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What are personal independence payments?

Harriet Meyer / 02 October 2015

Personal independence payments have replaced the old disability living allowance. How do the two benefits differ and who is eligible under the new system?

Mature couple sitting on a bench to represent living an independent lifestyle
The benefit aims to help people live independent lives

A welfare-shake up saw personal independence payments replace the old disability living allowance, with this benefit aimed at continuing to help people live independent lives.

These payments may help those living with disability or a serious illness, depending on the outcome of an assessment. Here we answer some of your questions:

How does PIP differ from DLA?

PIP began replacing the old disability living allowance (DLA) in June 2013. Under the new payments, the criteria for receiving help became more rigorous with the majority of claimants subjected to continuous reassessment. So it has different qualifying rules that saw many people receiving DLA having to reapply under PIP.

You will need a medical assessment, and often a face-to-face consultation. It has only two components for payment, compared to three under DLA.

The payments are in a similar range at from £21.80 to £139.75 a week, depending on the severity of the condition, to help with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill-health or disability.

There are various aspects to PIP, however, including a ‘daily living’ and ‘mobility’ component. Whether you get one or both depends on an assessment.

Find out about other benefits you may be entitled to in retirement.

Who is eligible?

Whether you are eligible depends on how your condition affects you, rather than the condition itself. For example, perhaps you face problems undertaking basic daily activities, such as washing and getting dressed.

You’ll face an assessment to find out if can claim this benefit, and should be eligible provided you meet the following criteria:

  • You are aged 16 to 64.

  • You have a long-term health condition or disability that affects your daily life. You must have had this condition for three months with an expectation that difficulties will last for at least nine months.

  • You are in Great Britain when you claim, and have been for at least two of the past three years (there are exceptions, so check details for these at

  • You are resident in the UK, Ireland, Isle of Man or the Channel Islands and not subject to immigration control.

Does you partner or relative help you with your care? Could they claim carer's allowance?

How do I claim?

Get in touch with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if you want to make a claim (call on 0800 917 2222, or textphone 0800 917 7777, or write to Personal Independence, Payment New Claims, Post Handling Site B, Wolverhampton, WV99 1AH).

You’ll need your basic details, such as name and date of birth, national insurance number and bank details. Also have your doctor’s name and details to hand. You’ll then be sent a ‘How your disability affects you’ form to complete.

Once you’ve applied you should get a letter telling you how you’ll be assessed. If this needs to be face-to-face with a healthcare professional, you should receive details of where you need to go. If you need help claiming, contact your local Citizens Advice.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.