This briefing explains changes to the claims, assessment and reassessment processes for personal independence payment (PIP), disability living allowance (DLA) and attendance allowance (AA) as a result of the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The briefing will be updated as further information becomes available.
Face-to-face assessments were suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, but have restarted from May 2021, alongside telephone or video assessments.
If your award is ending in less than six months and you have not been sent a form to complete or notified in writing that your award will be extended, you probably need to make a new claim. You should get advice by as soon as possible. Your money will stop automatically unless a decision is made to extend your award before it ends.
The DWP’s policy is changing quickly. So it is a good idea to get advice if the information below contradicts what you are told about your own case by DWP staff or read on gov.uk.
This briefing explains the normal processes, what has changed and what you should do in the following situations.
You can also find more information about how the law works if your award is ending soon in This article was written in 2020 whilst assessments were suspended, but at the time of writing the law described has not changed.
If you are thinking about claiming PIP, DLA or AA
You can still make a new claim. You should do so as soon as possible, because claims cannot be backdated.
Who can claim
DLA, AA and PIP are either for people who have a long-term condition or disability, or who are terminally ill. It is unlikely that anyone will qualify due to having COVID-19, unless you are affected by 'long COVID'. Get advice if you are unsure whether you are entitled to a benefit or not.
For basic information about whether you might get a benefit, use the links below. If you are unsure and you do not already get one of these benefits, you can make a claim anyway. Get specialist immigration advice before claiming if you are or might be ‘subject to immigration control’ or may not be allowed to claim ‘public funds’.
Making a claim
The best way to start a claim is by phone. The links below give other ways to start your claim, but if you do not do so by phone your benefit will start from a later date.
•To claim PIP if you are 16 or older but younger than pension age,
•To claim DLA for a child younger than 16,
•To claim AA if you have reached pension age,
If you have claimed PIP, DLA or AA but not yet had a decision
If you have already returned your DLA or AA claim form, then you should not need to do anything. The DWP can ask you for additional evidence. If you have any new evidence about your care or mobility needs, or problems you have managing everyday activities, you can send it to the DWP office that is dealing with your claim.
If you have claimed PIP there is a separate assessment process after you claim. The changes to this process are explained below.
If you have got a form that you have not yet returned
You are asked to complete a form about how your condition(s) affect you. That helps the DWP to decide whether you qualify for a benefit or not. You will not be awarded a benefit unless you return the form. It is best to return it as soon as you can.
Personal independence payment
If you have claimed PIP, there is a separate assessment process once your claim has been accepted. First, you have to complete a ‘How your disability affects you’ questionnaire (PIP2), and then you may be separately assessed.
The DWP must normally receive your completed PIP2 form within one month of the date it was sent to you. You can ask for more time by If you do not return the questionnaire, your claim can be refused. If that happens, you can challenge this decision.
To make sure you have explained all of the difficulties that you have with the relevant activities, it is a good idea to get help from an adviser to complete the questionnaire if you can. See below for how to get help with a form.
Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance
For DLA and AA you have not made a claim until you return the claim form. The DWP need to receive your completed form within six weeks of the date you asked for it, or your benefit will start later. This period can be extended. You can ask for extra time to return the form by or If an extension is refused, you should return the form as soon as you can.
If you disagree with the date from which your benefit starts, you can challenge this decision.
Get advice before doing so, because the amount of your benefit could also be reconsidered.
If you need help to complete a form
It is a good idea to get help with benefit forms from an expert if you can. This is important if you find it hard to explain your needs in writing, due to your condition or if English is not your first language. You unlikely to get a decision until you return the form. It is your decision whether you complete the form yourself or try to get help.
Advice agencies can help you to complete benefit forms, but their services have also been affected by COVID-19. You should contact a local advice agency and ask if they can help you to complete the form. You can
If there is not an advice agency able to help you, contact the DWP and ask for their help. You may be told that you should complete the form yourself as best you can. You can check by
If you complete a form yourself, the notes that you were sent with the form are helpful, and there is also information available online. There may be a specific guide produced by a charity that helps people with your condition. The links below are examples of some general guidance to help you fill in disability benefit claim forms.
•Citizens Advice has tips on and tips on
•Age UK has
Remember that if you already get a benefit your award can be reduced if you report a change. If you have not explained all of your needs on the form, it may appear to the DWP that you now need less help.
