PIP Mobility (Part one: Following a Route)
The Upper Tribunal has made a important judgement rejecting a DWP ‘shortcut’ rule for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) about
DWP have written a long guide for the ATOS or Capita healthcare professionals who assess people for PIP. In this guide, the DWP sets out easy tests that their assessors can do quickly to see whether claimants meet the legal rules. But, because DWP isn’t very good at their job, many of these ‘shortcut’ tests are legally wrong because they don’t follow the actual law. In this Upper Tribunal case, the judge said that one shortcut test in the DWP Assessment Guide about mobility is definitely wrong.
THE PIP TEST
PIP mobility has two parts – one about whether you can plan a journey or follow a route to somewhere, and one about how far you can physically walk. This case was about the first part, about people following a route. The law says that if, on your own, you can’t safely and reliably follow a route to somewhere you don’t know, you are entitled to a standard mobility award. For example, you might have such a bad panic attack when outside on your own that you stop being able to find your way about safely. (Or you might be blind, or have serious learning disability, or dementia).
This is quite a complicated rule and so DWP tried to make it quicker for assessors to use. One of the shortcut tests that DWP came up with was that ‘people who are able to use public transport on their own can follow a route to somewhere new’. This shortcut rule meant that assessors would decide that anyone who used public transport like buses or trains on their own was able to go to new places on their own.
In this Upper Tribunal case, the judge looked at the DWP shortcut rule and pointed out that the law doesn’t mention public transport at all. The legal test is just about whether, on your own, you can safely and reliably follow a route to somewhere you don’t know. So, the judge said, the DWP Assessment Guide for this test is wrong and assessors shouldn’t use it.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?
If the assessor who did your PIP assessment asked about whether you use public transport, they MAY have made the wrong decision in your case. Whether you can use public transport is important as part of a wider look at how you can travel about on your own, of course, so the fact that the assessor asked about public transport doesn’t automatically mean they made the wrong decision. What you need to be careful about, however, is whether the assessor has used the unlawful shortcut rule about public transport to stop you receiving the mobility part of PIP.
You should look at your PIP assessment report (PA4) to see what the assessor has done, and at your PIP award letter (the letter DWP sent you telling you about whether you have got PIP or not). If you’re not sure, talk to a benefits advisor.
If you think DWP have used the wrong legal test, you can ask them to look again at their decision (a mandatory reconsideration) and then appeal to the independent Tribunal. You can appeal to the Tribunal up to 13 months after DWP have decided your claim, even if DWP refuse to do a late mandatory reconsideration. The case number was CPIP/2614/2018.
A WORD OF WARNING
A lot of dodgy advice services, especially those that charge a fee, will use mainly the DWP assessment guide to tell you how to apply or appeal. That’s because it’s easier to understand than the legal tests and because they think that using the DWP’s own document will make their case stronger. But the Guide is wrong in lots of ways and uses tests which make it less likely you can get PIP. Also, if you go to a Tribunal, the panel won’t be impressed by arguments using the assessment guide, because they apply the law. If you get advice, make sure your advisor is using the legal tests and not just the assessment guide shortcut tests.
This information is free-of-charge from the BuDS Benefit Information Project for all disabled people. It is only general guidance and you should take advice on your own claim. Please feel free to share this information but, if you do share it, the whole post should be shared unchanged and BuDS must be given credit. Editing this post and passing it off as your own work is a breach of copyright and BuDS may take legal action against you.