Mobility - Activity 1: Planning and following a journey

Activity 1 considers a claimant's ability to follow the route of a familiar or unfamiliar journey as well as to plan and undertake a journey. As with all the other activities, a claimant is to be assessed as satisfying a descriptor only if they can do so reliably.


The descriptors for Activity 1 are -

  1. Can plan and follow the route of a journey unaided. 0 points
  2. Needs prompting to be able to undertake any journey to avoid overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant. 4 points
  3. Cannot plan the route of a journey. 8 points
  4. Cannot follow the route of an unfamiliar journey without another person, assistance dog or orientation aid. 10 points
  5. Cannot undertake any journey because it would cause overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant. 10 points
  6. Cannot follow the route of a familiar journey without another person, an assistance dog or an orientation aid. 12 points

Source: Part 3 of Schedule 1 to the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) Regulations 2013 (SI.No.377/2013)


Terms used in the PIP descriptors are defined in regulations and, in relation to Activity 2, are -

  • “aid or appliance” - (a) means any device which improves, provides or replaces [the claimant's] impaired physical or mental function; and (b) includes a prosthesis;
  • “assistance dog” means a dog trained to guide or assist a person with a sensory impairment;
  • “orientation aid” means a specialist aid designed to assist disabled people to follow a route safely;
  • “prompting” means reminding, encouraging or explaining by another person;
  • “psychological distress” means distress related to an enduring mental health condition or an intellectual or cognitive impairment;
  • “unaided” means without - (a) the use of an aid or appliance; or (b) supervision, prompting or assistance.

Source: Regulation 2 and Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) Regulations 2013 (SI.No.377/2013)

See also DWP guidance on Activity 1 from the Personal Independence Payment assessment guide for assessment providers.


Commentary: The meaning of ‘follow the route' of a 'journey’ has been subject to conflicting decisions. In [2015] UKUT 344 (AAC) Judge Jacobs holds that help to overcome anxiety caused by crowds or from meeting other people while following a journey is irrelevant when considering the relevant descriptors. He finds that the use of the words 'follow' and 'route' focuses upon the claimant’s ability to navigate along pathways and is not concerned with other possible problems that a claimant may have when being in the natural environment (conflicting with the more generous approach of [2015] UKUT 386 (AAC)). The most recent case on this issue, [2015] UKUT 694 (AAC) supports Judge Jacobs more restrictive interpretation of the 'following a journey' descriptors, however it adds that the effects of overwhelming psychological distress could be relevant when assessing an ability to navigate a route if a person had a particular cognitive difficulty in making minor modifications to the route, such as to navigate round road works or the effects of an accident. In [2016] UKUT 531 (AAC) a three-judge panel (carrying greater weight) considered all these decisions and concluded that to follow a journey includes both navigation and an ability to make progress, and may therefore be satisfied if a person experiences overwhelming psychological distress.

In [2016] UKUT 420 (AAC) Judge Jacobs confirms that, although the DWP guidance on Activity 1 defines a journey as being a 'local' journey, the legislation does not state this and there is therefore no requirement for the descriptor to be assessed in relation to a local journey.

Add commentary or suggest an edit.