Mobility Descriptor 2 – Moving Around as Often As Needed to Live a ‘Normal Life’
The Upper Tribunal has recently made a decision (CPIP/3622/2016) about PIP mobility descriptor 2 – ‘moving around’. This change is important for people who can walk short distances but who can’t walk as often as they need to live a ‘normal life’.
Note that the UT made other important points in the same case, but BuDS is reporting these other points separately to make things simpler.
This is a complicated decision so this is a long post to try to explain the issues clearly.
PIP mobility descriptor 2 awards points if you cannot stand and then walk short distances safely, repeatedly, in a reasonable time, and to an acceptable standard. Look at www.pipinfo.net for full details of the descriptor.
In PIP, if you can’t walk a certain very short distances ‘repeatedly’ then you shouldn’t be assessed as being able to walk it at all.
‘Repeatedly’ is then further defined as meaning ‘as often as the activity being assessed is reasonably required to be completed’. So the question that needs to be asked is:
“What distance can the person walk not just once but as often as they are reasonably required to walk”?
DWP argue that people are only ‘reasonably required’ to do essential journeys, connected with their basic needs. Non-essential journeys, they argue, shouldn’t be taken into account when looking at how often a person needs to walk.
Two examples might help explain the issues. Note that I am ignoring speed, safety and acceptable standard in these examples, to keep them simpler.
Elle is a teenager with MS. She can walk 10 metres to the edge of her estate using crutches to meet her friends when they go by on their way to McDonalds, and then get back again. She can do this as often as she likes. Once a week, as a treat, she goes with her friends to McDonalds, which is another 15 metres away from her house. However, she can’t walk to McDonalds every time her friends go there, because the physical effort is too much.
Elle can certainly walk 20 metres repeatedly. Elle argues that, because she can’t get to McDonalds every time that she’d like to go, she can’t walk 50 metres repeatedly and should get standard mobility (20-50 metres, 8 points). But DWP argue that it is not ‘reasonably required’ for Elle to go to McDonalds more than once a week and the fact that she can get there once a week means she can walk 50 metres repeatedly. They refuse a mobility award, marking Elle as being able to walk 50 – 200 metres, 4 points.
Hanifa has chronic fatigue. She can walk 200 metres to and back from the shops twice a week but the effort and pain caused would then prevent her from walking more than a few steps again for that day. On days when she doesn’t go to the shops, she can walk up to 50 metres several times without exhausting herself completely.
Hanifa argues that she can’t walk 200m repeatedly because she can’t walk again the same day and that the correct award for her is 20-50 metres, 8 points, standard mobility. But DWP say it isn’t reasonably required for Hanifa to be able to walk again on the days that she goes to the shops. They assess her as being able to walk 200 m and award no points.
Tribunals have been grappling with this sort of case for ages. How often is walking ‘reasonably required’ for PIP? Is it the bare minimum amount of walking that a person absolutely needs to do for basic living, or something else? Now the Upper Tribunal has given a clear decision.
WHAT THE UPPER TRIBUNAL DECIDED
The Upper Tribunal has now said that, when deciding how often a person reasonably requires to walk around, assessors, the DWP and Tribunals
1. should NOT look at the bare minimum amount of walking that a person absolutely needs to do for basic living, 2. but rather use the ‘yardstick of a normal life’ and the activities that a person ‘would reasonably wish and need to do’ as part of that life.
The Upper Tribunal also said that wanting to walk further or more frequently should always be taken into account when assessing mobility unless that wish to walk is ‘inherently unreasonable’.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU
If your disability or medical condition is limiting the number of times you walk to places, then this decision will help you make a better case for getting mobility under PIP.
Look at the places you need and want to go to live an ordinary normal life, and how far away they are.
Can you walk to those places as often as you’d reasonably like to, to have an ordinary normal life? If you can’t, then you can’t walk those distances ‘repeatedly’ for the purposes of PIP.
What distance can you walk as often as you’d reasonably like to, to have an ordinary normal life? That’s the distance you should be assessed as being able to walk ‘repeatedly’ for PIP.
Let’s look at the examples above.
Elle wants to go with her friends to McDonalds more than once a week, but can’t walk that far that often. As a teenager, is it reasonable that she would want to do this as part of her normal life? Yes, it is. So it IS ‘reasonably required’ that Elle walks 50 m more than once a week. As she can’t, she can’t walk 50 metres repeatedly for the purposes of PIP and should earn 10 points under PIP mobility descriptor 2(d).
Hanifa can walk over 200 m but the effort and pain caused by walking then prevents her from walking again for that day. Is it reasonably required for Hanifa to be able to walk again that same day to live a normal life? Yes, it is. So Hanifa can’t walk 200 m repeatedly. She needs to be assessed on the distance she can walk without exhausting herself, which is 50 m.
It’s always difficult to say when Upper Tribunal decisions start being used in practice. The Upper Tribunal made this decision on 7 April 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/pm-v-secretary-of-state-for-work-and-pensions-pip-2017-ukut-154-aac