University student successfully appeals for personal independence payment following motorcycle accident

Our Pro Bono team successfully assisted our client BM after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) failed to award him the increased Personal Independence Payment (PIP) rate.

BM suffered a serious injury to the brachial plexus nerve in his right arm following a motorcycle accident in 2015. This injury made it increasingly difficult to perform daily tasks. BM was also managing a mental health disorder.

How PIP claims are assessed

The PIP is made up of two components: activities of daily living and mobility activities. To qualify for PIP, a person must be affected by a physical or mental condition that limits their ability to perform some or all of the typical activities of daily living and mobility. To determine entitlement to components of daily living and mobility, an independent medical professional will assess the applicant on their ability to perform a number of key daily activities, “scoring” them to determine the rate of PIP to which it is eligible.

The standard PIP rate is paid if a person’s ability to carry out activities is deemed to be “limited” and they score between 8 and 11 points. The applicant may receive a higher rate if their ability to carry out activities is deemed severely limited and they score 12 or more points.

The DWP’s list of 10 Activities of Daily Living to be assessed includes the ability to prepare food, communicate verbally, and make budget decisions as well as two mobility activities such as getting around and planning or following directions. The assessor will measure the candidate’s ability to complete each activity against statements called descriptors, which describe what a person can or cannot do. The assessee must be able to perform the activity safely to an acceptable standard as often as reasonably necessary and within a reasonable time frame.

BM’s call

BM initially obtained the standard rate of PIP in April 2022. We supported it with a request for a reconsideration of its situation, also known as a mandatory reconsideration. The DWP maintained its position and relied on BM’s presence at the university to challenge any argument that he had difficulty engaging with others and was unable to communicate verbally without prompting from others. .

BM then appealed to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal of the HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS). In this process, the DWP and the claimant present arguments before the court decides whether to uphold the award.

During his childhood, BM was diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), which is now considered a mental health issue. This condition affects the person’s attachment to others and their ability to maintain good, meaningful relationships. Throughout the PIP evaluation process, BM maintained that the difficulties associated with RAD had been overlooked by the DWP and that his need for supervision or assistance from others in performing simple daily tasks had not not been explored.

In support of his appeal, BM provided medical evidence to the court regarding the additional support he receives to perform at a similar level to his peers. The pro bono team also supported BM and his mother with a statement to read in front of the panel to ensure he was confident and prepared for the hearing.

The result

BM’s appeal to court in October 2022 was successful. The panel agreed that the ongoing pain and stress caused by his injuries exacerbated the symptoms of his mental disorder. This outcome was a relief for BM and his mother, and they are now seeking additional support from a counselor to help BM manage his life with a life-changing injury.

Paralegal Shanice Browne contributed to this article


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Elaine R. Knight