A significant new legal judgment holds that while someone may ‘push through pain’ in order to continue walking this does not mean that they are walking to an “acceptable standard” for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) purposes.
The new judgment means that consideration should not only be given to whether a disabled claimant can reliably walk up to 20 metres or 50 metres in total.
In addition, consideration should also be given to whether they are walking through pain before reaching 20 metres or 50 metres.
In CPIP/665/2016, Upper Tribunal Judge Markus rejects the Secretary of State’s submission that if pain was not significant enough to prevent someone walking it is only at the stopping point at which the pain meant that walking was to an unacceptable standard.
While Judge Markus finds that while the appellant in this case had not succeeded in showing that he could not walk over 50 metres repeatedly or within a reasonable time period:
“… he said that he did so in considerable pain … and that he would rather push through the pain in order to stay as active and independent as possible.
The tribunal was wrong not to consider what the impact of pain was on the appellant’s ability to mobilise the distance found to an acceptable standard.”
Two years ago Jo Milne became an internet sensation when footage of her hearing for the first time appeared on YouTube. Since then she has rekindled a long-lost friendship, enlisted the support of 1970s pop group The Osmonds and travelled to Bangladesh to help hundreds of deaf children.
More than 10m people shared the moment when Jo Milne, who was born deaf, heard for the first time at the age of 39. She had been fitted with cochlear implants and the footage of her tears of joy on hearing a nurse read to her went viral.
Amid the flood of well-wishers was a long-lost friend – Amina Khan.
Jo had known her since she was 11 but, when Amina married at 16 and moved away to Bangladesh, the pair lost touch.
They had formed a close bond because they were both “different”, Amina said. Her family was the only Asian one on their Gateshead estate and Jo was deaf.
“It was a special bond because we were different and there was a little bit of bullying going on,” she said. “It was always a warm and friendly place, but there were some spiteful kids.
“But we were so close we didn’t even realise. We were in our own little world.”
They had plans for their future, too.
“As we were growing up we always used to say to each other that one day we would try to help the poor children of Bangladesh,” said Amina.
Support for the pair’s plans came from an unlikely source – The Osmonds, six brothers from Utah who formed a band with the intention of making money for their deaf elder brothers.
Members of band saw Jo’s video and were moved. They got in touch to ask her to be an ambassador for their charity, the Hearing Fund UK, and the wheels were set in motion to turn a vague childhood promise into reality.
Jo said 5% of children in Bangladesh – 1.2m – are deaf. The plan was to fit 500 of them with hearing aids in the space of two days.
Simply boosting sound, aids are a more basic solution than the cochlear implants Jo had fitted – electronic devices that replace the function of the damaged inner ear, sending sound signals to the brain.
Jo and Amina travelled to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, to film the life-changing clinics.
The “hustle and bustle” of one of the most congested cities in the world was a shock to Jo’s newly revived sense of hearing.
“I was looking this way and that – I’ve never known so much traffic, so many people,” she said.
As the day of the first clinic dawned, the queue outside grew longer and longer.
Despite being highly planned with lots of volunteers, the sheer number of people needing help meant families waiting for hours in the intense Dhaka heat.
For hearing aids to be fitted, the ears need to be perfectly clean so many of the youngsters had to have theirs cleaned before moulds were made. Once the aid was fitted the volume was gradually turned up to reach the right level.
“Watching their eyes light up, they are all reacting differently to hearing sound,” Jo said.
“Some having a quiet reaction others crying. Watching them turning from left to right reacting to sound is amazing.”
The hearing aids worked for most, but not all, of the children.
Rokaya Begum, whose two sons and daughter had them fitted, said: “My children can hear me and have conversations – it doesn’t get much better.”
Sixteen-year-old Morium said she could hear the pigeons. “They sound good,” she said.
Her mother said it would mean she could get an education and job and be able to look after her parents.
To eventually see their dream of helping children in her home country come true had been “a very emotional journey” for them both, Amina said.
“I couldn’t have done it alone,” Jo said. “There were so many children involved.”
The hearing aids “had broken down all those isolating barriers,” she said.
For Jo, the chance to see the children’s reactions is priceless. Despite regaining her hearing, her disorder – Usher syndrome – means she is now losing her sight.
She uses a white stick and compares her diminishing vision to looking at the world “through a letterbox”.
“It was a thought provoking visit – being deaf is a very isolating condition anyway,” she added. “The stigma surrounding deafness is a world-wide issue.
“But there are thousands and thousands of children like Morium.
“At the end of the day it is a hearing world and hearing aids have enabled me to be a part of it.
“This has been a humbling experience, but it’s not over – there are so many more children that I want to reach.”
The Gift of Hearing will be shown at 19:30 GMT on 29 July on BBC One in the North East and Cumbria, and at 23:05 BST on 4 August on BBC Two nationwide.
Called Portraits Untold, she is painting four people who have achieved “great things” – including Dame Evelyn Glennie, a profoundly deaf percussionist, and Neil Baldwin, the Stoke City FC mascot who has a learning disability and was subject of the award-winning film Marvellous.
As she paints, she and the sitter have a conversation exploring diversity and humanity to “discover the fact that we are a united species of human beings”.
Documents obtained by Benefits and Work suggest that a large number of claimants are wrongly being paid both disability living allowance (DLA) and personal independence payment (PIP) at the same time.
In a document entitled ‘Critical Process Points – PIP Top Must Do Actions’ DWP staff are warned that failure to follow instructions is leading to “high volumes of overpayments of PIP and DLA”.
The document states that:
“When processing all reassessment cases (including SRTI) you must wait for the task generated following receipt of the AP report before recording the decision. This task is purposely delayed by PIPCS whilst it starts a data extract process with DLACS.
“Failure to wait for this task or taking action to record the DLA other benefit information manually, is contributing to high volumes of overpayments of DLA and PIP. This is because the system has not had time to complete the data exchange process and both DLA and PIP can be in payment.”
Claimants who are told they have been overpaid benefits in this way should try to get help from a local advice agency or law centre.
Benefits and Work has obtained a sample copy of the Award Review (AR1) form introduced last month for personal independence payment (PIP) claimants. The form is being issued when a PIP award is due for renewal or where there is a change in a claimant’s condition or circumstances.
The Award Review form is meant to make it easier for claimants to tell the DWP what has changed without having to complete a whole ‘How your disability affects you’ form.
It is intended for use where a time-limited award is due for renewal or where claimants tell the DWP about a change in their circumstances. It may also be used where information provided by someone else suggests there may have been a change in a claimant’s condition.
The form is 12 pages long. It begins by explaining:
We know people’s lives can change making it easier or harder for people with a health condition or disability to do everyday things, so Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is awarded for a set time. This means we need to check to see if anything has changed.
For example, your needs may have changed, you may have had your home adapted, your medication or treatment may have changed or you may have worked out different ways to do things.
We need to ask about any changes in how your health condition or disability affects you since we last looked at your PIP claim.
This form is the easy way to tell us about any changes and help us get your PIP award right.
The form follows a standard format. So, for the ‘Preparing food’ activity, for example, you are asked to say whether doing so is:
You are then asked what has happened and when. You are also asked to say how this has made things easier or harder in your life.
There are also questions about treatment and medication.
A decision maker will look at the form and either make a fresh decision based on the information in it, along with your previous assessment report and any new medical evidence, or refer the case to Maximus or Capita if they consider that more information is needed.
We’ll be publishing guidance on completing the AR1 in an updated version of our PIP guide later this summer.