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      Group File 43  USe of SatNav

The Upper Tribunal recently confirmed again (CPIP/3759/2016) that a SatNav is NOT a ‘orientation aid’ for the purposes of PIP.

PIP mobility descriptor 1d and 1f award points if a person, for reasons other than psychological distress, cannot safely and reliably follow the route of an unfamiliar journey ON FOOT without another person, assistance dog or orientation aid. The issue is in this case was whether a SatNav used by a disabled person with a severe brain injury when walking out of doors was an orientation aid for the purposes of PIP.


The Upper Tribunal said that PIP Regulations define an ‘orientation aid’ as “a specialist aid designed to assist disabled people to follow a route safely”. The UT felt that a standard SatNav is not a specialist aid for disabled people, but an aid designed for everyone to use. They also felt that a standard SatNav is not designed to assist disabled people, but to assist anyone. For these two reasons, they decided that a SatNav is not an orientation aid for the purposes of PIP.

Using Google maps or similar on your handheld phone, which amount to a SatNav, also do not count as an orientation aid for PIP.

The UT has decided that the white sticks used by blind and VI people are orientation aids for PIP. DWP also accept that various hand-held sonar or beacon-tracking location devices designed for and used by some blind people are also orientation aids.

Remember, the PIP mobility descriptors apply to walking out of doors, not driving. Not being able to follow a route while driving does not count for PIP. In any case, being able to drive will disqualify you from claiming PIP mobility descriptor 1 points for not being able to plan or follow the route of a journey, because even basic driving requires a level of planning and navigation skill above the level of the PIP test.

This judgement says that SatNavs are not orientation aids for PIP. But that does not mean that SatNavs are completely irrelevant to PIP. If you cannot find your way to somewhere ON FOOT (either familiar or unfamiliar) because of a physical or sensory condition without using a SatNav or mobile, then that’s evidence that you cannot reliably navigate the route of a journey without help. The SatNav may be excluded as an aid in itself, but the fact you must use one can be argued as evidence that, without the SatNav, you’d need the help of another person. And needing the help of another person CAN earn points.


If you find yourself needing to use a SatNav or phone app to navigate because of a physical or sensory issue, you should think about whether you can claim PIP mobility 1 points because, without the SatNav, you’d need the help of another person to do that journey safely and reliably.

The Upper Tribunal made this decision on 6 December 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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