top of page

(Group File 33) (CPIP/3739/2016) UT decision Learning                                           Difficulties desc 1.

The Upper Tribunal has recently made a decision (CPIP/3739/2016) which could help people with learning difficulties claim points under PIP Descriptor 1.

PIP Descriptor 1 says that people who need supervision or assistance to prepare or cook a simple meal can claim 4 points. In this case, the claimant had learning difficulties, couldn’t read or understand numbers and had been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. In the First-Tier Tribunal, he was awarded 4 points under PIP Descriptor 1. This was because he needed help to cook a simple meal as he couldn’t read instructions for cooking, read the numbers on a cooker, set temperatures or know how long to cook for, without someone else helping him.

The Upper Tribunal was considering whether the claimant needed assistance in the cooking process. The DWP said that not being able to read and understand numbers doesn’t matter under PIP Descriptor 1 because cooking is “often a sensory and instinctive act” and you don’t need to read anything for most of the time while cooking. In other words, the DWP said that it is possible to see when a pan of water is boiling or when chicken is cooked by checking the colour of the juices, without being able to read or understand numbers.

The Upper Tribunal decided that, when considering an “intellectual deficit”, everything will depend on the individual claimant’s circumstances and difficulties. The Tribunal said that some people who can’t tell the time, use timers or read will still be able to cook simple meals to a good enough standard by noticing changes in the food’s appearance, smell, texture or taste during the cooking process, for instance. Or a person might not know how long to cook food for at first, but can remember the information after they cook that food once.

But the Upper Tribunal recognised that there may be people with learning difficulties who cannot do these things. In those cases, the claimant may be able to claim points under PIP Descriptor 1(e) (needing supervision or assistance to prepare or cook a simple meal).

This decision makes it clear that learning difficulties, including not being able to read or understand numbers, are relevant to PIP Descriptor 1 on preparing a simple meal. Everything will depend on your individual circumstances and how your learning difficulties affect you in the cooking process.

When claiming PIP points on preparing food, it might be useful to say how your learning difficulties affect you in the cooking process. Learning difficulties will *not* automatically mean you will get PIP points on preparing food. However, if you can’t tell when food is cooked because of your learning difficulties or find it hard to prepare and cook food because of your learning difficulties, it might be useful to: (1) explain the difficulties and (2) say that, because of these difficulties, you can’t prepare or cook a simple meal without help (including explaining) from someone else or without someone watching you cooking the whole time.

Note that if you need help to prepare or cook something harder than a *simple* meal (a cooked one-course meal for one, using fresh ingredients, such as a fry-up), then that doesn’t count towards PIP Descriptor 9.

The Upper Tribunal made this decision on 29 June 2017 but it’s a clarification of the law rather than a new definition. This means that this decision applies straightaway to your claim, mandatory reconsiderations and appeals, whenever the case was decided. It may take some months before DWP and assessors catch up with this decision, however.


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

You can read the full judgement here:

 ©A1 ESA/DLA/PIP Benefits Help and Support (UK only)

bottom of page