PIP Appeal in Leicester
The DWP accepted that Sally could make no use of her left arm, that she had no movement in the arm or ability to grip. In spite of this, they awarded her just 6 points for the daily living component and there were no points for the activity of Washing and bathing.
It seemed pretty clear to us that a person who can make no use of their left arm cannot wash their right arm without help (you try it). The descriptor 4(f) reads, “Needs assistance to be able to wash their body between the shoulders and waist”.
Sally’s right arm came within that area, which is why we wanted 4 points for Washing and bathing. You might initially think of her scoring 2 points for the need to use an aid; or, 3 points for needing help to get in or out of a standard bath, but regulation 7 says that where two or more descriptors apply to a claimant, then the higher or highest descriptor should be scored. Sally had sensibly thought about getting a report from an occupational therapist, and to avoid the wait for the local authority to do this, she approached a private OT service at a cost of about £250. The report made no mention of PIP as the reason for their assessment, which added to its value, in my view. We regularly see references to PIP claims and appeals in GP records and we can see why these take away from the weight given to the doctor’s evidence. There is probably a concern that the doctor might give in to pressure from their patient.
The private occupational therapist tested Sally’s left arm and the report confirmed that there was no sensation in the lower arm. We explained in our written submission to the tribunal that scars on Sally’s left arm had been caused by splashes, burns and scalds which she had been unaware of at the time, and the OT report helpfully referred to those scars.
The tribunal judge explained at the start of the hearing that our submission and supporting evidence had persuaded them that Sally should have qualified for the standard rate of the daily living component but that since we wanted an award of the enhanced rate, the hearing would go ahead and they would hear oral evidence from her. Sally did very well and her evidence was consistent with what was in our submission; clients are asked to comment on their submission before it goes off to the tribunal but the stress of a hearing can have strange effects. Her evidence, together with the medical evidence already sent in and the occupational therapy report persuaded the tribunal that Sally reasonably required supervision to be able to prepare and cook a simple meal, increasing her score for Preparing food from the 2 points awarded by the DWP to 4 points. It is worth noting that the legislation defines
“supervision” as meaning “the continuous presence of another person for the purpose of ensuring the claimant’s safety”. These additional 2 points, and the 4 points for Washing & bathing, took Sally to the 12 points she needed for the enhanced rate.
Sally’s arrears from her appeal amounted to around £5,300 but it would have been better if more common sense had been applied and the 12 points had been recommended by the assessor, or awarded by the first decision maker or the decision maker who carried out the reconsideration, or even the Officer who put together the appeal papers.
At least justice was done in the end.