This article is for anyone who wants to support their family member with a PIP claim and is not sure where to start.
We are bringing recommendations on how to write a good letter and other tips for family carers.
Supporting evidence for PIP
Supporting evidence for PIP is needed for new claims, renewal claims or if you’re going through an appeal and can be included at any stage of a PIP claim.
Supporting evidence can include statements from a carer, friend or family member, a diary and/or medical evidence.
Supporting evidence for PIP from family
Decision-makers at the DWP and assessors who carry out face-to-face assessments may have little knowledge of your condition and are very unlikely to have any specialist knowledge of mental health.
A letter from a family member can be useful and can have a great impact on the decision.
A family member or partner is more likely to see you on a frequent basis, especially at home.
Commenting on the activities relevant to the benefit you are claiming is most helpful.
So if your partner helps you with daily living activities such as washing and bathing, dressing and preparing food, it would be helpful if they could include the things they do for you and why you have difficulty with them.
How to write a good letter of support
Despite the refreshing movement towards a formulation-driven way of communicating an individual’s difficulties instead of using diagnostic labels, unfortunately, the reality is that often access to services and benefits relies on diagnostic labels.
Therefore, if you feel strongly about not saying ‘X has a diagnosis of X’, it can be helpful to use terminology in such formulations as:
- The difficulties these individual experiences are consistent with a diagnosis of ….
- The individual is presenting with some symptoms that would be indicative of ….
- The difficulties regarding ….. are characteristic/in line with difficulties associated with…
Decision-makers within the DWP are not medical professionals, so whilst it is helpful to include formal terms, be aware of any acronyms or medical language will need explanation.
It is important to communicate the impact of any diagnosis or condition on the client and their ability to do tasks.
For example ‘X has a diagnosis of ASC (Autism Spectrum Condition) which means that…’
Consider detailing what “support/aids” may be required to complete activities.
“Support or aids” could come in the form of BOTH physical mobility aids AND medication, people, use of safety behaviors/objects to get things done.
Sometimes clients aren’t aware of how many compensatory behaviors they have adopted which means although they are able to do an activity it may not be in the way expected.
Being curious as to how they might complete certain tasks, or even asking them to re-enact in the room, can help make the individual aware of their compensatory behaviors.
Explain in your letter how the client may lack insight into the adaptations they have made, as they may minimize these.
Timing and frequency
Be aware that if someone cannot do an activity REPEATEDLY, SAFELY and in a TIMELY MANNER (which means in less than double the amount of time it would take someone with no difficulty to complete) for MORE THAN 50% of the time – then they CANNOT do the activity.
Problem focus of letters
Letters of support for benefits are NOT therapeutic letters, and spending time detailing the person’s strengths and progress is not relevant for the purpose of this letter.
It can be helpful to highlight this to your client to help maintain your therapeutic relationship.
Highlight what difficulties the individual might face which could impact their ability to communicate the extent of their difficulties (eg. aim to please / ashamed of difficulties/interpretation of words).
Detail the risks or consequences associated with activities (eg. fatigue, distress, pain, accidents).
Clearly linking the individual’s history/formulation with current difficulties
Ensure formulation is clear and to the point. Remember, most letters are read by administrative staff.
Use professional titles
Being transparent about your role and title adds to the perceived credibility of the letter.
If you use language such as “in my professional opinion …”, ensure that your position is backed up with evidence.
Think about writing the letter together with other health professionals, or co-signing.
Consider attending the assessments in person with your client, so you can advocate for them.
Below is a list of sub-headings somebody could use when asking the claimant about themselves and then detailing in the letter:
- Mobility: use of aids, distance, dexterity, standing/sitting, coordination, getting to locations, reaching/ using objects, safe movement.
- Daily living: washing and bathing, preparing food, eating, dressing, undressing and toileting/incontinence.
- Communication: verbal, written, communicating danger, engaging with other people face to face, reading and understanding verbal information, signs, and symbols.
- Cognition: making budgeting decisions, managing therapy or monitoring a health condition, planning journeys, learning new skills, consciousness/dissociation, awareness of danger, coping with change.
- Direct risks: aggression to/from others, disinhibited behaviors, levels of distress.
Other things to consider
- What time wake/ sleep
- Routines/rituals/difficulties in any routine
- How to take medication (reminders/need people)
- Interactions with others (socially, in community, employment)
- Mealtimes – preparation, eating, safety
- Leaving the house and returning home – what support is needed?
PIP Tips for Family Carers
- Familiarise yourself with the application form and read over any PIP information that you can find. Read through the 12 activities and choose the ones which you think apply to your relative. Don’t attempt to complete the application form in one go – instead, try to complete just one activity per day.
