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Social Security Case Law - Spring 2024

Summaries of recent cases on social security law and practice.

PW v Department for Communities (PIP) [2023] NICom 39

You can read the full judgement here.



The Applicant had a previous award of enhanced daily living PIP.  When the Applicant made a renewal application, the decision of the Department was that no award was merited.  The Applicant appealed this decision and was unsuccessful.  The Applicant applied to the Social Security Commissioner for leave to appeal.

Legal Issue

Whether there was a fundamental error of fact (that the Applicant’s wife worked part time and not full time) and if this amounted to an error of law.


The Commissioner set aside the Appeal Tribunal decision and remitted the case back to a freshly constituted Tribunal.

There was agreement between the parties that there was a factual error by the Tribunal considering the Applicant’s appeal.  The Tribunal had made a decision that the account given by the Applicant could not be accepted because the evidence of the assistance provided to him by his wife during a typical day was unlikely given her work pattern of 50 hours each week.  Subsequent evidence was submitted by the Applicant, and it was accepted by both parties that the Applicant’s wife worked approx. 24 hours per week.

The Commissioner stated:

‘the actual assistance that his wife gave to the Applicant at the material time may fall to be assessed, but the critical issue as a matter of law is not what help he received, but what help his disablement meant that he reasonably needed, whether he received that level of support or not: MB v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2016] UKUT 250 AAC.’