Many Deaf people are currently receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA) as of legal right and may, like me, have got used to it.
Unfortunately, the coalition government has decided to go back on this arrangement by abolishing DLA and replacing it with a new benefit, the Personal Independence Payment (or PIP for short.) The government say they want to ensure that the money will go to those who ‘most need it.’ I am not so sure about this as they have also mentioned a 20% target for cuts.
These changes don’t necessarily mean that Deaf people will not get PIP, what they mean is that we will have to start again with moved goalposts. Some people who qualified before may miss out this time around. It seems to me that not all Deaf people are aware of what is happening, so I thought that I would provide a brief description.
The first thing to be aware of is that these changes will affect all Deaf people of working age who are currently receiving DLA. They will apply even to those people who have won an indefinite or lifetime award at tribunal.
At some point between October 2013 and March 2016 people who are already getting DLA will be asked to apply for PIP. They will not just cross over to the new benefit automatically. Whether or not they continue to get money depends on if they meet the new criteria.
From April 2013 new claims for DLA will not be allowed in certain parts of the country as PIP is first rolled out and claims must be made for the new benefit instead. Then from June 2013 only claims for PIP will be allowed country-wide.
If you think that it is wrong for the government to retrospectively change people’s benefit entitlement like this, you will have no argument from me. But here we are and so when you are asked if you would like to apply for PIP, I would suggest asking for help from your council’s welfare rights team, the CAB or an organisation like RAD before filling in the form. Here we go again!
Principal source of information: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/policy/disability/personal-independence-payment/
Tim is Deaf from a young age, a law graduate and ex CAB volunteer. He now divides his time between art, walking his dog and maniacal armchair-activism. He is a slow, but steady BSL learner. You can follow him on Twitter as @TimRegency