PIP and no hearing

My daughter was recently awarded 8 points for communication. No consideration was given for mixing with people and support needed for work and mixing with people. Is it worth appealing. Any advice please. Thanks
  • This is something that has not been properly worked out. The assessors have tended to say that if someone satisfies the conditions in descriptor 7 Communicating then they can't also claim under descriptor 9 because that would be the same evidence used twice. They have tended to rubber-stamp this decision and hope that people will not bother to claim it. Earlier this year there was a court case to decide exactly what the difference is and what is allowed. This should make it easier for deaf people to claim both as the judge has defined what conditions satisfy the different descriptors. All you have to do is make sure you describe those conditions correctly.

    I can't say whether to appeal but based on this case there is a good chance of getting the extra benefit. Although the DWP try to put people off by saying that the benefit might be reduced I can't see how they can suddenly decide that someone is no longer deaf in the face of all the evidence!

    CPIP/2559/2015: Overlap between descriptor 7 (communicating verbally) and descriptor (engaging with other people)?
    Upper Tribunal Judge: Rowley

    The claimant had permanent and severe bilateral hearing loss. She lip-read and wore bilateral hearing aids. Her application for PIP was refused as the decision maker having awarded only 6 points (4 points under descriptor 7c (“needs communication support to be able to express or understand complex verbal information”), and 2 points under descriptor 9b (“needs prompting to be able to engage with other people”)).

    The claimant appealed arguing that she satisfied descriptor 9c (“needs social support to be able to engage with other people”).

    However, the tribunal refused the appeal and confirmed the point awarded by the decision maker and she appealed to the Upper Tribunal.

    Activities 7 and 9 are as follows:

    Column 1
    Activity
    Column 2
    Descriptors
    Column 3
    Points
    7. Communicating verbally
    a. Can express and understand verbal information unaided.
    0

    b. Needs to use an aid or appliance to be able to speak or hear.
    2

    c. Needs communication support to be able to express or understand complex verbal information.
    4

    d. Needs communication support to be able to express or understand basic verbal information.
    8

    e. Cannot express or understand verbal information at all even with communication support.
    12
    “Communication support” means “support from a person trained or experienced in communicating with people with specific communication needs, including interpreting verbal information into a non-verbal form and vice versa” (paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Regulations).

    Column 1
    Activity
    Column 2
    Descriptors
    Column 3
    Points
    9. Engaging with other people face to face
    a. Can engage with other people unaided
    0

    b. Needs prompting to be able to engage with other people.
    2

    c. Needs social support to be able to engage with other people
    4

    d. Cannot engage with other people due to such engagement causing either-
    (i) overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant; or
    (ii) the claimant to exhibit behaviour which would result in a substantial risk of harm to the claimant or another person.

    8
    Paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Regulations contains some relevant definitions:

    “Engage socially” means: “(a) interact with others in a contextually and socially appropriate manner; (b) understand body language; and (c) establish relationships.”

    “Prompting” means: “reminding, encouraging or explaining by another person.”

    “Social support” means: “support from a person trained or experienced in assisting people to engage in social situations.”

    In considering this Judge Rowley holds that there is no limit to the type of impairment which limits a person’s ability to engage with other people face to face:

    “Thus, for example, activity 9 may fall to be considered in respect of a claimant whose physical impairment (hearing loss) causes communication difficulties, and who is, as a result, anxious about meeting other people and being in social situations. In general terms, those were the circumstances in this case.”

    He then considers the issue of what, if any, is the overlap between descriptors 7 and 9?

    Judge Rowley holds that:

    “There is nothing in the legislation to suggest that an individual who is having difficulty when in conversation with others, and who is simultaneously “communicating verbally” and “engaging with others face to face”, is unable to score under both activity 7 and activity 9. In each case the decision maker or tribunal will have to investigate the nature and occurrences of the difficulties in order to establish the difference.”

    He also confirms that there is no limit to the type of impairment which limits a person’s ability to engage with other people face to face.

    However he adds that there is no ‘automatic’ link between scoring under descriptor 7c and descriptor 9c:

    “A claimant will not necessarily always score under 9c as a result of scoring under 7c. Nonetheless, scoring under activity 7c is capable of being relevant to scoring under 9c. An individual who needs “communication support” may well need “social support” to engage face to face. But not always.

    By way of example, a claimant may be a deaf person who needs a sign language interpreter with them in order to communicate. They accordingly need “communication support” under activity 7. However, they are completely comfortable in a social environment, and are able to make friends and lead an active social life. They do not satisfy 9c, for they are able to engage with others more than adequately. Indeed, they would not score any points under activity 9. The fact that they need someone to provide “communication support” does not mean that the other person is necessarily providing support with “engagement.” Rather, that person is purely helping with the ability to “communicate verbally.”

    But in allowing the claimant’s appeal he finds that on any view the she did not fall into that category:

    “Her case was that she found social situations very difficult, as there was usually more than one person and there was a lot of background noise. Indeed the Health Professional, having recorded that social situations could be difficult due to background noise, and this could be very stressful, stated that “this is supported with the informal observations of the face to face consultation.”

    So while the tribunal’s finding that she satisfied descriptor 7c did not ‘automatically’ lead to the conclusion that she also satisfied descriptor 9c, Judge Rowley finds that it was incumbent on the tribunal to consider whether descriptor 9c applied, and to give adequate reasons for its decision.

    He concludes that it did not give adequate reasons as the tribunal failed properly to tackle the issue of whether the claimant in than one person or if there was background noise (common social particular those people whom she did not know well, especially in groups of more occurrences). The tribunal should have investigated the nature of the support that was needed by the claimant from her friends or family such situations, and determined whether or not that amounted to “social support.”