving you ideas for how to round up your day’s session to ensure that you look after yourself throughout this gruelling process.
- As I’m sure you’re aware, it isn’t helpful to be focusing on what you can’t do. In fact it’s very damaging to our mental health. For some time during the run up to posting your application you will have to be focusing on what you can’t do, so we shall try to prevent this thought process from continuing past your PIP project daily time.
- We’ll do this by easing you back into your can-do attitude, or at the very least balancing some of this negativity required during ‘PIP application project’ time with some positivity.
A few things to kick off now if they apply to you
- If you have already started your application and received the PIP2 form, make a note of the date you received the letter and mark the 28 day deadline in your diary.
- If you feel that you will need more time to fill out the form due to either a mental health or behavioural condition, learning difficulty, developmental disorder or memory problems, phone the DwP on 0845 850 3322 and tell them. If you’re not sure you qualify for this, take a look at page 17 of the PIP1 form.
- Contact an organisation such as the CAB, your local MS Society or MS Trust branch, or another disability organisation to see if they can help you fill out the form. Anyone who has experience of filling out these forms in a professional capacity is gold. A friend or relative can also help you to fill out the form.
- Start a symptom diary to help you understand how your days go. This is helpful because we often don’t realise the allowances that we make and what we accept as ‘normal’ in order to get by. We may also underestimate, or even overestimate, how much a symptom affects us, so a symptom diary can give you a clearer picture. Google search is your friend for this! – just a quick google brought up an example diary on the MS Trust website and some guidelines on how to keep a good symptom diary for M.E / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Find something that suits you.
- If you haven’t already done so, please please please consider making an appointment to see your GP and MS nurse to discuss how your disability affects you.
- If they are able to write you a supporting letter detailing your disabilities and how it affects you, this will be incredibly useful.
- If you have been referred to any services due to your disabilities, this is also worth including in their letter, along with the reason why you were referred. Even if you cannot get this evidence before you must submit your application, it may prove useful later on.
Important note: ensure that your GP or nurse writes about how the activity affects you. Take, for example, walking – can you do it but it causes you pain or fatigue during or afterwards? Are you unsteady/unsafe when walking? Does walking 2m take you longer than normal? Are you able to walk say 20m but you can only do that a couple of times a day / can only do it in the mornings?
That’s it for today. I hope this has given you some confidence in tackling the PIP Beast.
Note: in the interests of expediency, I am posting each ‘Project Day’s instructions as I go. As a person living with multiple chronic illnesses, it will take me longer than normal to create the content. The project plan is complete, but if I wait until I have the entire project instructions ready to go before posting any of this, I fear some people will lose out on information that could be very relevant to their current applications…so I shall post as soon as another section is complete without delay. Thank you in advance for bearing with me on this!
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