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Group File 40 CPIP/1998/2017) Descriptor 7

The Upper Tribunal recently made a decision (CPIP/1998/2017) that makes it much harder for claimants with anxiety to claim under PIP Descriptor 7.

The claimant had severe anxiety which badly affected him when speaking to people. A Tribunal awarded him 4 points under PIP descriptor 7c (needs communication support to be able to express or understand complex verbal information) and 4 points for descriptor 9c (needs social support to be able to engage with other people). The DWP appealed to the Upper Tribunal about his award under descriptor 7.

The issue in this case was whether anxiety which affects your ability to speak to another person is eligible for points under descriptor 7.

The Upper Tribunal said that if a person is scared or anxious about talking to other people, that was fundamentally a problem of social engagement, not speaking or communicating. So, points should NOT be awarded under Descriptor 7 if a person is scared or anxious about talking to other people. The UT did think points could be awarded under Descriptor 9, for social engagement, though.

The UT said that anxiety in speaking could only earn points if the person was anxious about the act of speaking itself, not just speaking to other people. So, a person with mutism, or who was scared of the sound of their own voice, could still earn points under Descriptor 7, because they have that problem regardless of whether they spoke to someone or to themselves. Such people could of course potentially claim under Descriptor 7 and 9 if they also had problems engaging with other people.

The Upper Tribunal made this decision on 16 November 2017 but it’s a clarification of the law rather than a new definition. This means that this decision applies straightaway to all claims, mandatory reconsiderations and appeals.


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You can read the full judgement here:…/secretary-of-state-for-work-and-pensio…

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

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