If chronic pain restricts your mobility, having ready access to your own means of transport can make a huge difference to your quality of life. For many people the Motability scheme and the vehicle it provides is their only route to true independence.
What is Motability?
Motability is a UK based scheme which enables people with disabilities to lease a new car, scooter or powered wheelchair using their mobility related state benefits.
To be eligible, a person must be in receipt of either the Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance (HRMC DLA) or the Enhanced Rate Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment (ERMC PIP). At least 12 months of the award must remain outstanding. Both of these benefits are currently paid at the rate of £58.00 per week.
The scheme not only provides a vehicle, but also covers necessary adaptations, insurance, maintenance and breakdown cover. The vehicle does not have to be driven by the applicant. Family, friends and carers can be added as named drivers.
How does it work?
If you are already in receipt of either of these benefits, taking advantage of the scheme is relatively straightforward.
There are three steps:
- Find a car. The best way to find a suitable car is to use the Motability car search tool, which can be found via this link. Importantly, the tool will advise whether an additional financial contribution is required from the applicant and if so, how much.
- Find a dealer. Once you have identified a car that you believe is suitable, you will need to find a local dealer. Again, Motability have search tool which can be found via this link. Speak to the dealer’s Motability advisor and arrange a test drive.
- Complete the lease application. The dealer’s Motability advisor will assist you with the application process.
The vehicle is leased to you for a period of 3 years, after which the vehicle is simply returned and you are free to enter into a new lease.
All good so far.
But how do people who suffer chronic pain fair?
Of course the key to accessing Motability is to be in receipt of one of the two triggering benefits at the higher (or enhanced) rate. And therein lies the problem.
Whilst qualifying does not depend upon either the nature of the condition from which you suffer or your ability to work, there is an eligibility assessment which relates largely to your mobility on a level surface, as well as your ability to carry out a range of daily activities.
As PIP continues to be rolled out to replace DLA, chief among the hurdles to overcome is the highly controversial 20 metre rule. Subject to its interpretation at the assessment, this rule can be a bar to an applicant who can walk that distance aided, or unaided, from being awarded enough points to qualify for the enhanced rate of PIP and therefore a Motability car. It has been estimated that as a result of this change, up to 500 people a week have been forced to return their Motability vehicles.
To put the new rule into context, for the purpose of applying for DLA, the relevant walking distance was 50 metres and the government have not been able to put forward any logical or justifiable reason for the change. Rather, 20 metres seems to be little more than an arbitrary figure chosen to ensure that as few people as possible satisfy the criteria.
We were contacted recently by a gentleman who, as a result of limited mobility arising from his CRPS, has qualified for a Motability vehicle for almost 20 years. However, following a recent eligibility assessment he has had to return his vehicle. Although he is appealing the decision, his request to retain the vehicle pending the outcome of the appeal was declined.
Don’t give up
Appeals are often successful. The key is to ensure that those hearing the appeal both understand and have evidence of your conditions. Medical evidence is vital and for those who are (or have been) in litigation as a result of their condition, speak to your solicitor about using the medical evidence from your claim for the purpose of the appeal. Treating specialists may also be willing to assist with a letter or report, although you may be charged a fee.
The Citizens Advice Bureau are the very best source of information and support during the appeal process. Their staff receive excellent training in this regard and they have helpful online resources.