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How the DfC makes a decision on PIP claims

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

When you're assessed for Personal independence Payment (PIP), a health professional from Capita, the assessment provider, will look at your ability to carry out a range of daily living activities and mobility activities. The health professional will consider whether your health condition or disability limits your ability to carry out the activities and how much help you need with them.

The health professional will write a report for the Department for Communities (DfC). A PIP case manager will look at your PIP2 form, the medical evidence, any information you have sent in and the report from the health professional, then decide whether you're entitled to PIP, at what rate and for how long.

PIP is made up of 2 parts, the daily living component and the mobility component. Each component can be paid at one of 2 rates, either the standard rate or the enhanced rate.

If the PIP case manager decides that your ability to carry out the component is limited, you will get the standard rate. If it’s severely limited, you will get the enhanced rate.

The daily living activities

To get the daily living component of PIP, you must have a physical or mental condition that limits your ability to carry out some or all of these activities:

  • preparing food
  • eating and drinking
  • managing your treatments
  • washing and bathing
  • managing toilet needs or incontinence
  • dressing and undressing
  • communicating verbally
  • reading and understanding written information
  • mixing with others
  • making decisions about money

Action on Hearing Loss has specific help if you can't express or understand verbal information.

The mobility activities

To get the mobility component of PIP, you must have a physical or mental condition that limits your ability to carry out some or all of these activities:

  • planning and following journeys
  • moving around

The descriptors

Your ability to carry out each activity is measured against a list of standard statements describing what you can or can’t do. These are known as the descriptors. The health professional will advise the PIP case manager which descriptor applies to you for each activity.

For example, there are 6 descriptors for ‘Dressing and undressing’, ranging from ‘Can dress and undress unaided’ to ‘Cannot dress or undress at all’.

Each descriptor carries a points score ranging from 0 to 12.

Download: Table of activities, descriptors and points [ 43 kb]

Download: Guide to the language used in the activities and descriptors [ 110 kb]

Can you carry out the activities reliably

When the assessor decides which descriptor applies to you, they must consider whether you can carry out the activity reliably. This means:

  • safely in a way that is unlikely to cause harm either to you or anyone else, either during the activity or afterwards
  • to an acceptable standard
  • repeatedly as often as is reasonably required
  • in a reasonable time period - should take you no more than twice as long someone without your condition

Using aids or appliances

Your ability to carry out the daily living activities and the mobility activities will be assessed as if you were wearing or using any aids or appliances that it would be reasonable for you to use. This applies whether or not you normally use those aids or appliances. However, if you use or need aids and appliances, this can help you to score more points.

An aid is any item which improves, provides or replaces impaired physical or mental function. It doesn’t have to be specially designed as a disability aid. Examples include a stool you need to sit on when cooking, or a walking stick to help you stand.

Scoring your abilities

When the PIP case manager decides which descriptor applies to you, you'll get a point score for each activity. For example, if you can dress and undress unaided, you'll score 0 points for that activity. If you can’t dress or undress at all, you'll score 8 points.

Your points for each activity will be added together. If you score enough points, known as the entitlement threshold, either for daily living activities or mobility activities or both, you'll qualify for PIP.

For each component of PIP, you need at least 8 points to get the standard rate or 12 points to get the enhanced rate.

Your PIP decision letter will give you your score for each activity.

Further information

You can find more information about PIP on the government website at

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