What is Personal Independence Payment (PIP)?

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a benefit for people aged 16 to State Pension age. It is for people who have problems with daily living or moving around. You must have had these problems for 3 months and expect them to last for at least 9 months, unless you are terminally ill.

If you have reached State Pension age and are making a new claim, you should claim Attendance Allowance instead of PIP. If you have received PIP before reaching State Pension age, you can continue to get it.

PIP has replaced an older benefit called Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for adults. If you have not reached State Pension age and are making a new claim, you must apply for PIP.

Find out more about the benefits and financial support available for people living with cancer. 

What if I already get Disability Living Allowance (DLA)?

If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, you only need to apply for PIP if you were born after 8 April 1948 and one of the following applies to you:

In some cases, it is best not to claim PIP if you already get DLA because your payments may end up lower than before. For more information about this, call our welfare rights advisers on 0808 808 00 00. It is important to tell the DWP if your circumstances change.

If you live in Northern Ireland and were aged 65 or over on 20 June 2016, you will continue to get DLA if you are still eligible. It is important to tell the Department for Communities (DfC) if your circumstances change.

Can I claim PIP?

To get PIP, you must have problems with daily living, moving around or both. You must have had these problems for 3 months and expect them to last for at least another 9 months. But there are special rules if you are terminally ill and are expected to live for less than 6 months.

You may not need to wait 3 months to claim. The qualifying period starts when your needs started, not when you make a claim. If you have had your problems for more than 3 months, you can make a claim.

To claim PIP:

  • You must have lived in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland for at least 2 of the last 3 years.
  • You must also be in one of these countries when you apply. There are additional rules if you live abroad or are not a British or Irish citizen.

It is also important to know that: 

  • you can claim PIP whether you are working or not
  • you do not need to have paid National Insurance to claim PIP
  • your income and savings do not affect your claim
  • if you are awarded PIP, your other benefits are not reduced – they may even increase
  • PIP payments are tax-free
  • PIP is based on how your condition affects you, not on the condition you have
  • you can still get PIP if you do not have a carer.

PIP has two parts. They are:

  • the daily living component
  • the mobility component.

You may get one or both parts.

The daily living component

You may get the daily living part of PIP if you need help more than half of the time with things like:

  • preparing or eating food
  • eating and drinking
  • taking medicines and managing treatments
  • monitoring a health condition
  • washing and bathing
  • using the toilet or managing incontinence
  • dressing and undressing
  • communicating with other people
  • reading and understanding signs, symbols and words
  • engaging with other people face to face
  • making decisions about money.

The mobility component

You may get the mobility part of PIP if you need help:

  • going out – for example, planning and following a route to another place 
  • moving around – for example, walking.

Terminal illness and special rules

If you are terminally ill, you can apply for PIP using a fast-track process called special rules. You can apply if your doctor thinks you may be reasonably expected to live for less than 6 months. You should get your first payment within 2 weeks of applying. We have more information about how to apply using special rules.  

Claiming PIP under special rules means:

  • you do not need to have had daily living or mobility problems for the last 3 months
  • you do not need to have a face-to-face consultation
  • your claim will be dealt with quickly
  • you get the daily living component at the enhanced rate straight away
  • the money is paid weekly
  • you may also be able to apply for the mobility component, depending on your needs
  • someone can make the claim on your behalf.

How will I be assessed?

If you apply for PIP, you must complete a form that asks personal questions about how your health problems affect your daily life.

The form asks you questions about day-to-day activities, such as preparing food. Your answers are then assessed against a list of descriptors. These are statements that describe how much and what type of support you need to do the activity. For example, one descriptor is ‘Cannot cook a simple meal using a conventional cooker, but is able to do so using a microwave’.

Each descriptor has a point score. The number of points you get depends on how much help you need. Your scores for the activities are added together and the total affects how much benefit you get.

You are only considered able to do an activity if you can do it:

  • safely
  • to an acceptable standard
  • as often as you need to
  • within a reasonable period of time, without any help.

The claim form is long (33 pages) and you should set aside a good amount of time to fill it in. You may find it helpful to read the form first. Then you can get all the information you need before you start. The form also comes with notes to explain and help you answer the questions.

Try to include as much detail as possible about how your condition affects your daily life. For the range of activities, you should explain how you manage on both good and bad days.

It is a good idea to get evidence about your illness from the people looking after you. You should submit this evidence with your claim, or soon afterwards. You could also ask for evidence from your:

  • doctor
  • cancer specialist
  • support worker
  • carer.

You have 1 month to complete and return the form in England, Scotland and Wales. You have 4 weeks if you are in Northern Ireland. If you cannot complete the form within this time, you can phone the PIP helpline on 0800 121 4433 and ask for an extension.

Recording the problems you have every day in a diary can also help to show how your condition affects your daily life. We have a diary you can use to do this.

Face-to-face assessments

A health professional will look at the information you have given in your form. Sometimes they can assess you using the written information, or by asking your health professional for extra details. But most people also have a face-to-face assessment. This may be at a PIP assessment centre. You can take someone with you for support if you want to.

