Decision makers have been provided with new guidance on the PIP mobility component this week. This follows the issuing of new guidance to PIP assessors and the announcement by the government that a review of PIP claims has begun following a victory by claimants in the case known as MH.
In March 2017 the DWP changed the law relating to the PIP mobility component in order to make it harder for claimants who have difficulty going out because of overwhelming psychological distress to get an award.
The changes, which relate to the Planning and following journeys activity were ruled unlawful by the courts and, in January 2018, the DWP admitted defeat and dropped their appeal against the decision.
In addition, further changes were made to the law in a case known as RJ which interpreted the law relating to safety and supervision in a way which is more favourable to claimants.
The new guidance sets out the major changes to the law on mobility which decision makers should take into account.
Decision makers have been told the following:
Follow the route” (in 1d and 1f) is not restricted to navigation only; it means making one’s way along a route or going along a route safely.
Previous to MH descriptors 1d and 1f were restricted to navigation only, so problems with psychological distress were not considered. Previous to RJ the problems with following the route had to manifest on the majority of days, but post-RJ one has to apply the RJ decision of how safely is to be assessed.
A claimant who suffers overwhelming psychological distress whilst on the journey and who needs to be accompanied to overcome the overwhelming psychological distress may satisfy descriptor 1d or 1f. PreMH this person could only satisfy 1b. Previous to RJ the problems with following the route had to manifest on the majority of days, but post-RJ one has to apply the RJ decision of how safely is to be assessed.
Descriptor 1b is relevant where a claimant needs prompting to overcome overwhelming psychological distress when setting off on the journey. As someone who needs another person when travelling along a route would satisfy 1d or 1f, descriptor 1b only applies in practice in the circumstance where someone needs prompting to set off on the journey (but would not need another person whilst on the journey itself). Pre-MH someone in this position would have satisfied descriptor 1b also.
Distress or anxiety short of overwhelming psychological distress is not enough to bring a claimant within descriptor 1d or 1f. The tribunal stated that “Although regulation 4(2A) applies so that the question is whether, if unaccompanied, the claimant can follow a route safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly and within a reasonable time period, the fact that a claimant suffers psychological distress that is less than overwhelming does not mean that the claimant is not following the route safely and to an acceptable standard. The threshold is a very high one. Thus, the facts that the claimant was “anxious” and “worried”…and was “emotional”…were not sufficient for those claimants to satisfy the terms of descriptors 1d or 1f because they could in fact complete journeys unaccompanied without being overwhelmed”. Although pre-MH overwhelming psychological distress is not a factor for 1d and 1f (as this is only taken into account for 1b and 1e), the high threshold definition is in line with the term ‘overwhelming’ so should be applied to the pre-MH period and onwards.
The detailed guidance for decision makers also contains examples of how to apply the law. You can read more about the dates that the different decisions have to be applied from in this article: Three different decisions may have to be made on the same PIP mobility claim
You can download the guidance on PIP mobility ADM memo 16/18: PIP mobility activity 1, effect of Upper Tribunal decision MH v SSWP (PIP)  UKUT 531(AAC) from this page