- If you need more time for the PIP application process, because of a hospital appointment or a holiday, contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) immediately to request this.
- Always fill out the boxes for extra information and state the obvious in the assessment because it won’t be obvious to the assessor.
- Provide real-life examples for each activity, particularly if there are any safety concerns or risks involved with your relative carrying out the task, and provide as much detail as possible.
Think about what your relative’s health condition or disability is, and how this impacts their daily routine. What problems and challenges are associated with carrying out daily activities?
Do the problems arise during the morning, evening, at night, or all of the time?
How your relative’s condition varies, from day-to-day or week-to-week, and how much it varies?
What problems does your relative experience when they are at their best, worst and average?
- Consider keeping a diary for the next two weeks of how your relative is affected day-to-day by their health condition or disability. This will help to evidence their daily challenges and any fluctuating conditions.
- Remember the ‘reliability’ factor. A person must be able to carry out an activity safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly, and in a reasonable time period. If the person is not able to do an activity ‘reliably’, in all the four ways listed above (even with aid or appliance), then they cannot do that activity.
- Include details of any help needed – even if your relative does not receive that help. Make reference to any supervision, prompting or assistance needed or provided from another person, and list any aids (e.g. a walking stick), appliances (e.g. a wheelchair) or personalized technology (e.g. a safety kettle) that your relative uses or needs.
- Consider writing your own report about what you feel your relative’s challenges are. This is also your opportunity to tell the DWP if you feel that your relative would not cope with a face-to-face assessment and why. Similarly, if your relative has mobility problems and would struggle to get to an assessment center then this is your opportunity to request a home visit.
- Keep a photocopy of the application form, and staple any additional pages to the original that you intend to send to the DWP. Write your relative’s name, national insurance number, and date of birth on the top of each additional page. You could also provide a list of the additional pages and documents that you have sent, to ensure that everything is accounted for.
- The more evidence that you provide the better the outcome is likely to be. Include any assessments that provide an accurate account of your relative’s condition and how it affects them. This could be a recent adult social care assessment, care and support plan, or a behavioral plan, or reports from psychologists, psychiatrists, and care providers. You could also request a supporting letter from your relative’s GP (contact us for a template). You may be asked to pay for new evidence reports; however, you can ask the DWP to request the reports instead – but, you risk them not requesting the information and the evidence not being considered.
- Send photocopies of the evidence rather than the original documents. Do not mark any evidence as ‘confidential’ or ‘in confidence’
If you are still struggling to complete the assessment on your own, ask social services to provide you with contact details for local benefits support groups and charities.
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
This article, titled “Supporting evidence for PIP from a family member”, is meant to give recommendations and assistance to anyone who wants to apply for a PIP award.
Decision-makers at the DWP and assessors who carry out face-to-face assessments may have little knowledge of the claimant’s condition and are very unlikely to have any specialist knowledge of mental health.
Therefore a letter from a family member can be useful and can have a great impact on the final decision.
We hope that you can find this article as guidance in writing a support letter for PIP.
If you have any questions or if there is something we left unsaid, please let us know in the comments section below.
FAQ about Supporting evidence for PIP from family members
What evidence do you need for PIP?
For PIP you need medical evidence and you can usually take it from your GP, psychiatrist, consultant or other healthcare professional.
Medical professionals can explain what your condition is, your treatment and how the condition affects your everyday life.
Can you email evidence to PIP?
You cannot send PIP evidence by email, but you can print out your letter and send it by post to the address you sent your PIP claim form to.
If you can’t find the letter with the address on, call the PIP claims helpline.
Do PIP assessors contact your GP?
The PIP assessors might contact your GP if the evidence you provided was not enough, or if there is something unclear.
Can you claim PIP without a diagnosis?
PIP doesn’t require a diagnosis but you do need to be able to show what the impact of your symptoms has on your daily living.
Your GP will not necessarily be asked to provide a report, and it will cost you if you ask them to provide you with one.
Can I work while claiming PIP?
You can work while claiming PIP as it is not means-tested and you can be paid PIP whether you are working full-time, part-time or not at all.
What illness qualifies for PIP?
To qualify for PIP you must be aged 16 or over and have a long-term disability or health condition, and need help or support with daily living, or with mobility, or both.
- Personal Independence Payment: What You Need to Know
- How to Remain Calm In the Midst of Chaos
- How to Write Letters
- Caregiving Diary: Daily and Hourly 245 Page Planner
- Diary of a Caregiver: The Dementia Journey
- Getting evidence to support your PIP claim – Citizens Advice
- PIP Tips for Family Carers – Through the Maze
- Supporting evidence for PIP and ESA claims – Action for ME