How Many Days?
The client's daughter explained that a hearing date had already been set for her dad's PIP appeal, in 10 days’ time on the other side of the country. She also explained that he had scored zero points and that he would not be attending the hearing. Always up for a challenge, a file was opened and it was agreed that their appeal bundle would be posted to us.
The client suffers with anxiety and depression, COPD, urinary urgency and sleep apnoea. We found that a lack of motivation was his main symptom and this was affecting preparing food, taking nutrition, washing and bathing, dressing and undressing, mixing with other people face-to-face and making budgeting decisions. We noted that the family put in place a hand rail by the toilets and we felt that we could justify this to the tribunal because of the combination of COPD and his urinary urgency. The client had been addicted to sleeping tablets, buying them online, and the GP advised the family to take control of his supply which although relevant, was not going to score more than 1 point and so not make a difference to the overall award, but it did illustrate the client’s difficulties. In terms of mobility, we felt that there were problems, in part because of his paranoia and so we looked for points under Planning and following journeys. His physical walking ability is limited by his COPD but 50 to 200 metres appeared to be the right assessment and this could only score 4 points under Moving around.
We went through the assessment report with the client's wife, who was with him on the day, and we were then in a position to put together a written submission for the tribunal. The first part of this explained what was wrong with the Department’s assessment of him and why the tribunal should not rely upon it. The second part explained in detail where he should have scored points and why, introducing references to the legislation, the PIP regulations and the Upper Tribunal case law that we felt was relevant. We took witness statements from the two daughters, one of whom was going to attend the hearing. Draft witness statements and the tribunal submission were emailed to the family and approved. We were able to email that submission to the tribunal office over the weekend, six days before the hearing; a bit tight but it was the best that could be achieved. The approved witness statements were sent as soon as they were ready and we took along signed copies on the day, in case the tribunal asked for them.
We met with the client's daughter on the afternoon of the hearing and she came across very well, as she had on the phone when taking her witness statement. She gave her evidence extremely well during the hearing and we felt that the tribunal had empathised with her, which never hurts. Despite the way the hearing had gone, it is never easy to achieve an award going in with zero points. There was an anxious wait while the tribunal reached their decision and we were glad that they were going to tell us on the day, rather than send us home to wait for it to arrive by post. We were delighted when they awarded him 13 points for the daily living component, giving him an award of enhanced rate. Their decision to award just four points for mobility was understandable in all the circumstances, as was their decision to make the award for three years. There was huge relief with the decision; the two daughters have been supporting their parents out of their earnings and this has clearly been a considerable struggle. The PIP award will help enormously there is also the possibility that her dad might now agree to make a claim for employment and support allowance, with a tribunal having accepted that he was affected by is conditions as he had described.
With the arrears dating from March 2018, they should be worth around £6,170, £250 of which had been paid before the hearing, and the arrangement was that the balance of the fixed fee would be paid from the arrears. If we have not been successful, then the balance would not have been payable.
How much notice do we need before a tribunal hearing? The least notice we have worked with was when instructed the day before the hearing. Coincidentally, the client could not attend that hearing either; it was his sister who came along to give evidence. Some midnight oil was burnt for that case, but the appeal was allowed, so all ended happily.