If you need to travel to an assessment centre, you can claim help with your travel costs. You can find out more about this from the assessment centre. We also have information about getting help with your travel costs.

If you are too unwell to travel, you can ask for a home visit for the assessment. You may need a letter from your doctor or consultant to support your request.

The face-to-face assessment takes about an hour. You will be asked questions about how you do different activities and how your condition affects your daily life.

If you miss your face-to-face assessment, or you cannot make your appointment, contact the assessment centre straight away to ask if they can reschedule it. The number to call is on your appointment letter. Missing an appointment could mean your PIP claim will be rejected and you will have to start the application process again.

You do not need to have a face-to-face assessment if you are terminally ill and claiming under special rules.

The way you are assessed may be different during the COVID-19 pandemic as face-to-face assessments may not be possible. If you would like more information on how these changes may affect you, contact our welfare rights advisers.

How can I claim PIP?

  • If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, you can call the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claims line on 0800 917 2222, or use textphone 0800 917 7777.
  • If you live in Northern Ireland, you can call the Department for Communities (DfC) Personal Independence Payment (PIP) centre on 0800 012 1573, or use textphone 0800 587 0937.

Someone else can call on your behalf to apply, but you need to be with them when they call. You must give your permission for the DWP or DfC to speak to that person about your claim. You do not need to do this if you are terminally ill and claiming under special rules.

It is important to have the following information with you when applying:

  • your full name, address and telephone number
  • your date of birth
  • your National Insurance number (you can find this on letters about tax, pensions and benefits)
  • your bank or building society account number and sort code
  • your GP’s details, or details of other healthcare professionals
  • details of any time you have spent abroad in the past 3 years
  • details of any recent time you have spent in a care home or hospital.

You do not have to answer any detailed questions about your health when you call.

The DWP or DfC will then post you a claim form to fill in.

Who can help me apply for PIP?

Getting support from an experienced welfare rights adviser can help your application.

You can speak to a Macmillan welfare rights adviser free by calling the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00. Or visit macmillan.org.uk/inyourarea to find out whether you can see a Macmillan welfare rights adviser in person.

You could also contact your local Citizens Advice or benefits advice centre.

How much could I get?

Each component is paid at either a standard rate or an enhanced rate, depending on your needs:

  • The weekly daily living component is £60.00 at the standard rate, and £89.60 at the enhanced rate.
  • The weekly mobility component is £23.70 at the standard rate, and £62.55 at the enhanced rate. 

The point score you were given as a result of your assessment affects how much benefit you get.

If you get 8 to 11 points, you receive the standard rate of each component. If you get 12 points or more, you receive the enhanced rate.

If you get under 8 points in either the daily living or the mobility component, you cannot get that part of PIP.

What happens if my claim is approved?

You will be sent a decision about your claim in writing. If your claim is approved, the letter will tell you how much you will get and for how long. You will also be told if the decision will be reviewed at a later date. This is to make sure it still meets your needs in the future.

The money is paid directly into your bank, building society or credit union account. It can also be paid to someone on your behalf if you cannot make a claim yourself.

The benefit you get is worked out at a weekly amount. It is usually paid as a lump sum every 4 weeks. If you have applied for PIP under special rules because you are terminally ill, it can be paid weekly.

If you get PIP, you may also be entitled to other benefits. For more information, call our welfare rights advisers on 0808 808 00 00. They can also check you are being paid the right amount.

What happens if my situation changes?

If your situation changes, your PIP claim may be affected. For example, if your condition gets worse, you might be able to get the higher rate.

Your benefit payments may be affected if you go abroad, or if you go into hospital or a care home, for more than 4 weeks. This can be either one stay, or several stays where there is less than 4 weeks between admissions.

The rules are complicated, so it is a good idea to speak with a welfare rights adviser by calling 0808 808 00 00. Or visit macmillan.org.uk/inyourarea to find out if you can see a Macmillan welfare rights adviser in person.

You should tell the benefits service if anything changes:

  • If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, you can do this by calling the PIP helpline on 0800 121 4433, or use textphone 0800 121 4493.
  • If you live in Northern Ireland, you can contact the PIP centre on 0800 587 0932 or use textphone 0800 587 0937.

What can I do If I am refused PIP?

If you are refused PIP or are given less money than you previously got for Disability Living Allowance (DLA), you can ask the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or Department for Communities (DfC) to reconsider the decision. This is called a mandatory reconsideration. You must ask for a mandatory reconsideration within 1 month of the decision date.

You can also ask for a mandatory reconsideration if your PIP is reduced after a review or renewal claim. You need to explain why you think the decision is wrong and give more evidence if you can.

If you miss the deadline, your request may still be accepted if you have a good reason. For example, this could be if you were unable to contact the DWP or DfC because you were in hospital. If you are unsure, speak to a welfare rights adviser about your situation.

About our information


  • Reviewers

    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by Macmillan professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Sean Conroy, Macmillan Welfare Rights and Energy Advice Team Service Manager.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.