A WOMAN from the Scottish Borders has described part of the new Adult Disability Payment (ADP) assessment process as “irrelevant” as she backed a charity’s call to scrap the 20-metre rule.

Barbara Hogarth, who is retired, was diagnosed with MS in 1993 and lives in Coldstream.

One of her main symptoms is brain fog but she also experiences numbness, which affects her mobility. Shortly after being diagnosed, Barbara was given an indefinite award for the highest rate of mobility on Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

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However, when she was reassessed for PIP in 2017, she was told she only qualified for the Standard mobility rate.

After a six-month wait and a tribunal hearing, Barbara was given the Enhanced level of mobility for PIP, which she still receives today.

She said: “The 20-metre rule is irrelevant. If someone can walk 20 metres once that’s one thing but the guidelines state you should be able to do it ‘reliably’, which is repeatedly and safely.

“If forced I could walk the distance but I’d pay the cost for it. I’ve got two mobility scooters. I wouldn’t walk up to the high street, which is about 50 metres.

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“If I were to walk up to the high street and walk along it, do a bit of shopping and come back down, that would be me done for the day.

“If I chose to walk that distance my brain energy would be drained and I could do nothing constructive after.

“It would drain me for the day (I’d know that later in the day I would need to have a recuperation time).

“It isn’t just a physical recuperation it’s a mental one too because the brain fog comes in. That doesn’t get measured when you’re being assessed to see if you can walk 20 metres.

“But how do you define that somebody is ‘disabled enough’ to qualify for getting the higher level of assistance? The doctor knows how the individual is and what they’re capable of. Why don’t they trust what the doctor will say, or the consultant, the physiotherapist, the occupational therapist?

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“But it is difficult to know where to draw the line. I just hope the Scottish Government have got a bit of humanity in them and agree to do things differently to how the UK Government does PIP.”

The Government has said everyone in Scotland currently in receipt of the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) PIP will have switched over to ADP, which is managed by Social Security Scotland, by summer 2025.

Morna Simpkins, Director of MS Society Scotland, said: “The 20 metre rule is an unfair and unacceptable method of assessment.

“It punishes people with fluctuating health conditions such as MS, which is unpredictable and different for everyone.

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“The Scottish Government has an opportunity to build a world-leading social security system that gives disabled people in Scotland, including the 15,000-plus living with MS, fair access to the benefits they need and deserve. Currently the 20-metre rule is stopping that happening.

“We urge everyone living with MS in Scotland to respond to the consultation and show the Government why it needs to urgently update the mobility component of ADP.”