Update on disability payment processing times
Child Disability Payment was introduced across Scotland in November 2021, followed by Adult Disability Payment in August 2022. Although replacing disability benefits previously delivered through the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), they are new benefits with very different application and decision-making processes.
We worked with people who would be applying for these benefits to make it more straightforward for people to access the money they are entitled to. This included creating an application form that asks easy to understand questions and provides clear guidance on the information needed.
We do not carry out DWP style assessments, aiming to make the right decision based on the application and supporting information. When it is the only way to make a decision, people applying for Adult Disability Payment are invited to a consultation with one of our in-house health or social care professionals who treat them with compassion and start from a position of trust.
These differences mean people will have a very different experience as they apply, wait for a decision and interact with us while they have an ongoing award. No two applications are the same, and how long it takes to give people a decision will vary.
At the moment, some decisions are taking longer than we would like. In many cases, this is because people have been unable to provide the supporting information needed to make a decision and have asked us to gather it on their behalf.
Collecting this information on behalf of clients is a key difference between our system and the DWP. It can involve talking to the applicant, their doctor, a charity supporting them or a member of staff in their school. During the decision-making process, those managing their application may request advice from our in-house health and social care practitioners to ensure they have a full understanding of the impact conditions or disabilities can have on people.
While gathering information on behalf of clients takes time, it allows us to make robust decisions. It is particularly important for those who would be unable to gather this information on their own. If someone has supporting information available, we encourage them to provide it with their application, as this allows us to make robust decisions faster.
Often people have the supporting information we need to hand but do not realise it. Examples of supporting information are medical reports, a social care assessment, a prescription list or test results. Examples of supporting information are available on MyGov.Scot.
Improving processing times
We want to help people know what to expect when awaiting a decision on one of our disability payments. At the moment, the majority of people will receive a decision within four months, although processing times vary from a few weeks to over six months in more complex cases. Work is underway to speed up our processing times. This includes liaising with the organisations who most often provide us with supporting information to improve our systems and make decision-making more efficient. For example, we recently introduced an option for GPs to upload supporting information to us online.
We are also working with clients and stakeholders to ensure they understand the kind of information we need to make decisions. Where we are gathering supporting information on someone’s behalf and awaiting a response, we contact them to let them know about the wait and find out if there is any further information they might have to hand.
Since September 2018, we have taken on the administration of 12 benefits. As we learn and develop, outside of peaks in demand, we have seen processing times improve. This is something we expect to see across our disability benefits over the course of this year.
Providing decisions as quickly as possible remains a priority, while also ensuring we get decisions right first time. If eligible, we will always calculate the payment from the date that the person first applied. Although this may mean people sometimes need to wait a bit longer for a decision, we hope ultimately it will avoid the need for them to ask for a re-determination or to appeal.