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Qualifying for a Blue Badge with Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

On August 30th 2019 changes to Blue Badge eligibility came into force which means more people with non-visible disabilities now qualify. This, in addition to changes in mobility allowances means eligibility for a Blue Badge has changed significantly. We asked independent mobility consultant Helen Dolphin MBE to explain this in a bit more detail and provide a roundup of what you need to do to check whether you’re eligible for a Blue Badge.

In the past, meeting the requirements to join the Motability Scheme and automatically qualifying for a Blue Badge went hand in hand. This was because to be eligible to join the Motability Scheme, for most customers, you needed to be in receipt of the Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance (HRMC DLA) and if you received this allowance you automatically qualified for a Blue Badge. This meant that Motability Scheme customers in receipt of DLA could have a Blue Badge if they chose to apply.

Now, there are two ways to qualify for a Blue Badge; You either qualify in terms of being “eligible without further assessment” (previously known as “automatic”) or “eligible subject to further assessment” (previously known as “discretionary”). It depends on which country you live in as to what the eligibility criteria are, so this article is split by country. 


Allowances used on the Scheme


Qualifying for a Blue Badge without further assessment (England)

To be “eligible without further assessment” you need to be more than two years old and fall within one or more of the following descriptors:

  • Receives the Higher Rate of the Mobility Component of the Disability Living Allowance (HRMCDLA); or
  • Receives 8 points or more under the “moving around” activity of the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP); or
  • Receives the mobility component of PIP and has obtained 10 points specifically for Descriptor E under the “planning and following journeys” activity, on the grounds that they are unable to undertake any journey because it would cause them overwhelming psychological distress; or
  • Is registered blind (severely sight impaired); or
  • Receives a War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement (WPMS); or
  • Has been both awarded a lump sum benefit at tariffs 1-8 of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and certified as having an enduring and substantial disability which causes inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking.

Many people receiving PIP have found the new eligibility for a Blue Badge quite confusing as instead of looking at whether someone receives standard or enhanced rate PIP it looks very specifically at the points scored for actual descriptors. For example if someone scored 10 points for PIP Descriptor E under the “planning and following journeys” activity they would qualify without further assessment but if they received 10 points for PIP Descriptor D, or 12 points for PIP Descriptor F under the “planning and following journeys” mobility activity they would not qualify under this category.

Applying for a Blue Badge with further assessment (England)

If you do not receive any qualifying benefits you can still apply for a Blue Badge through the “with further assessment” route. This also applies to people who may have lost their DLA in their PIP reassessment or did not get the required number of points needed.

Previously those people applying through this route may have been assessed by an “Independent Mobility Assessor”. However, these have now been replaced by “Expert assessors”. The assessments will still be done impartially, but it means a far wider range of medical/healthcare professionals will be carrying out the assessments.  It also removes the absolute requirement for independence, recognising that for “non-physical” disabilities especially, it may be that only a professional with a close knowledge of the applicant’s case history could certify their disability for the purpose of their Blue Badge application.

To qualify for a Blue Badge “with further assessment” a person must be aged two or over and be described as one or more of the following:

  • A person who drives a vehicle regularly, has a severe disability in both arms and is unable to operate, or has considerable difficulty in operating, all or some types of parking meter; or
  • A person who has been certified by an expert assessor as having an enduring and substantial disability which causes them, during the course of a journey, to: Be unable to walk; Experience very considerable difficulty whilst walking, which may include very considerable psychological distress; or Be at risk of serious harm when walking; or pose, when walking, a risk of serious harm to any other person.

Children under the age of three may be eligible for a badge if they fall within either or both of the following descriptions:

  • A child who, on account of a condition, must always be accompanied by bulky medical equipment which cannot be carried around with the child without great difficulty;
  • A child who, on account of a condition, must always be kept near a motor vehicle so that, if necessary, treatment for that condition can be given in the vehicle or the child can be taken quickly in the vehicle to a place where such treatment can be given.

Qualifying for a Blue Badge without further assessment (Scotland, Wales, NI)

To be “eligible without further assessment” you need to be more than two years old and fall within one or more of the following descriptors:

  • Receives the Higher Rate of the Mobility Component of the Disability Living Allowance (HRMCDLA); or
  • Receives 8 points or more under the “moving around” activity of the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP); or
  • Is registered blind (severely sight impaired); or
  • Receives a War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement (WPMS); or
  • Receives an award under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) within tariffs 1-8.

In Scotland and Wales people can also qualify for a Blue Badge without further assessment if they;

  • Receive 12 points under the “planning and following a journey” activity of the mobility component of PIP.

Many people receiving PIP have found the new eligibility for a Blue Badge quite confusing as instead of looking at whether someone receives standard or enhanced rate PIP it looks very specifically at the points scored for actual descriptors.

Applying for a Blue Badge with further assessment (Scotland, Wales, NI)

If you do not receive any qualifying benefits you can still apply for a Blue Badge through the “with further assessment” route. This also applies to people who may have lost their DLA in their PIP reassessment or did not get the required number of points needed.  

To qualify for a Blue Badge “with further assessment” a person must be aged two or over and be described as one or more of the following:

  • You have a permanent and substantial disability which causes inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking;
  • You drive regularly, have a severe disability in both arms and are unable to operate, or have severe difficulty operating, all or some types of parking meter.

Children under the age of three may be eligible for a badge if they fall within either or both of the following descriptions:

  • A child who, on account of a condition, must always be accompanied by bulky medical equipment which cannot be carried around with the child without great difficulty;
  • A child who, on account of a condition, must always be kept near a motor vehicle so that, if necessary, treatment for that condition can be given in the vehicle or the child can be taken quickly in the vehicle to a place where such treatment can be given

In addition, if you live in Scotland or Wales you can also qualify for a badge if;

  • You are unable to walk or virtually unable to walk because of a temporary but substantial disability which is likely to last for at least 12 months but less than three years.

Scotland and Wales both have a criteria in the “with further assessment” route for those with non-visible disabilities but how they are written are slightly different.

In Wales you can qualify if;

  • You have severe Cognitive Impairment which is defined as a person who is unable to plan or follow any journey without the help of someone else. Satisfactory Evidence for this would be an appointment for a Memory Clinic, registration on the local authority learning disabilities register or a letter from a healthcare professional involved in your treatment.

In Scotland you can qualify if;

  • You have a mental disorder (within the meaning of section 328 of the Mental Health (care & treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003) and you are considered to lack awareness of danger from traffic which is likely to compromise your safety or that or others during journeys.

As yet Northern Ireland has not introduced criteria to include those with non-visible disabilities in both the “with” and “without further assessment” categories.

Qualifying for a Blue badge is a little more complicated than it has been previously, but it does mean more people will be eligible to apply.

Useful links

For the current Blue Badge qualification criteria for England visit www.gov.uk.  

For the current Blue Badge qualification criteria for Scotland visit  https://www.mygov.scot/apply-blue-badge/eligibility-who-can-have-one/

For the current Blue Badge qualification criteria for Wales visit https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2017-09/who-is-eligible-for-a-blue-badge.pdf

For the current Blue Badge qualification criteria for NI visit https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/blue-badge-eligibility-criteria

The Motability Scheme offers an all-inclusive package that allows anyone in receipt of higher rate mobility allowances (such as the Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment or the Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance) to use their mobility allowance to lease a car, scooter, powered wheelchair or Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle. The Scheme provides flexible and hassle-free access to a brand new, reliable vehicle of your choice – giving you greater freedom, everyday.

If you’d like us to send you more information about the Motability Scheme, request an information pack below.

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