Ask CPAG Online - Have the reliability rules been properly applied?

What are the reliability rules?

Regulation 4(2A) of the PIP Regulations says that you are only to be assessed as satisfying a descriptor if you can carry out the relevant activity:

  • ‘safely’ i.e. in a manner unlikely to cause harm to you or another person during or after the activity;

  • ‘to an acceptable standard’;

  • ‘repeatedly’ i.e. as often as reasonably required; and

  • ‘within a reasonable time period’ i.e. in no more than twice the maximum time normally taken by a person without a limiting physical or mental condition.

The rules mean that if you are unable to do something reliably, even if you had assistance, you should be treated as unable to do it at all.

What factors may be relevant?

Pain and fatigue are clearly relevant to the reliability criteria, as are the benefits and any adverse side effects of medication you take. Whether you can carry out an activity ‘safely’ involves an assessment of risk. The test is whether harm is likely, as opposed to certain. CPIP/2287/2015 held that a remote risk (even with potential dire consequences) would not mean that there was a likelihood of harm. Conversely, a more likely risk with lesser consequences could mean that you cannot do the activity safely. ‘An acceptable standard’ is not defined, so there is scope for detailed argument in any particular case. You can check for updated case law on the reliabililty rules on LASA's pipinfo.

How should the reliability rules be applied?

The requirement to be able to carry out an activity reliably should be applied to every descriptor. UK/5205/2014 deals with how to reconcile the wording of some of the descriptors with the reliability rules.

The DWP often fails to properly consider and apply the rules and this is a common ground for disputing a decision and showing that you do satisfy relevant descriptors. The problems is partly caused by the fact that the PIP2 questionnaire and the PIP medical assessment are not designed to specifically address the issue, while the bare wording of the descriptors do not refer to the reliability criteria.