Should i fight for higher rate mobility PIP?

Hi,

I've had severe anxiety when i go outside for well over a decade. It all started when i was working years ago but it made my ability to work impossible. In the end, i became agoraphobic and didn't leave the house for a year. Little by little i improved, but i've never become truly independent again and haven't worked since. 

My PIP reapplication was turned down but i gained it back in the mandatory reconsideration stage 3 weeks ago. I was awarded 10 points for 'planning and following a journey' and regained the standard mobility rate i was on before. I scored zero on the daily living, which i never expect to gain points on anyway.

My questions are: should i fight for higher rate mobility? And does PIP go towards car maintenance (e.g. repairs, tax, insurance etc)?

In the mandatory reconsideration, in the scoring categories, 'Mixing with other people', and 'moving around (more than 200 metres)', i scored zero points. In 'my decision'  part, it's brought back to my attention that i said i 'communicate via Skype with friends and family and thus am able to communicate with others without help'. My parents and sister live abroad. I live alone. I haven't seen them in person for 4 years. I have one friend: she is a woman in her 60s who was a teacher for one of the mental health groups i used to attend. We've remained friends since. All of this is despite me being one of the most popular kids at school and college. Unfortunately, with mental health issues you often struggle to partake in society, and i have moved many times over the years. My closest friends live about 5 hours away. I don't see how this is 'communicating with others without help'. My father had cancer and i wasn't able to visit him, my mum and sister have also been to hospital in the last few years too and i couldn't see them either. As for moving around 200 metres: i don't walk anywhere! Like, literally 20 to 30 metres (which they mention on form alongside, 'you can walk 200 metres'). The anxiety i feel is unbearable when i walk further and further from my 'safe space' (home or car). 

My attitude is always that i'd rather have something than nothing and i'd rather not have to keep attending assessments/tribunals. But, i also find i am far too positive on the forms and always give my 'best days' as an answer rather than my worst days. This is highly dependent on my stress/anxiety levels on the day. Recently, my sleep has been awful, i have terrible heartburn everyday (maybe stress?), my anxiety attacks have hit me at home as well as outside - something i said didn't really happen often - i find it uncomfortable to be in a cafe with my friend (somebody i'm usually 'okay' with)....

I can't go out without my car. I drive from A to B, then i park outside where i need to be, preferably no more than 10 metres walk to the door (e.g. cafe, restaurant, or friend's house). I have a blue badge for my car. I haven't walked through town or to town for 10 years. Having a car is incredibly expensive. I have had to buy two cars (one after the other) myself. I was only able to afford them by selling vast amounts of things on eBay: about £6000 worth (over about 10 years). Sure, maybe it did me a favour to declutter and whatnot, but presumably most people aren't expected to sell their belongings to live day to day? This doesn't bother me... but it does bring home to me just how expensive it is for me to live this way: i NEED a car to live, and yet i can only afford it by constantly selling things. In other words, my ESA and PIP doesn't allow me to run a car, but i can't live without a car. What happens when i run out of things to sell?

The friend i mention said she'd come with me to the tribunal this time if it gets that far (last time i went to a tribunal alone but wouldn't be able to mentally this time around). I have a few days to get the appeal back to them (within a month). 

If i'm advised that PIP isn't there to help pay for things like repairs etc on cars, only petrol. Then i'll leave it. If i'm advised it's there to 'facilitate mobility' or 'pay for the transport needs of an individual', then i'll likely appeal. I can't find this precise information anywhere.

Thanks for any help, and for reading!


Replies

  • edited 14 October at 8:50AM
    poppy12345poppy12345 Forumite
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    edited 14 October at 8:50AM
    Where exactly did you score points for in following and planning a journey, did you score them in 1D or 1E?
    The following and planning a journey descriptors apply to those with physical conditions and are unable to walk certain distances because of this. If you're claiming PIP purely for mental health reasons then the "moving around" part doesn't apply to you.
    Engaging with others face to face is part of the Daily living acitivies so scoring points here will not increase your mobility award. You say you don't qualify for any daily living award but do you fully understand the PIP descriptors and what they mean? Based on what you said here then i'd say you have very little understanding, which isn't unusual because a lot of people don't.
    There are 10 daily living activities and it sounds like you should have scored at least 4 points for engaging with others. What about washing/bathing, do you need prompting to be able to do this? Maybe you that sometimes you just don't feel like doing this because you don't have the motivation to be able to do it. Preparing a meal? Do you need prompting to be able to do this? Same for dressing/undressing?
    You can spend your PIP money on anything you want to, including your car, it's your money and not anyone else's. They don't and never have checked what you spend it on. The same applies for your ESA.
  • Spoonie_TurtleSpoonie_Turtle Forumite
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    For enhanced mobility, you would have to score 12 points from descriptor F, Cannot follow the route of a familiar journey without another person, an assistance dog or an orientation aid.

