On Friday 28th November the Aspire Welfare Benefits Advice Service was successful in one of the first Personal Independence Payment (PIP) tribunal appeals regarding how the principle of the “20 metre rule” works and is applied in the PIP decision making process.

The “20 metre rule” states that a PIP claimant “can stand and then move more than 1 metre but no more than 20 metres, either aided or unaided”. However, individuals who are able to walk further than 20 metres may still be eligible to the enhanced rate of the mobility component of PIP, depending on whether they can do so safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly and in a reasonable time period, and whether they are unable to do so on more than 50% of the time.

Irene Frost, age 54, had a spinal tumour removed in April 2013 which resulted in her becoming an incomplete paraplegic. Irene contacted Aspire’s Welfare Benefits Advice Service because, although she was receiving the standard rate mobility component, she thought that she might be entitled to the enhanced rate. The case put forward to the tribunal by Nicola Lazare, Aspire’s Welfare Benefits Advisor, was that although Mrs Frost could walk more than 20 metres, she could not do so as previously described i.e. safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly and in a reasonable time period and on more that 50% of the time.

Nicola Lazare, from Aspire’s Welfare Benefits Advice Service comments: “I am delighted with the outcome of this tribunal, not only for Ms Frost, but for other incomplete spinal cord injured people who will benefit in the future. Aspire would like to thank the Rt. Hon. Tom Brake MP for his assistance in getting clarification from the Rt. Hon Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for the Department of Work & Pensions, regarding the application of the “20 meter rule” by DWP Decision Makers, which aided us in our case.”

Irene Frost says: “I am extremely grateful to Aspire for helping me with my appeal. Receiving the enhanced rate rather than the standard rate will make a big difference to me and will enable me to maximise my independence. Disability is expensive and I know that lots of other spinal cord injured people are experiencing similar frustrations with the PIP claims system. The Aspire team quickly identified the relevant issues and supported me throughout the tribunal process. I hope my tribunal win will encourage others to pursue the benefits to which they are entitled.''

Find out more about Aspire’s Welfare Benefits Advice Service.