Daily Living Descriptor 7 – Communicating using Words

The Upper Tribunal has recently made an important decision about PIP daily living descriptor 7 – ‘communicating verbally’ – ie communicating using words. This change is very important for deaf people or anyone who has difficulty in communicating because they cannot or do not speak or hear clearly. PIP descriptor 7 talks about ‘expressing and understanding verbal information’ and you can get points if you cannot do this or need help to do so safely, repeatedly, in a reasonable time, and to an acceptable standard. Look at www.pipinfo.net for full details of the descriptor.
 

WHAT THE UPPER TRIBUNAL DECIDED
The Upper Tribunal decided that: 1. Communicating using words by text or written means (writing notes, text messages, online messaging etc) does NOT count as communicating for the purposes of Descriptor 7. Only the spoken word is relevant for Descriptor 7. 2. The test of whether someone can communicate verbally has to be looked at in the context of normal daily life. Artificial or ‘sheltered’ versions of life shouldn’t be taken into account. 3. Communication verbally for the purposes of PIP is a two way process – ie both speaking AND understanding words
 

Additionally, while it’s not yet legally binding, the DWP accepted in the court that lip reading was too unreliable to be considered as a means of verbal communication for Descriptor 7.
 

To sum this up, what the Upper Tribunal has done is to say that the Descriptor 7 test ‘expressing and understanding verbal information’ actually means ‘expressing AND understanding SPOKEN and not written words in ordinary everyday situations, without using lip-reading’
 

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU
The Upper Tribunal has made the test of verbal communication in Descriptor 7 much more realistic. This makes it easier for people who have problems hearing or speaking words to get points.

You now need to be asking yourself the following question:
 

Can I express AND understand SPOKEN verbal information reliably, to an acceptable standard, and without taking twice as long as someone else in normal everyday situations, EXCLUDING anything written down and not taking lip-reading into account?
 

You have to be able to BOTH express and understand spoken verbal information to the test. If you can’t speak effectively in words, but can hear, then you don’t meet the test and should score points. Equally, if you can’t hear spoken words effectively but can speak in words, then you don’t meet the test and should score points. This is because the Upper Tribunal said that the test is about a two-way communication – expressing and understanding the spoken word.
 

Looking at your hearing or speech in artificial situations like quiet rooms or when you are talking to people who know you well is not acceptable. The test is how well you can hear and speak in ordinary places like shops, streets, offices, schools, pubs, etc and in ordinary conversations with people who are not specialists in communicating clearly.
 

If you lip-read, then you should look at how well you can understand spoken words without using lip-reading.

If you rely on writing to help you understand, for example reading things because you cannot hear, or writing things down because you cannot speak, then you should look at how well you can communicate using words and understand spoken words without using anything written down.
 

WHAT POINTS CAN I GET?
Remember that the questions below need to be answered thinking about conversations with ordinary people in ordinary everyday situations.
 

If you need to use an aid or appliance to express spoken words reliably, safely, to an acceptable standard and taking no more than twice as long as someone else, such as a larynx speaker, then that counts for 2 points. If you need to use an aid or appliance to understand spoken words reliably, safely, to an acceptable standard and taking no more than twice as long as someone else, such as a hearing aid, then that counts for 2 points. If you need the help of people who know you well or a specialist like a BSL signer to be able to express or say a complicated sentence (or two simple sentences) of spoken words reliably, safely, to an acceptable standard and taking no more than twice as long as someone else, then that counts for 4 points.

If you need the help of people who know you well or a specialist like a BSL signer to be able to understand a complicated sentence (or two simple sentences) of spoken words reliably, safely, to an acceptable standard and taking no more than twice as long as someone else, then that counts for 4 points.
If you need the help of people who know you well or a specialist like a BSL signer to be able to express or say a single simple sentence or a single spoken word reliably, safely, to an acceptable standard and taking no more than twice as long as someone else, then that counts for 8 points.

If you need the help of people who know you well or a specialist like a BSL signer to be able to understand a single simple sentence or a single spoken word reliably, safely, to an acceptable standard and taking no more than twice as long as someone else, then that counts for 8 points.
If, even with the help of people who know you well or a specialist like a BSL signer, you can’t express or say a single simple sentence or a single spoken word reliably, safely, to an acceptable standard and taking no more than twice as long as someone else, then that counts for 12 points If, even with the help of people who know you well or a specialist like a BSL signer, you can’t understand a single simple sentence or a single spoken word reliably, safely, to an acceptable standard and taking no more than twice as long as someone else, then that counts for 12 points
 

TIMING
It’s always difficult to say when Upper Tribunal decisions start being used in practice. The Upper Tribunal made this decision on 31 March 2017 so it’s safest to say that the meaning shown above can be used immediately in your claims, mandatory reconsiderations and appeals, but it may take some months before DWP and assessors catch up.
 

This analysis is brought to you free of charge by BuDS Benefit Information Team. It is only general information and you should take advice on your own case. If you value our entirely voluntary charitable work, please consider making a donation via https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/alexandermcpherson1
 

You can read the full judgement here: https://www.gov.uk/administrative-appeals-tribunal-decisions/eg-v-secretary-of-state-for-work-and-pensions-pip-2017-ukut-101-aac