    So, if you theoretically had someone you are comfortable with to go with you, would you be able to go out more often?  (PIP is about the help you need, not whether your actually get that help or not.)  The assessment guide says "A claimant who suffers overwhelming psychological distress whilst on the familiar journey and who needs to be accompanied to overcome the overwhelming psychological distress may satisfy descriptor 1F."

    As poppy says, the moving around criteria are for physical conditions.  The Blue Badge being available for mental health conditions is a wider set of criteria than for PIP.

    Definitely have a read of the link poppy gave, that is absolutely the best starting point.  For every daily living activity, consider whether you ideally need someone to prompt or encourage you to do them - even dealing with money (especially bills).  Once you are familiar with the descriptors and understand how they are assessed, https://pipinfo.net/ is an excellent site if you are still unsure whether you should score under certain activities or not; it has links to case law which give a realistic insight into how the activities and effects of conditions are assessed under the law (not just DWP).  Every case is different of course but it gives an insight into his the facts are considered.  There is a section for anxiety, as well as a section for each activity. 

    What may be particularly relevant to you is the concept of reliably - can you reliably do things without having prompting/encouragement from someone else?  Or even alarms/reminders, if you are prone to forgetting. 

    If you think you maybe should score under a couple of other daily living activities (bringing your potential DL points up enough for an award) then it's worth really fighting for the points for engaging with other people.

  • edited 15 October at 12:10AM
    londonerryanlondonerryan Forumite
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    edited 15 October at 12:10AM
    Thanks for your replies.

    No, i really don't think i understand any of it. I read the forms, i fill them in, then i receive the usual replies telling me i can do X, Y and Z even though i stated throughout i can't.

    I have no idea where to counter or specifically what criteria i need to match, other than to counter what they have said about me.

    In terms of whether i need 'support' from another person, the answer would be no. I like to do things myself and be independent. It's a struggle, but being with another person wouldn't help me, it would probably stress me out more (as i try to repress my anxiety and thoughts, not discuss them openly). This is also why i don't like seeing doctors/psychologists etc. I did that for years and the only part i found helpful was when my helper initially physically walked with me out of my home - the first time i'd been out for a year. Basically, i have to go out whether i like it or not, or i get worse. So i need my car to get me out. Even when my car is being repaired - for example, when it had to be towed away for repair - my anxiety increases because i know my car isn't in my garage at home. When i go anywhere i plan to the journey meticulously so i know where i'm going, where i can park, how far from the door, and what the building looks like. 

    Maybe i'm on the 'wrong' benefit or maybe i'm not exactly entitled to higher rates due to my specific disability. For example, i have very intrusive thoughts which cause me a great deal of anxiety. Any time i try to mention such things at assessments, i'm told to pull back and concentrate on the question at hand. In the end, i never get to state how i don't like going out at very specific times (because of those thoughts), or how i often don't go shopping because of the anxiety, or how i aim to go to smaller shops as i don't go further from my car, or how if i feel anxious in my kitchen when cooking i'll stop and go to my bedroom... 

    I will have a look at the links provided above. 

    The mandatory reconsideration says i must reply within a month of the date on the letter, which was the 17th September. So i won't be able to get my reply back to them in time. If i call them, would they accept it will be delayed by a few days? If not, is it best to start again anyway if i choose to appeal? After all, this time around i didn't even fill out the living component part of the form. 

    Thanks. 
  • LippyDoodleLippyDoodle Forumite
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    I don't think you would qualify for the higher rate of PIP. 