If you have an award that is ending soon, or being reviewed
Unlike most other benefits, DLA, PIP and AA can be awarded for a fixed period. Unless a new decision is made before your award ends, your benefit will stop. Normally, you cannot challenge this, because there is no need for the DWP to make a decision to stop your award.
If your PIP award is currently being reviewed
The process for reviewing PIP awards normally starts about a year before your award is due to end. You will know your award is being reviewed as you will have been sent a questionnaire called 'form AR1'. Your completed form must normally be received by the DWP within one month of the date it was sent to you. You can ask for more time by
If your award ends in less than six months and you are not sure if it is being reviewed, you can ask what is happening by
If your award is not being reviewed, see below.
If your PIP award is due to end within the next six months
Some PIP awards are not reviewed. The DWP should remind you to make a new claim about 26 weeks before your award will end. The law allows you to make a new claim up to six months before your award ends. You do not
have to wait for a reminder to make a new claim. If your award ends in less than six months, and the DWP have not sent you a review form or told you in writing that your award will be automatically extended, you should make a new claim as soon as possible. See above for how to claim PIP.
If your DLA or AA award is due to end within the next six months
Normally the DWP sends you a 'renewal' claim form about six months before your DLA or AA award ends. If you get a form to return, you should make sure that you return it in good time before your award ends.
If your award ends in less than six months and you have not recevied a claim form to complete, ask waht is happening by or
If you get DLA and have already been told to claim PIP
The DWP is moving people who were younger than 65 on 8 April 2013 to PIP. This normally happens when you turn 16 (in Scotland, 18 for people who turned 16 from 1 September 2020), or when your DLA award is due to end. If you receive a letter telling you to claim PIP you should do so, or your DLA will stop. You can ask for more time to claim PIP by You should contact the helpline before the deadline given on the letter asking you to claim PIP.
Once you have claimed PIP, the assessment process is normally the same as for new claims. If you are concerned that your DLA award is going to end before your PIP claim is decided, you can The law allows for your DLA to be stopped if you do not return the questionnaire or take part in a PIP assessment. If that happens, you can challenge this decision.
If there is a change in your circumstances
You should still report a change in your circumstances if your needs have changed, or your payment of benefit might be affected for another reason. If you can, get advice about whether you are likely to qualify for more benefit before
you report the change. That is because the DWP may decide that your award should decrease, even if you think that your award should increase. If your award is reduced or stopped, you can challenge this decision.
Letters about your benefit will explain what changes you have to report. If you are unsure whether a change will affect your benefit, get advice. It is particularly important to get advice before reporting a change if you get DLA and you are 16 or over (in Scotland, 18 or over if you turned 16 on or after 1 September 2020) and were born after 8 April 1948. This is because if you report a change you are likely to have to claim PIP instead of DLA, and the rules about how much benefit you get are different.
You can report a change by If you report a change of circumstances, you are normally sent a form to complete. A decision is unlikely to be made until you return the form, which is similar to the form that you will have already completed when you first claimed the benefit. See above for how to complete the form.
For DLA or AA you should return the form as soon as you can, but there is normally no deadline to do so. Check the letter for when you need to return the form.
For PIP, if the DWP do not receive your completed form within one month of the date it was sent to you your current award can be stopped. You can ask for extra time by
If the DWP decides to carry out an assessment
If you claim PIP or your award is being reviewed, you can be assessed by a health professional over the telephone, by video call or face to face. The DWP can do a similar assessment if you claim DLA or AA but is less likely to do so. You can
Personal independence payment
Your PIP claim can be refused or your award ended if you refuse to take part in an assessment. If you cannot take part or need extra help to do so, you should explain this as soon as possible, using the contact details on the letter telling you about the appointment. You can also ask for an alternative type of assessment if this would be easier for you. But if your request is refused you should try to take part in the assessment that you are offered if possible.
Disability living allowance or attendance allowance
The DWP can contact you by phone to ask additional questions if you have claimed DLA or AA but is less likely to do so. If you want the DWP to talk to someone else or need help to explain your needs, explain that if you are contacted.
If your benefit is stopped
If you get a decision saying that your benefit is stopping or being reduced, you can challenge this decision. First you should request a mandatory reconsideration. You can then appeal if the decision is not changed.
Your benefit may be stopped if you have not returned a form or taken part in an assessment. You can challenge that decision by explaining the reasons why you did not return the form or take part in the assessment. For example, perhaps you did not get the letter telling you about the appointment, you received the letter but did not understand it, or you were ill at the time arranged. Explain what happened in as much detail as you can.