Mobility Descriptor 1 – Distress & Anxiety (claims decided before 16 March 2017)
Mobility Descriptor 2 – Mental health experienced as physical impairment
Daily Living Descriptor 9 – Ability to claim alongside mobility descriptor 1
In decision CPIP/1347/2015 the Upper Tribunal, sitting as an ‘appeal’ three-judge panel, has completely reversed its own earlier decisions about the meaning of PIP Mobility Descriptors 1 and 2, and also Daily Living descriptor 9.
This is a very major change which potentially means that far more people with mental health conditions will be able to get an award of mobility under PIP.
MOBILITY DESCRIPTOR 1- PLANNING AND FOLLOWING JOURNEYS – PEOPLE WHO GET DISTRESSED OR LOST WHEN OUT
PIP descriptor 1d states that people who ‘cannot follow the route of an unfamiliar journey without another person, assistance dog or orientation aid’ score 10 points. PIP descriptor 1f states that people who ‘cannot follow the route of a familiar journey without another person, an assistance dog or an orientation aid’ score 12 points.
The Upper Tribunal has confirmed that PIP descriptors 1d and 1f DO apply to people who cannot follow the route of a journey because of overwhelming psychological distress which prevents them from navigating (ie finding their way) or making progress along the route without the help of another person. But the distress must be overwhelming and extreme – simple anxiety, even strong anxiety, is not enough. The person must be unable to navigate or proceed without help because of their extreme mental state.
The Upper Tribunal has also confirmed that PIP descriptors 1d and 1f do apply to people who get lost when out owing to a physical or mental health condition. In deciding this, the UT said that asking for directions is not included in the descriptor and so being able, or not being able, to ask for directions has to be disregarded when deciding whether a person qualifies under this descriptor.
MOBILITY DESCRIPTOR 1- UNDERTAKING A JOURNEY – PEOPLE WHO GET DISTRESSED BEFORE THEY GO OUT PIP
Descriptor 1 b states that a person who needs prompting to be able to undertake any journey to overcome their overwhelming psychological distress scores 4 points.
PIP Descriptor 1 e states that a person who cannot undertake any journey because it would cause them overwhelming psychological distress scores 10 points. The Upper Tribunal has said that descriptor 1 b applies to people who need prompting during a journey as well as people who need prompting before a journey. Previously it applied only to people who needed prompting before a journey.
The Upper Tribunal also said that , logically, a person who claims under 1e that they cannot undertake any journey at all owing to extreme distress before leaving cannot also claim under descriptor 1f, ie that they cannot follow a route owing to extreme distress. This is because, if they are unable to go out at all, they logically cannot claim problems when out.
MOBILITY DESCRIPTOR 2 – MOVING AROUND
The Upper Tribunal said that it was clear that mobility descriptor 1 is designed for people with mental health and sensory issues and mobility descriptor 2 is designed for people with physical impairments. Therefore, a physical inability to stand and then move is the starting point when looking at eligibility under mobility descriptor 2. However, (but see below) the Upper Tribunal also said that people who have symptoms arising from a mental health condition which are experienced as a physical impairment could potentially qualify for points under mobility descriptor 2.
This is a very important clarification as previously the DWP refused mobility descriptor 2 claims unless the person’s limitation in standing and moving arose from a physical health condition. However, the Upper Tribunal said that a person who could not undertake any journey because of overwhelming psychological distress (who would score 10 points under mobility descriptor 1e) could not also claim under mobility descriptor 2, because logically the fact that they do not undertake journeys means that they cannot claim physical problems when out.
DAILY LIVING DESCRIPTOR 9 – ENGAGING WITH PEOPLE FACE TO FACE
The Upper Tribunal said that people who needed support to undertake or follow journeys under mobility descriptor 1 could also claim points under daily living descriptor 9, if the facts of their case supported it. People were not automatically barred from claiming under both descriptors (as DWP had suggested) or automatically entitled to points under both. It was up to the facts of each case.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?
This is just the first look at how these changes will affect people, as this is a huge decision and will have many ramifications. If you get extremely distressed while out and about without someone with you, then you will find it easier to claim enhanced or standard mobility under 1d or 1f.
But you must be able to show that you do become really very distressed while out – just being anxious or very anxious is not enough. Evidence of your condition and how it affects you will be needed.
Your distress might be because of the stress of meeting others, or triggered by a small change eg as occurs for some autistic people.
If you do not get this stressed when out and about but do need someone with you to prompt you to continue your journey because of anxiety, you can now potentially claim 4 points under 1b. You could previously only claim under 1b if you needed prompting to go out, but now you can claim it if you can go out without prompting but need prompting while out and about.
If you get lost when out and about and need support from someone with you, then you will find it easier to claim enhanced or standard mobility under 1d or 1f. But you must be able to show that you do really get lost while out – just being uncertain or easily confused is not enough. Evidence of why you get lost will be needed. However, the fact that you can ask for directions can no longer be used to say you are not really lost, as the UT has said this is irrelevant.
This change will help people who have milder thinking or memory issues, such as those with dementia or learning disability, as well as those who become so stressed that they lose their ability to remember things. (NB anyone who successfully drives a car still will not be able to claim that they get lost when out and about!) If you have a physical problem in standing or walking which is caused only by your mental health condition, you can now claim under mobility descriptor 2 and, depending on how serious your physical problem is, get a standard or enhanced rate of mobility.
However, you will have to prove that you do have a physical problem with standing and moving and explain why it is caused by your mental health condition. This judgement may be very helpful for people who have chronic fatigue or chronic pain conditions. DWP has often dismissed these as ‘psychological’ and not really causing physical problems with standing or moving.
This judgement means that it doesn’t matter whether your condition is physical or mental health-related – it is the impact on your standing and walking that must be taken into account. Evidence again of how limited you are will be very important.
If you get stressed by meeting people face to face, you can now claim for this under both daily living descriptor 9 and mobility descriptor 1. You’ll still need good evidence of how stressed you become, and how much this limits you. Finally, people with agoraphobia or other mental health conditions which prevent them ever leaving the house, even if accompanied, are actually losers under this judgement.
This is because the UT has said that people who do not make journeys can’t claim for the theoretical problems they might have if taking a journey. This limits these people to the standard rate of mobility under mobility descriptor 1e (10 points).
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.
You can read the full judgement here: http://administrativeappeals.decisions.tribunals.gov.uk//Aspx/view.aspx?id=5018