I sort of agree with everyone in some respects. But also disagree on some areas. The main area I think can be problematical for some people is that when you are clever, able to write and understand the rules of the benefit, you forget that the case manager (who completes the assessment of your case and provides a report for the DWP) and the decision maker (for the DWP), are not necessarily intuitive and able to make connections between individual Activities. You may find you are repeating yourself, but that might be necessary to make the CM and DM understand who you are, your disability and how it affects your daily life.
My way of doing it is to first get to know the points system. Using the Activities and Descriptors within each, try scoring yourself to see what you think you should have scored: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/Global/Migrated_Documents/adviceguide/pip-9-table-of-activities-descriptors-and-points.pdf You can also use the test Crazy Chick gave the link for to see how you should have scored.
Be honest, think about your worst day but don’t complete any form ‘as if it’s your worst day’ since with a fluctuating condition, chances are you’d be seen on a better day. (And thus look like you’ve either lied, or exaggerated.) As CC says, don’t forget the aids and adaptations you use.
Second, I too advise people to use https://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/ Joining Benefits And Work costs about £20 but it’s worth it for access to their excellent guides. In addition to this, if you are fairly new to benefits, try to get some help with the Mandatory Reconsideration and Appeal (if it comes to that). Try the CAB or any other welfare rights advisor local to you.
Ollie and Charlie are absolutely correct in advising you to think about ‘safely, reliably and repeatedly in a timely fashion’, with regard to every task - you need to be able to repeat it again without a long break/rest and to do it safely.
I do agree with PJday that the ability to drive can impact on the assessors views about how you can complete other tasks. I’m not saying this is right, or fair, just that it might seem reasonable. If you’re safe to drive an unadapted (albeit automatic) car, then your hands and legs could be seen as probably working just about OK for most everyday tasks. And if that isn’t correct, then you need to make that clear both on the forms you complete and in the evidence you provide.
Where Charlie says he disagrees with PJday, because PIP is supposed to allow disabled people some ‘independence’, that’s true. However, when claiming benefits you need to think the way a benefits assessor might. They look at each Activity and tick boxes, if you’ve not explained why you are able to do X but not Y, then they may consider that ability to do X means you are also able to do Y. Rationality needs to some extent to be parked some distance away from you with regard to benefits. Being smart and able to work with complexity does not mean the assessor can do the same.
I also disagree that the system is designed to reduce numbers on benefit. It is true that often people are refused benefit following assessment of their claim (partly due to the complexity of the benefit and the difficulty of explaining exactly how your MS affects you), but many, many people are awarded benefit at MR stage, and more still at Appeal. There are also plenty of people who are granted maximum benefit for both components for the maximum period of time ‘on the papers’ with no personal assessment being needed (both PJday and myself fall into this category).
I take the view that when you complete a benefit claim form, you have to answer each question as if you and the assessor are on the same side. Your job is to show the assessor exactly how you live and how you fit into their Activities. They don’t know you, so you have to take them by the hand (figuratively) and explain everything. If your right foot behaves well enough to drive an automatic car, but your left is useless, then explain that. If your hands are ok to drive, but you throw food all over yourself when trying to eat, then explain that. If you’re not capable of putting on your socks independently tell them that.
Then you need to supply evidence of everything you’ve said. And highlight which piece of evidence applies to each Activity / question (include a separate sheet of paper explaining what evidence you’ve provided and where this fits in the ‘picture of you’).
Best of luck. I hope the DWP decision maker can see that the assessment doesn’t reflect what you’ve written on the claim and provided evidence for. But if you are turned down completely, then definitely apply for Mandatory Reconsideration. You have one month in order to do this from the date of the decision letter. You might find as the clock starts ticking the minute you’ve asked for MR, that you are as well getting further evidence ASAP rather than phoning on the day you receive the letter. You should be able to get supporting letters from your MS nurse and anyone else you see from the NHS (physiotherapist, bowel and bladder nurse, OT, anyone else you see regularly). You may also have copies of relevant letters from your neurologist and/or other medical professionals. You can even provide letters from your partner, friends or anyone else who helps you with personal care.