Saturday, 14 July 2018

PIP tips! {Personal Independence Payment}

This post kinda slots into a short run about when Smiler switched from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) when he turned 16 - you can find the other posts here (part one) and here (part two)  I thought it might be useful to share these tips and pointers for others who are filling in PIP forms for their child (or even themselves, so please excuse my references to 'your child').  It seems the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are retaining DLA for under 16's (for the time being at least), so this switch from one to the other at age 16 is here to stay.  There's a few photos of Tilly the kitten thrown in too, just to relieve the tension!

Making a start:
Working out where to start when you're filling in any of these forms is a bit of a nightmare, but often the first page or two are basic info about the person the form is about - date of birth, address, GP contact info - this seems to depend on whether the PIP claim is brand new, or if there was already a DLA award - if there is a current DLA award this info might be printed on there already, in which case you need to move on to listing health professionals, so skip down the page until you see the ◇.  Double check on the front page of the form whether  you must use black ink or all capital letters or mirror writing - I think they've relaxed a bit in the last 15 years or so but it's best to double check!  Take a pen (not a pencil, even if it doesn't specify what colour ink you need to use, they still want pen I'm afraid) and a deep breath and make a start.  Fill in the things that you absolutely know to be accurate - middle names and dates of birth and postcodes are important here.  If you aren't sure, leave it blank for now, and try and find out in a minute - especially things like contact phone numbers - you really don't want to guess!

◇  So, question 1 asks you to list health professionals that your child sees.  As you're asked for addresses, write out the whole address, including the postcode.  If you don't know the whole address, for example of the GP surgery, Google is your friend here - type in the name of the practice and the town, and you should be able to find their website, and if you go to it there will be the full address (and phone number, you'll need that too) either on the main home page or a contact page.  Might also be handy if you're not completely certain how to spell the name of the GP, as there's probably a list of them on the site.  Go back through your calendar or any letters you have to see when they last saw your child, and if you really can't work it out you could ring the surgery / hospital / office where they are based and ask if they could look it up for you - always be friendly and polite though, as you are asking for their help, and the people that answer those phones have a million and one other things to do!

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Meet Tilly

After we lost our beautiful cat Meg last year we knew we would want to get a kitten at some point - Mr and I had cats before we had the kids, and my lap was just too empty with none in the house!  Once kitten season was in full swing we sent the message out that we were looking for a kitten, hoping that someone we knew would hear of a litter somewhere.  We were lucky in that we heard back very quickly that someone who runs a youth club that Smiler goes to had a pregnant cat, and offered us first pick of the litter.  After much anticipation, on Saturday we headed over and picked out a little ball of fluff to take home.  Though initially called Jinx, by Sunday she had become Tilly - and here she is.

So far we know that she likes snoozing, tuna and chasing her tail.  She has a wonderfully rumbly purr when she is being snuggled, and likes to sit in the crook of my neck when I'm sat on the sofa.  She and the dogs are still sizing one another up, but she has hissed and spat at them when they try to steal her food, which I look at as a great sign - personally I'd rather that than she be timid and run from them, but we'll have to wait and see how it goes I guess!

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Moving from DLA to PIP when you're 16 : part two

After getting the appointee sorted, everything went quiet for a couple of months - we celebrated Smiler's sixteenth birthday, and forgot about the whole PIP thing - until the next brown envelope landed in the postbox (about a month after his birthday).

This was addressed to Mr, and asked him to decide whether he wanted to make a claim for PIP on Smiler's behalf.  If so, he needed to ring the phone number on the letter to begin the claim, but should have plenty of info to hand when he made the call as they would be taking down the details.  Remembering the DLA form (all 42 pages of it) we made sure we had everything we could thing of, and I was there, tablet at the ready, to look up anything we ought to have to hand but didn't - you know, the GPs postcode; the neuro consultants secretary's extension number; the maiden name of the physio's next door neighbour.  

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Moving from DLA to PIP when you're 16

Long time no see, I know, but now I'm back with what I hope might shed some light on a tricky time for others.  Towards the end of last year I struggled to find what I was looking for, which is odd given the dearth of info on this internet of ours!  We had the dreaded switch from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) coming up for Smiler, and I honestly didn't know what to expect.  While I could find several really informative guides to filling in the main PIP form itself (which I will share when I get to that bit) I was after more of an overview, a shared experience or two of what actually happened and when.  Because of that, I'm going to share our experience here in the hope that it might provide a bit of clarity for other parent carers going through the same thing.  I have gone back and forth a bit about sharing the details as they're specific to Smiler, and there's the whole "how dare you share that info about your child without their permission" thing.  In response to that, my reasoning is that I'm not sharing anything that is embarrassing or distressing to him, and I'm confident that since he gets a lot out of being helpful to others he wouldn't have an issue with my trying to make this process a little less worrying for someone else going through it.

So, lets start at the beginning.  Smiler has been on DLA since just before he turned one (reviewed when he was three, eight, and thirteen) and his sixteenth birthday was in September 17.  He's always been on high rate care and high rate mobility, and we've never had to appeal or ask for a Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) or anything - it's always gone very smoothly.  Partly, I think, because he had a definitive medical diagnosis very early (at ten days old), and we've always been able to send several clinic letters from different consultants referring to his myriad medical conditions, and school paperwork referencing his level of development and understanding.  His most recent DLA award expired on 24th March 18, exactly six months after his birthday.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Looking back at 2017

Sensible to look back and take stock before looking forward I guess, so here goes.

We lost Meg in November, and I still keep expecting her to jump up on to my lap and yowl for me to scratch her chin.  It was the first time we had been faced with making the decision about having a pet put to sleep, but as much as it hurts to think of her, I'm comfortable that we made the best choice at the right time.

Smiler has had a good year - no protracted hospital stays; and as the orthopaedic surgeon who operated on his hips back in 2009 retired this year, he's switching back to Bristol so that means two fewer day trips to Southampton each year from now on.  We know now that he won't be needing the daily growth hormone injections that were a real possibility this time last year, and he's so much more stable due to some medication changes and a great deal of hard work on his part.  School is going well, and while the EHCP process is a complete joke and Smiler has unfortunately been caught up in Bristol's poorly organised implementation, I'm assured things are changing.

The house is continuing to evolve - while the adaptations were completed last year, anyone who has made the kind of changes we did knows that it takes longer than that for everything to be finished off completely!  My glass house has progressed - it now has a window and door, as well as a floor!  The porch, hallways and stairs are the outliers - mainly because we've been trying to work out how to deal with the textured wallpaper!

Noah and Petal are growing up - I don't tend to mention them much on here now as they've reached an age where I don't feel it's appropriate for me to share things on their behalf.  They're incredible and (at times) frustrating young people, and I'm very very proud of them both.  Teenage years are not easy - for teens or their parents - and I believe they are handling them with grace.

Mr and I are still going strong - it was our sixteenth wedding anniversary this summer,  and I'm more in love with him now than I've ever been.  We've shared plenty of laughter this year, and I trust him more than I could have believed I would trust anyone.  Twenty years ago I would have literally laughed in your face if you told me I was going to have this, and I would simply not have been able to comprehend what you meant if you told me I'd believe I deserved it, but I know that I do. 

So that's it - 2017 is almost over, and 2018 is just around the corner.  Happy new year to you all, and I hope looking back over your own year gives you a sense of satisfaction, and a tingle of excitement for the twelve months to come.

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