Personal Independence Payment

What is Personal Independence Payment (PIP)?

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a disability benefit for people aged 16 to State Pension age. It is for people who have significant, permanent or long-lasting problems with daily living or moving around. It is not affected by how much income or savings you have, or whether you have paid National Insurance.

PIP is not awarded on the basis of a cancer diagnosis, but on the kind of difficulties you have managing day-to-day with daily living tasks like washing and dressing, cooking and eating, among other things. These difficulties can include problems with physical movement, but also with issues such as memory and concentration, or mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

You must have these difficulties more than half the time, have had them for at least 3 months, and expect them to last for at least 9 months into the future. If you are terminally ill, you can bypass a lot of these rules - contact a Welfare Rights Adviser if you are unsure whether you qualify.

PIP applications are assessed before any benefit is paid. The assessment is based on an application form and an assessment with a healthcare professional, which can be face-to-face or over the phone. Points are awarded for the degree of difficulty you have with tasks. Using an aid or an adaptation can score points.

For example, many people experience difficulty swallowing because of head and neck cancers. If you need to use a liquidiser to prepare meals, this counts as an adaptation and would score 2 points. The points are added to make a total. If the total is more than 8 points, you would qualify for PIP.

It can take several months to assess a claim for PIP, unless the special rules for terminal illness apply. If you are not sure how long into the future your difficulties will last, you can make a claim and withdraw when the assessment date approaches if you don't feel it's still relevant to you.

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.

In Scotland, PIP has been replaced by the Adult Disability Payment. This change happened in 2022.

You can use the Macmillan Benefits Calculator to figure out your benefits entitlement. 

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

PIP delays

We know there are some delays with PIP payments. For many people with cancer, this means it is taking longer than expected to receive a PIP payment from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).


Tips on how you can manage PIP delays

We understand these delays can be worrying for people who rely on PIP payments. Christopher Jones, Team Leader on Macmillan's Support Line, shares some advice:

  • You can involve your local MP to challenge severe delays in processing your PIP claim by signing our Pay PIP Now campaign. 
  • Keep a diary, noting when you have contacted the DWP. This can be useful evidence for an MP or a Welfare Rights Adviser if they are looking to chase up your application. 
  • Keep a note of any changes to your condition while you wait on the PIP application to be processed. Be very honest about how your daily life is impacted. This can be useful as further evidence that can be sent to the DWP.
  • Speak to our Welfare Rights Advisers to see if there are any other areas of financial support you are entitled to. A number of other UK benefits include disability elements similar (but not identical) to PIP, and you may be able to apply for these depending on your circumstances. 
  • There can also be support through charitable financial grants, as well as energy advice and support that may be able to help with household bills. 

Booklets and resources

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

If you live in England 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.

Am I eligible for PIP if I have cancer?

To get PIP, you must have problems with daily living, moving around or both.  A cancer diagnosis in itself does not make you eligible for PIP, so you need to be able to show the impact your illness or treatment has on your day-to-day life. You must have had difficulties with daily living tasks or mobility for 3 months and expect them to last for at least another 9 months.

You must have lived in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland for at least 2 of the last 3 years. There are exceptions if you are terminally ill. You must also be in one of these countries when you apply. 

What if I am not a British or Irish citizen?

Citizens Advice has information on claiming benefits if you are not a British citizen. You can also speak to our Macmillan Welfare Rights Advisers. Our support line has an interpretation service in over 200 languages. Call 0808 808 00 00 and tell us in English the language you want to use.


Important information about PIP

  • It is not a means-tested benefit
  • 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
  • If you meet the special rules for terminally ill people, you qualify automatically for the daily living component at the enhanced rate.


PIP Components 

PIP has 2 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 activities 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.

It's important to know that having someone prompt or encourage you with these activities counts as needing help, and also that you don't have to have a carer in order to qualify for PIP.

Using aids or adaptations can also count as needing help.

Contact a Welfare Rights Adviser if you are unsure whether you qualify.

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 12 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.

We know that being diagnosed with advanced cancer can have an impact on you emotionally and financially. Macmillan is here to support you, your family, and your friends. We have information on managing money at the end of life and Macmillan Support Line is here to listen if you want to talk.

How can I claim PIP?

  • If you live in England 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) PIP centre on 0800 012 1573, or use textphone 0800 587 0937.
  • If you live in Scotland, you can call Social Security Scotland on 0800 182 2222 to apply for Adult Disability Payment. If you're a British Sign Language user, you can use the contactSCOTLAND app to contact Social Security Scotland by video relay.

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, DfC or Social Security Scotland 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.

Information to have ready when you apply

  • 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,  DfC or Social Security Scotland will then post you a claim form to fill in.

How will I be assessed for PIP?

If you apply for PIP, you must complete a form that asks personal questions about how your health problems affect your daily life.  Once the DWP have reviewed the form, you will have an assessment over the phone or face-to-face, with a health professional.

The form asks you questions about day-to-day activities, such as preparing food. Your answers are assessed against a list of descriptors. These are statements that describe:

  • how much support you need
  • what type of help you need to do the activity.

An example of a 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.

For example, sometimes people who have had chemotherapy experience tingling, pain or numbness in their hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy). 

This can make it difficult to grip things, which can affect ability to use a vegetable peeler, twist the lids off jars, lift a heavy saucepan or kettle, or test the temperature of something by touch.   

They may not be able to stand for long enough to cook a meal from beginning to end. This might satisfy the descriptor ‘Cannot cook a simple meal using a conventional cooker, but is able to do so using a microwave’. 

