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Wrong Definition of PIP descriptor 3 has been applied
Does this affect you ?

Hundreds of people might have had the wrong decision taken on the daily living part of their PIP claim in the past and can now ask for their claim to looked at again, following the DWP’s recent withdrawal of their appeal against an Upper Tribunal decision.

Following these legal changes, it’s clear that both DWP and Tribunals have applied the wrong definition of PIP Descriptor 3 from the date PIP started until 16 March 2017. So, many people could have lost out by being wrongly awarded – DWP think at least 1000 people have been affected but it could be many more.


Use this checklist to see if you could be affected:

1. If a decision was taken on your PIP claim* by DWP or a Tribunal before 16 March 2017, you ARE potentially affected. Remember to look at past claims too, whether they were accepted or refused. Go to Step 2. If your claim was decided by DWP or a Tribunal after 16 March 2017, you are NOT affected.

2. If you wanted PIP points in that past claim because you needed help at home with managing your medications, monitoring your health conditions, or receiving medical therapy, you ARE potentially affected. It doesn’t matter whether you were awarded points under PIP Descriptor 3 or not, as that decision might have been wrong. What matters is whether you wanted points.


Go to Step 3. If you did not want points under Descriptor 3 in that past claim, then you are NOT affected.

3. If, in that past claim, you needed HELP from another person at home with BOTH managing your medicines AND monitoring your health condition, then you have probably been given the wrong number of points under PIP Descriptor 3. See ‘more information’, below. If, on the other hand, you only needed help from another person at home with managing your medicines OR monitoring your health condition, one or the other, then you are NOT affected by this change. You also won’t be affected by this change if you used an aid to manage your medications, such as a dossett box, and needed help to monitor your health condition, as you need to have had help from another person with both activities.

*The date your claim was decided is written on your DWP decision letter or mandatory reconsideration notice. Look for a phrase like ‘On [DATE], I decided’ in DWP letters. If your claim was decided by a Tribunal, use the date of your Tribunal hearing, shown on the Decision Notice.


The Upper Tribunal decision means that, for claims decided before 16 March 2017 only, needing help from another person to manage your medicines AND monitor your health condition is regarded as needing help with *therapy* for the purposes of PIP. That means that you score 2 to 6 points under PIP Descriptor 3c, 3d or 3e depending on how long you need the help, rather than just 1 point under PIP Descriptor 3b(ii).

To repeat, you must need HELP from someone else for BOTH managing your medicines AND monitoring your health for that help to qualify as ‘help with therapy’. There are some notes below on what all these terms mean.

Points are awarded under PIP Descriptor 3c, 3d and 3e according to how long you need *help* with your therapy, not according to how long the therapy itself takes. So, say you are diabetic and needed prompting to take your insulin for 5 minutes twice every day, plus help to do blood tests and injections for 10 minutes three times a day. So the amount of help you get is 5+5+10+10+10 = 40 mins per day or 4.7 hours per week.


If, having followed the guidance above, you think your PIP claim was decided according to the wrong law (a ‘disputed claim’), you can ask the DWP to look again at your claim using the right law.

If the disputed claim has finished, maybe because it was time-limited, or you have been reassessed, you can still ask for your claim to be looked again. In these circumstances, your *current* PIP claim (if any) cannot be looked at again because you are not reporting any change to your current claim – you are only disputing a past claim.

If the disputed claim is still open, and you ask for it to be looked at again because it may have been assessed according to the wrong law, you should not need to have another face-to-face assessment or have the rest of your claim looked at again. You are not reporting a ‘change of circumstances’ – it is the law that has changed, not you. However, because DWP can decide to review any claim at any time, it is possible that asking DWP to look again at an open claim might trigger a complete review of your whole claim. You need to think about whether you want to take this risk.

Alternatively, you can wait for DWP to review your claim themselves. They say they have identified over 1000 claims that they will be looking at again. Obviously, this means trusting the DWP to do their job efficiently and fairly.


PIP Descriptor 3 awards points to people who need help at home with managing their medicines, monitoring their health conditions or managing their therapy. Descriptor 3 only applies to things done at home, not at a GP or hospital or anywhere else.

The help you need can be either an aid or appliance, or prompting, assistance or supervision from someone else. But remember, if you can manage your medicines, monitor your health or manage your therapy alone, without help or an aid, then you score nil points, however long it might take you or however complicated it is.

Monitoring your health condition means detecting significant changes to your health which could make your health worse, and then taking action advised by a health professional to prevent your health getting worse. Diabetic monitoring and giving an extra dose of insulin would count as monitoring health, as would taking your blood pressure and then taking another pill or lying down.

Therapy means something beneficial to your health prescribed by a medical professional to be done at home. Physiotherapy done at home is therapy, as is using a TENS machine or applying a non-medicated compression stocking for pain relief.

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 Government announcement about this issue at…/wri…/Commons/2018-06-15/HCWS767r

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