    IAPT can help you with anxiety and agoraphobia. Not knowing where you are I can't give you the right link, but if you use this link it will help you find your nearest one. Or try googling yourself. 

    https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-psychological-therapies-service/
  • Spoonie_TurtleSpoonie_Turtle Forumite
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    Thanks for your replies.

    No, i really don't think i understand any of it. I read the forms, i fill them in, then i receive the usual replies telling me i can do X, Y and Z even though i stated throughout i can't.

    I have no idea where to counter or specifically what criteria i need to match, other than to counter what they have said about me.

    In terms of whether i need 'support' from another person, the answer would be no. I like to do things myself and be independent. It's a struggle, but being with another person wouldn't help me, it would probably stress me out more (as i try to repress my anxiety and thoughts, not discuss them openly). This is also why i don't like seeing doctors/psychologists etc. I did that for years and the only part i found helpful was when my helper initially physically walked with me out of my home - the first time i'd been out for a year. Basically, i have to go out whether i like it or not, or i get worse. So i need my car to get me out. Even when my car is being repaired - for example, when it had to be towed away for repair - my anxiety increases because i know my car isn't in my garage at home. When i go anywhere i plan to the journey meticulously so i know where i'm going, where i can park, how far from the door, and what the building looks like. 

    Maybe i'm on the 'wrong' benefit or maybe i'm not exactly entitled to higher rates due to my specific disability. For example, i have very intrusive thoughts which cause me a great deal of anxiety. Any time i try to mention such things at assessments, i'm told to pull back and concentrate on the question at hand. In the end, i never get to state how i don't like going out at very specific times (because of those thoughts), or how i often don't go shopping because of the anxiety, or how i aim to go to smaller shops as i don't go further from my car, or how if i feel anxious in my kitchen when cooking i'll stop and go to my bedroom... 

    I will have a look at the links provided above. 

    The mandatory reconsideration says i must reply within a month of the date on the letter, which was the 17th September. So i won't be able to get my reply back to them in time. If i call them, would they accept it will be delayed by a few days? If not, is it best to start again anyway if i choose to appeal? After all, this time around i didn't even fill out the living component part of the form. 

    Thanks. 
    That sounds incredibly difficult to live with, and unfortunately will make it impossible to get the right level of benefits if you are unable to communicate your difficulties to them.

    In terms of having someone with you, would having someone literally as a physical presence help you to go out, without having to discuss or work through your thoughts?  If not, then I think you've probably had the right decision in terms of mobility.

    It really sounds like daily living is affected and you should be entitled to some points if you can't complete activities reliably.  But to get those points, you need to communicate your difficulties. 

    Are you able to communicate more in writing than speaking?  Is it any easier (writing or speaking) if you're not face-to-face?  Like here, you've mentioned some things (obviously without specifics) which is a great start but to get the right decision for PIP you will probably have to tell them specifics.  If you could do that in writing as a submission for tribunal (although I know writing with anxiety can be excruciating as well - it's so difficult not to over-analyse every word) you might stand at least some chance, if you also explain why you can't actually properly talk about your difficulties in person.

    My heart goes out to you; I wish suggesting help would be, erm, helpful but the only assistance I can think that might actually help would be if you could discuss it over e-mail, and I don't know if anywhere like the CAB would offer it.  It could be worth asking though, specifying that in-person or over the phone wouldn't actually help you.

    I don't know the answer to your question about timing but hopefully someone else will.  There would be no point applying again anyway until you understand the descriptors and how they are assessed though.
  • poppy12345poppy12345 Forumite
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    It doesn't sound like to me that you would qualify for Enhanced mobility for following and planning a journey and moving around part doesn't apply to you.
    As regards to times for the MR, they tell you, you have 1 month but you actually have 13 months, with good reason. If DWP refuse your reason and the decision remains the same then request the Tribunal.
    Have you taken some time to read the link i posted above? if you haven't then please do have a read. It really is a good guide to read and will hopefully help you understand a little more.
    I know it's never easy talking about our conditions and how they affect us but in terms of benefits then you really need to do this.
    There's a lot of people that go through their daily life and manage the best way they can because they have no option but to do this, it becomes our way of life. We often don't realise how much we struggle until we put it down on paper but finding those words and writing them, isn't easy.
    It's difficult to advise whether you would be entitled to any daily living part without knowing exactly how your conditions affect you.
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