PIP NEWS: MOBILITY GUIDANCE CHANGED
The DWP have also moved the goalposts for PIP mobility to make it much less likely that claimants with mental health conditions such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder or agoraphobia will qualify for any award at all if they are able to go out, provided they have someone with them.
Guidance issued to Atos and Capita at the end of May in the PIP Assessment Guide instructs health professionals that claimants who need accompanying by another person when following the route of a journey, because of a mental health condition, are covered solely by descriptor 11 (b). ‘Needs prompting to be able to undertake any journey to avoid overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant’.
This descriptor scores just 4 points, not enough for an award of PIP mobility to be made.
The higher scoring descriptors 11(d) and 11(f) will not be awarded ‘to claimants who require someone with them for support only, as this is covered by descriptor B. The accompanying person should be actively navigating.’ for these descriptors to apply.
We are now hearing in the forum from people who are being caught out by this changed interpretation of the law.
But the guidance appears to be at odds not only with the actual wording of the regulations, but also with detailed undertakings given by the DWP when they finalised the text of the PIP descriptors.
We have published a written submission in Word format in the PIP appeals section of the members area that anyone affected by these issues can make use of at appeal stage. It sets out the grounds on which we believe the guidance given to assessors is wrong and why relying on the assessment will lead the decision maker to commit an error of law.
Clearly we can’t guarantee that the submission’s conclusions will be accepted by any given tribunal. But they are definitely worth arguing and will at least give you the possibility of appealing to the upper tribunal and getting professional support via the legal aid scheme if you are unsuccessful.