Benefits and Work has been contacted by readers concerned that a claim this month by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) that Long Covid is not a disability would prevent future claims for PIP. Fortunately this is not the case.
EHRC tweet on Long Covid
On 7 May, EHRC tweeted that:
“Discussions continue on whether ‘long covid’ symptoms constitute a disability.
“Without case law or scientific consensus, EHRC does not recommend that ‘long covid’ be treated as a disability.
“More advice on reasonable adjustments can be found - https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/advice-and-guidance/what-are-reasonable-adjustments
A number of our readers emailed us to say they were worried that because the EHRC says Long Covid is not a disability the DWP would be able to argue that it was no longer grounds for a PIP award.
PIP claims for Long Covid
But the criteria for being awarded PIP are not based on a claimant being disabled. Instead, you need to show that you have a long-term health condition and that this affects your ability to manage everyday daily living tasks and/or your mobility.
Long-term for PIP means that your condition has lasted for at least three months and is likely to last at least another nine months.
But the question of whether people with Long Covid should be automatically listed as disabled for the purposes of the Equality Act, which is what the EHRC was addressing, is a separate one to whether you are entitled to PIP for Long Covid.
But such was the dismay caused by the EHRC’s tweet that they were forced to issue another statement in which they admitted that people with Long-Covid could be considered disabled for the purposes of the Act and should be provided with reasonable adjustments in the same way as other disabled people.
Their statement, issued on 9 May, explained:
"There continues to be discussion of the various symptoms related to Covid-19 that are often referred to as ‘long Covid’ and whether they would constitute a disability under the Equality Act.
“Given that ‘long Covid’ is not among the conditions listed in the Equality Act as ones which are automatically a disability, such as cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis, we cannot say that all cases of ‘long Covid’ will fall under the definition of disability in the Equality Act.
“This does not affect whether ‘long Covid’ might amount to a disability for any particular individual – it will do so if it has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. This will be determined by the employment tribunal or court considering any claim of disability discrimination.
“To support workers affected by ‘long Covid’ and avoid the risk of inadvertent discrimination, we would recommend that employers continue to follow existing guidance when considering reasonable adjustments for disabled people and access to flexible working, based on the circumstances of individual cases.”
This is not the first time recently that the EHRC has been considered to be acting in opposition to the interests of disabled claimants.
Just last month we revealed that the EHRC let the DWP off the hook by going back on its promise to investigate the department’s role in the deaths of vulnerable claimants.
Instead, the DWP have merely been asked to come up with some new policies and procedures.
It continues to be the case that people with Long Covid may well be entitled to PIP.
Some of the most common symptoms of Long Covid are
- extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- shortness of breath
- problems with memory and concentration ("brain fog")
- joint pain
These are issues that would be likely to lead to points being scored for PIP in relation to activities such as:
- Preparing food
- Managing therapy and monitoring a health condition
- Washing and bathing
- Dressing and undressing
- Engaging with others face-to-face
- Planning and following a journey
- Moving around
Our PIP for Long Covid resources
You can read more about PIP for Long Covid and the fact that many thousands of people are likely to be missing out on an award.
We have also updated our short introductory video about claiming PIP for Long Covid to take account of the April changes to PIP rates.
Benefits and Work members can download a 7-page, Long Covid PIP supplement, to be used in conjunction with our Guide to PIP Claims and Reviews.