5.9 Before Personal Independence Payment is introduced we will ensure that all current DLA claimants are provided with information on what will happen to their existing claim and when they may expect to be invited to claim Personal Independence Payment.
5.10 All claimants who have been selected for reassessment under either natural or managed reassessment will be told that their DLA will be ending and that they can instead make a claim to Personal Independence Payment. Claimants will have four weeks from the date that they are notified of their requirement to claim in which to do so. We are currently considering what the claim will need to ask for, how the claim can be made and how we can support claimants through this process. As for other process and design features, we are involving the Implementation Development Group and other stakeholders in this development. We will provide further details in due course.
5.11 Where a claim to Personal Independence Payment is not made within the time limit we will initially suspend payment of DLA and let the claimant know what we have done and that they can have the suspension lifted if they make their claim within a further four week period. If no contact is made by the claimant during this period then the claim to DLA will be terminated. There will be limited appeal rights against the decision to terminate DLA, for example where there have been procedural irregularities, and safeguards will ensure that people who genuinely were not able to claim Personal Independence Payment within the time limits will be able to re-engage with the claiming process without penalty. Those safeguards will be based on our draft regulations20 which allow for people to ask us to consider good reason for not being able to comply with a requirement, especially if it was as a result of their disability or state of health at the time.
5.12 The initial claim process for Personal Independence Payment under reassessment will be similar to the process for new claimants. Once a claimant has submitted their claim we will send them a questionnaire on which they will be able to provide additional details in support of their claim. The questionnaire will ask claimants to describe in their own words how their disability or impairment affects them and for the names of any health care professionals, or other people, who may be able to provide supporting evidence. Claimants will also be encouraged to submit any supporting documents they may have but will not be required to obtain them if they do not already have them. Return of the questionnaire will be an obligatory part of the claiming process: failure to return the form may result in the claim to Personal Independence Payment being rejected unless there are good reasons why it could not have been completed. We will ensure that there are processes in place to send reminders and to support those we have identified as needing additional support in the claiming process.
5.13 Once we receive the questionnaire, an independent assessor will determine whether additional evidence is required from anyone else. It will be the assessor’s responsibility to gather that evidence from either the people or organisations the claimant has identified as being able to provide the most relevant information or any other source. Once the assessor has gathered all the evidence they will decide whether or not a face-to-face consultation is required. We expect the majority of all claims will require a face-to-face consultation in the first instance. Where the questionnaire has not been received, we will ensure that anyone identified as requiring additional support will automatically be given a face-to-face consultation so that they are given the opportunity to explain in their own words how their disability affects them.
5.14 All claimants who are called to a face-to-face consultation will be given advance notice of when their consultation is due. Claimants that fail to attend a consultation without good reason21 will not be awarded Personal Independence Payment.
5.15 Claimants who are called for a face-to-face consultation will be able to bring a friend, relative, carer or any other person who can support them at the consultation.
5.16 The draft Regulations relating to the provision of information in the questionnaire and to the face-to-face consultation as they apply to new claims, have already been published22 and are being consulted on. We intend that the Regulations and processes to support claimants for reassessment claims will be similar. We are not additionally consulting on any Regulations required once a claim to Personal Independence Payment has been received.