My Personal Independence Payment Interview (PIP)
As most of you will know I had my Personal Independence Payment interview Thursday just gone.
I know many people worry about this, how it will be, what will happen etc, so I thought I would share my experience with you. Please bare mind however, that it is ‘my personal experience’ and I am sure also that location and whoever interviews you has a big bearing on your overall experience.
If you want to find out more of what PIP stands for, here is the official link: Personal Independence Payment Gov UK
I applied for my PIP approximately a year ago.
There are numerous forms, actually lots and lots of forms and this in itself can be quite overwhelming, in my case I kept thinking I might put the wrong thing down.
In my instance, also due to the huge amount of writing needed, I ended up having help, as I simply could not write that quantity needed without it causing me pain.
Oddly standing at the computer is a very different experience for me to sitting down and writing. With the amount of medical papers, forms etc, it is good to find an organisation that have people who can guide you in the right direction. I found this through Richmond Aid.
You have to reply to the form within a certain amount of allocated time or they null and void it if received afterwards, this is what they say anyway, which of course puts on added pressure and there is a very short turn around time required.
I sent it off in time but still got a letter saying it had not been received and that I was out of time, panic ensued, telephone call made and phew they had received it. It always pays to ring I say.
It was then the waiting game.
The date arrived.
The location that my interview was to be at was the other side of London.
For me sitting is an issue so this really was a bit of a bummer as time wise it was gong to take at least a minimum of an hour to get there. It ended up taking two hours and there was no way I could have gotten there on my own.
I telephoned Atos regularly who were the governing body in this case organising the interview. I rang regularly each day to see if my slot could be changed to somewhere nearer.
Apparently they have sites within 20 minutes from me, however due to the booking system, they are only given slots, not an actual diary, so I was advised I could either phone daily, which I did to try and re-arrange, which didn’t happen, or I could cancel, wait more months and possibly be given the same location again. There was no point in doing the latter as I had already waited long enough.
So my husband took me. It coincided with the day that the bus strike was on, yipee, trust my luck.
My youngest was put in to breakfast club and it felt like dawn when we left.
Half way there I realized that I was mean’t to bring two forms of ID which I had not, ie passport, driving license etc. Panic ensued again, telephone call made to the booking centre, they assured me if I had my credit card on me, that should be fine. So make sure to take ID with you.
Then it became apparent that although we had left plenty of time, we were still going to be late. I telephoned again, I got a rather cool reception this time. I was told that if I was more than 10 minutes late that the centre could reserve judgement on whether to send me home again and make me re-arrange. I was then told they only had two rooms operating.
I wasn’t happy at the prospect of being turned away, considering we had already been in the car 1 1/2 hrs and I was beginning to get pain flare ups. I was offered to re-book there and then but I refused, I didn’t want to go through all of this again.
My booking was in Deptford, which is SE London, I live in SW London. If you get a booking in this area, I would advice you definitely go with someone. I did not see public transport near to the centre at all.
The location was extremely, extremely hard to find and even for my husband who would challenge even a good black cab driver. We got lost on the one way system, the navigation on our phones didn’t seem to like the location and we ended up going up backs streets, dead ends etc.
Finally we found it, in the middle of nowhere. It was an area that I would have felt anxious to have been on my own in and lost.
I arrived, profusely apologising for being 10 minutes late.
As I entered, I could sense the tension in the air. There was already one young woman shouting at the receptionists, because she was late and effectively being turned away. She had obviously put her children in to childcare and travelled a long way. She was told if she was over 30 minutes late they would not schedule her in, this obviously differs to the 10 minutes that I was told. So, please take note, do not be late.
The arguing continued, it wasn’t a pleasant environment especially as I was already a tad tense/uncomfortable already and full of nervous anticipation as to what was going to happen. You do feel as you walk in, everyone’s eyes watching you and sussing out what might be your particular problem to bring you to such a place.
I did ask to go to the loo and was let through a security door which then neighboured the interview rooms of which there seemed to be more than two, there were certainly more than two people interviewing as well.
Perhaps I am a little OCD, but especially in a small environment and so early in the morning, you expect the lavatorial area to be clean.
There was nowhere for me to hang anything, which to me personally makes me feel yucky having to put everything on the toilet floor. Then upon looking at the toilet area, it was decorated with rather a copious amount of brown matter, which just added to the disgust. I then looked to the soap dispenser which was missing from the wall and lying miserably on the floor. It wasn’t a good start.
My Interviewer took me in 45 minutes after my appointment time.
He announced himself to me with a cheerful smile and immediately put me at ease.
We went in to the interview room which mainly consisted of a desk, couple of chairs and a treatment couch. He asked me to sit, I explained my situation and stood.
Then we went through a whole host of questions, all the time he was relaxed and friendly. I had feared that I would feel scrutinized or intimidated, but with this Interviewer I did not at all.
One of the questions was whether I had issues with communicating to others, he said I certainly didn’t with a laugh. A subtle hint perhaps that I talked rather a lot, which was mostly borne by nerves.
I then made an effort not to constantly chatter and give the poor chap a chance to type my answers.
There were a couple of physical tests, nothing acrobatic thankfully. One I had to say no to because I knew it would flare me up even more. This was a bending, touching toes one.
He was absolutely fine with me saying no, so rest assured, you should feel comfortable not to do something that is going to put you in even more pain or set your pain off.
All in all the interview took about an hour.
I have heard various opinions on how other people’s interview went and I think like most things it is down to the person interviewing that has a big bearing. I was lucky.
Apparently the wait is around 6-8 weeks for the results. The Interviewer gives no determination on what the possible result will be of that.
I hope that this is of some help.
© Justine Nagaur