6. Section 3 - Disability Assistance for Working Age People (DAWAP)
Entitlement to DAWAP
The intention is to safely and securely transfer this benefit to Scotland. New claims for DAWAP will be available to those from aged 16. We intend to link the entitlement age for Disability Assistance for Older People with changes to the state pension age which will be age 66 by 2020. The entitlement for DAWAP will therefore align with the state pension age, opening it to clients from age 16 to state pension age when Social Security Scotland begin accepting new applications.
This form of Assistance will be available to those who meet the age criteria and have difficulties with daily living or getting around (or both). To meet the eligibility criteria individuals will need to have had the physical or mental difficulty for at least 3 months and expect them to continue for at least 9 months.
If an individual is terminally ill these qualifying periods do not apply.
Benefit rules: Activities and Descriptors
The Scottish Government proposes that the criteria for awarding DAWAP will be determined on a 'points based' test against a list of daily living and mobility activities. We will be open and transparent about the criteria for DAWAP and how each activity is scored. The application process will be designed to allow the person to fully explain the impact of their disability or condition, ensuring person centred decisions. However, we are aware that the current DWP approach can be problematic for some people, including those with fluctuating conditions.
We have serious concerns about the way in which the ability to move around is currently assessed and measured, in particular the use of the 20, 50 and 200 metre rules, as well as the '50% rule' that is applied to all descriptors. This means that the proportion of time during which an individual satisfies a descriptor must amount to 50% of the days in a month period. We want to find a better way to understand people's mobility needs and ensure that people get the benefits that they're entitled to. We want to get the rules right and so will carefully consider how we can improve them in a way that does not risk the safe and secure transition of this form of assistance.
Each activity will have a list of descriptors, describing different levels of need in undertaking each of the activities. Points will be awarded on the descriptor which best meets the needs described by the individual. The points scored for the daily living component will be added together. If an individual scores between 8 and 11 points they will be awarded the standard rate of the daily living component or the enhanced rate if they score 12 points or more. The same process will be carried out to assess entitlement to the mobility component.
An individual will score points on most of the daily activities as a result of a requirement to use an aid, appliance or adaptation because of a disability or condition.
In awarding points for the descriptors, Case Managers will consider whether a person is able to do the activity safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly and within a reasonable time period.
Question 50. Do you agree or disagree with our proposal to use a points based system to assess eligibility in relation to Disability Assistance for Working-Age People?
Question 51. If you disagreed, please could you explain why.
Question 52. Do you have any suggestions about the most appropriate way to assess eligibility in relation to mobility for Disability Assistance for Working-Age People?
Question 53. Do you have any comments on the full list of descriptors (provided at page 36) currently used to assess claims for Personal Independence Payments?
Face to Face Assessments
The Scottish Government remains committed to significantly reducing the proportion of people required to attend a face to face assessment. People will not be required to do so unless it is the only practicable way to make a decision about their entitlement.
When a face to face assessment is carried out, we will make sure the process is right for people. To deliver a successful disability assessment process we have considered what is needed from a social security system that ensures dignity and respect at every stage.
That is why we have decided that the private sector will not be involved in conducting assessments and Social Security Scotland will deliver assessments to determine eligibility for Disability Assistance, fully supported by public sector healthcare professionals. We want to ensure that people with disabilities can access a flexible, person centred assessment service across the length and breadth of the country and Social Security Scotland is best placed to do deliver that.
We want to provide an effective service and will manage performance, quality and outcomes. This approach will ensure that dignity and respect is embedded throughout, and that people can trust in the benefits system.
Currently, during face to face assessments the assessor can make what are referred to as "informal observations" about the individual they are assessing. Assessors can also draw inferences from the informal observations they make about the accuracy of what an individual has written in their self-assessment form. We have received feedback from experience panel members about the kind of informal observations made by assessors and the way they are used to discredit or undermine the information provided in self-assessment.
However, assessors can also make informal observations which can support the description individuals have given of how their condition affects them. The Scottish Government is considering whether clear guidance is required to ensure that informal observations are appropriate. We also propose that there should be transparency at the assessment when an observation is made and that an individual is given the opportunity to respond to this.
Question 54. What types of observations, as part of a face to face assessment, do you believe are inappropriate?
More choice when a face to face assessment is required
We have heard from many people about their dissatisfaction with the way in which assessments are currently organised including people who have had to travel for hours to get to assessments, those who are too ill to leave the house being refused home assessments and those who unavoidably miss their assessments being told they must start the entire application process again.
We are committed to providing home assessments when necessary. In considering when this is necessary we propose that this will not require confirmation from an individual's GP but it could be required as a result of mobility needs or because of the impact of certain conditions.
We propose that individuals are provided with choice and flexibility, taking into account the distances people are expected to travel and their location preferences, when they are invited to an assessment.
Question 55. In relation to assessments, what are your views on acceptable distances to travel?
Question 56. What other circumstances should the Agency take into account?
Whilst we will provide a choice of appointment we understand that people may not be able to make their chosen appointment time. In order for the Agency to provide an efficient assessment process that avoids delays for individuals, we will have to limit the number of times an individual can cancel or fails to attend an appointment unless this happens as a result of exceptional circumstances.
In circumstances where there are cancellations it may be helpful if these appointments are offered to other individuals. However, this may mean that the invitation is made at short notice. In these circumstances the individual would be able to refuse a short notice appointment with no detrimental impact.
Question 57. In relation to assessments, how many times to do you think an individual should be able to reschedule, or fail to attend, an appointment?
Question 58. In relation to a missed assessment, do you have any comments on what should amount to exceptional circumstances (e.g. hospital admissions)?
Face To Face Assessments Will Be Audio Recorded As Standard
We are aware that there is a lack of trust in the current assessment process which is exacerbated by a lack of transparency. We have therefore committed to introducing the audio recording of assessments as standard.
We want people to be confident in the knowledge that there is an accurate record of all that has been said during their assessment. Recording will also provide assessors with an additional tool that they can access when writing assessment reports, ensuring reports are an accurate reflection of the assessment. However, we also recognise that some people may not be comfortable with their assessment being recorded.
Question 59. Please provide any comments you wish to make about the audio recording of assessments.
It is our intention that a properly functioning assessment system, robust decision making and a thorough redetermination process will bring about a marked reduction in the number of decisions which are taken to appeal. We recognise however that in any social security system there will still be instances where individuals challenge the decision made about their entitlement and that they should be able to do so. We want to get appeals right, therefore it will be up to the tribunal whether they wish to consider the audio recording as part of their decision making process.
If a person chooses that their assessment should not be audio-recorded, only a copy of the assessment report will be sent to the tribunal.
As is current practice it is intended that a person would not qualify to receive assistance where they are:
- Already receiving an allocation of this form of assistance;
- Claiming the equivalent of this benefit elsewhere in the United Kingdom which would be defined as England, Wales and Northern Ireland;
- In receipt of another form of Disability Assistance;
- Under the age of 16 or over state pension age; and/or
- Subject to immigration control.