PIP Mobility vs MS


I am currently receiving the standard rate of PIP for help with daily living needs, however, I always get confused with understanding and explaining my mobility problems due to the nature of MS. As most of you understand, if not all, MS can work like an on/off switch. This is how it is for me anyway. I can walk for a short while with a stiff leg and mild discomfort, but after a certain distance my symptoms intensify and I cannot walk without having a rest due to paralysis, pain, foot drop and balance problems. However, I know the PIP form asks the classic question “how far can you walk”, and I answer truthfully, as sure, I can walk more than 50m after having a full night’s sleep. But if you was to ask me that question after walking to the corner shop, my answer would be “I can’t put one foot in front of the other”. So, how do I answer this question?

The first time I answered as if I’d just got out of bed and for that reason I was not awarded the mobility component. But now, when I’m outdoors and my MS symptoms kick in, I could cry as I’m falling over and am in severe pain, yet let me sit down for half an hour and I could walk a little further (although it would still be uncomfortable and I wouldn’t be able to walk far).

Also, there’s the added issue of the medical examination. I’ll walk into the office near enough able bodied as I’m not in a wheelchair and I have both legs, but if I was to exercise before hand it would be another story. This illness is so annoying as in trying to prove disability. Maybe I’m being ungrateful because I can initially walk 50m, and hence, I don’t qualify for mobility, but it seems unjust that I am considered of equal fitness to a person without MS who can walk for miles.

Thank you for listening.

Well, if you are saying you can walk 50 metres, but couldn’t walk 50 metres back & do it repeatedly, with no pain or discomfort & safely, you can’t really walk that far. Depends what you mean by exercise, obviously not running a marathon, but could you walk the length of 5 double decker buses easily & back the same distance? If the answer’s yes, you won’t qualify. I am a walking wounded so to speak, I need sticks or crutches, but can’t use them because of the RA in my shoulders, arms & hands, therefore, I cannot walk safely, by myself without pain, tripping or falling. I have to wear a foot brace as well, due to foot drop, so if you know this is the case with yourself, that’s your answer. Hope this helps, someone will be along shortly to give you more no doubt!

1 Like

As Tracey says, answer the question truthfully. But clarify what you mean. If you are asked how far can you walk? Say that you can (on a good day, given sufficient rest) walk 50metres of even a bit more, but then you’ll need a good rest before walking again. And on a bad day, or having done that 50 metres a bit too often, you are exhausted, in pain and incapable of taking another step safely.

Remember, the measure is whether you can do such a walk reliably, this means:

  • safely,
  • to a reasonable standard,
  • repeatedly,
  • in a reasonable time.

So of you literally spell out for the DWP assessor what you can do, what effect this has on you and obviously if you use any aids to help you walk safely and to a reasonable standard. If you have any evidence of this, for example, a letter from a physiotherapist, then include it with your claim / appeal.


1 Like

Hi, thanks for your reply. By ‘exercise’ I mean walking. I am currently on the waiting list for an ankle brace, and also am due to start a trial using FES. I have continuous discomfort and a limp but could or would physically walk 5 buses and back as needs must. I certainly wouldn’t be skipping it though :wink:

Thanks Sue and Tracey for making it clearer. I will keep this advice for when I re-apply. I just get confused between what I can do, but forget to remember the discomfort it causes. However, when the MS symptoms kick in, I can barely walk the length of one bus.


if you could/would walk 5 bus lengths and back then that would be 100 metres which would result in no mobility award unless you are awarded at least 8 points under descriptor 11, an assessor/DWP would look at any pain medication that you may be on before making a decision.


I clarify IN DETAIL. indoors =maybe. Outdoors = no. On ice, snow, uneven ground = no. wet pavements = no. If using a stick, crutch, wheelchair state that clearly.

You have to tell them IN DETAIL what its like on the WORST day - or they just assume that every day is a good one.

Stress you cannot do this, while tired, while carrying anything, at night, in the dark, repeatedly…or any of the variables. Get a close friend to help fill it in. They often notice things about you, you don’t!

1 Like

I disagree about describing the worst day. Because if you turn up for an assessment and it’s not one of your worst days, the assessor will think you have massively exaggerated. But, being completely honest and describing what you are like on the worst days; making clear what is normal, and what your symptoms are like on a terrible day (and detailing how many of those you have) is more appropriate and will give the assessor the best picture of you.

I think we have to get beyond this feeling that the assessors are the enemy. In my opinion, what you should be doing is fully explaining how your MS affects you and therefore helping them to make the correct decision first time round. So behaving as though they are not automatically adversarial.

This was my approach and I was awarded the enhanced rate for both care and mobility for the maximum time of 10 years.

But obviously you should complete the forms as you consider the best method.


1 Like

You are right, the assessor does seem like the enemy, ready to trip you up or not believe what you say. It’s the on/off switch of this illness that is the question, when it’s off I can walk 5 buses, but when it’s on 1 bus would create pain, foot drop, and stumbling. So if I explain it when I am at my worst I worry about turning up for the interview when I am completely rested and at my best. What he/she will see is not a true reflection of what I can be like after slight exertion or when overheated, I then would be incapable of walking.

However, I will have to explain this situation in full like you advise. Thank you.

What you said made me realise, I didn’t mention the problem I have with surfaces. Totally flat even ground is the best, but when I’m faced with grass or lumps and bumps it’s terrible what with my foot drop, I’m stumbling and tripping up and the whole effort is exhausting. Thanks for reminding me. Funny how I am so use to it all I now see it as the norm.