This would be because they cannot do it:

  • safely - they are at risk of dropping a pot or pan of boiling water or food
  • to an acceptable standard - they may not be able to tell if something is heated all the way through
  • as often as you need to - they may not have the strength in their hands to cook every day
  • within a reasonable period of time - struggling with can openers, peelers or knives may take much longer
  • without any help - they may be able to cook but only if someone does some of the heavy jobs for them.

Points are also awarded if you need to use aids or adaptations in order to accomplish the task.  For example, if you need to use a perching stool in order cook a simple meal, you would be allocated 2 points on the cooking descriptor.

How to fill in the PIP form

The claim form is 33 pages long. You will need to make sure you have plenty 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.  You should also be specific about how often good and bad days occur.

It is usually helpful to keep a diary making a note of your daily needs. This is especially important if your condition fluctuates. 

For example, you might want to record how long it takes to have a shower, or how often you have days when showering is not possible due to fatigue or sickness. It is also helpful to record why this is impacting you. 

For example, if you can't have a shower because there is nobody present to make sure you don't slip getting in or out of the shower

It may be helpful 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:

  • cancer specialist
  • carer
  • support worker
  • GP
  • consultant.

It is also helpful to retain a copy of the information you put in your PIP form, especially if your award is reviewed.

How long do I have to complete the PIP form? 

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:

  • call the PIP helpline on 0800 121 4433 and ask for an extension – in England, Scotland and Wales
  • call the Department for Communities (DfC) PIP Centre on 0800 012 1573 and ask for an extension – in Northern Ireland.

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

How to prepare for your PIP interview

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.

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 1 hour. You will be asked questions about how you do different activities and how your condition affects your daily life.

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

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 to find out whether you can see a Macmillan welfare rights adviser in person.

Find out what you need to have ready when you call our Welfare Rights Advisers.

You could also contact your local Citizens Advice in England, Scotland and Wales, Advice NI in Northern Ireland or benefits advice centre.

How much PIP could I get?

Each component (part) is paid at either a standard rate or an enhanced rate, depending on your needs. The point score from your assessment affects how much benefit you get.

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

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

To see how much you could get, visit GOV.UK.

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.

If there is a change in your prognosis and you qualify under special rules, you don't need to wait until your condition has been worse for 3 months. 

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 the gap is less than 4 weeks each time.

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 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
  • If you live in Scotland, you can call 0800 182 2222 to discuss your Adult Disability Payment claim. If you're a British Sign Language user you can use the contactScotlandapp to contact Social Security Scotland by video relay. 

What can I do If I am refused PIP?

Sometimes people living with cancer are refused PIP because they do not meet the forward and/or backward time conditions for PIP. This may be because you have not had difficulties in place for 3 months or are not expected to still have difficulties in 9 months' time. 

Sometimes it is because people don't explain the impact of their illness and treatment on their daily living or mobility well enough. 

Sometimes it is because of a lack of medical evidence for your claim. 

It is important to remember that PIP is based on the needs you have rather than your diagnosis. It may be helpful to speak to a Welfare Rights Adviser to discuss your claim.

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, or on transfer to PIP from DLA. 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.

What if the decision does not change?

If the DWP or DfC do not change the decision, you can appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal. You need to do this within 1 month of getting a mandatory reconsideration decision letter. Time limits for appeals are strict. But if there are special circumstances, it is possible to appeal up to 13 months after the date of the original benefit decision. If you are unsure, speak to a welfare rights adviser about your situation.

If you live in Northern Ireland and are moving from DLA to PIP, you may be able to get a Welfare Supplementary Payment. This is for people who have lost money because of changes to the benefits system. You can contact the Welfare Changes Helpline on 0800 915 4604 for more information. Or you can speak to our Welfare Rights Advisers.

For more information about appealing a benefits decision, visit:

You can also speak to a welfare rights adviser by calling our support line on 0808 808 00 00. Or visit to find out if you can visit a Macmillan Welfare Rights Adviser in person.

What other financial support is available?

We know that cancer can be tough on your finances. Depending on your situation, you may be able to get other financial support to help with the extra costs of cancer.

Other benefits you might be entitled to:

  • Universal Credit is a benefit to help with living costs for people on a low income or out of work.
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a benefit for people under State Pension age who have an illness or disability that affects how much they can work.
  • Pension Credit is a benefit for people who have reached State Pension age and have a low income.
  • Carer's Allowance is the main benefit for carers. You may be able to get financial help if you are caring for someone with cancer.
  • Adult Disability Payment (ADP) is a new benefit that replaces Personal Independent Payment and Disability Living Allowance in Scotland.
  • You can use our benefits calculator to check if you are eligible for any other benefits. You will need to be a British or Irish citizen to use the calculator.

What other financial advice is available?

Our expert advisers on the Macmillan Support Line can help you deal with money worries. They include financial guides, who can explain your personal finance options for things like insurance, pensions, mortgages and tax. 

We also have Energy Advisers, who can help you try to reduce your heating and electricity costs. If you are worried about debt, we can refer you to our charity partner StepChange Debt Charity for advice.

Booklets and resources

About our information

  • 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 Macmillan’s Welfare Rights team.

    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.

Date reviewed

Reviewed: 01 May 2022
Next review: 01 May 2025
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum

Our cancer information meets the PIF TICK quality mark.

This means it is easy to use, up-to-date and based on the latest evidence. Learn more about how we produce our information.