If you meet the basic conditions for getting Personal Independence Payment (PIP), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will ask a health professional to assess your ability to carry out certain activities. These are called the daily living activities and the mobility activities.
In most cases, the health professional will ask you to attend a face-to-face assessment to gather more information about your abilities.
This page answers questions you may have about the face-to-face assessment.
You won't have to have a face-to-face assessment if you're claiming because you're terminally ill.
More about the Special Rules for terminally ill people
Who will carry out the face-to-face assessment?
Your face-to-face assessment will be carried out by a health professional working for a private provider that carries out PIP assessments for the DWP. Depending on where you live, the provider who arranges the assessment will be either Atos or Capita.
Where will the face-to-face assessment take place?
A face-to-face assessment may be carried out at a range of places, such as an assessment centre or a local healthcare centre. The assessment provider may also choose to offer you an assessment in your own home.
If your journey time to the assessment centre by public transport would be more than 90 minutes, the provider must offer you an alternative, which could be in your own home.
Can you ask for an assessment to take place at your home?
If you're unfit to travel, you can ask for the assessment to take place in your home. This can be arranged if the assessment provider agrees that it's necessary.
DWP guidance suggests that the assessment provider should consider a home assessment if you can show that you normally get home visits from your GP.
How much notice will you get of the face-to-face assessment
The assessment provider must give you written notice of the time, date and place of the assessment at least seven days in advance, unless you agree to attend the assessment at shorter notice.
If you want to change the date of the assessment, contact the assessment provider as soon as possible to rearrange it.
Can you get help with travel costs to the face-to-face assessment?
The assessment provider will pay your travel costs if you attend a face-to-face assessment. When they send you the appointment, they will also include a travel expenses claim form. After you have attended, you can return the form in the envelope provided.
You can also claim travel expenses for a companion or carer, and for young children who would otherwise be left alone.
Travel expenses include public transport fares or travel by private car. In some circumstances, if you get approval in advance from the assessment provider, you can also claim for taxi fares.
Travel expenses can include costs such as parking, tolls and congestion charges, but they must be for the journey to or from the assessment.
You can't claim travel expenses before you attend the assessment. You can't claim other costs such as meals or loss of earnings.
Can you take someone with you to the face-to-face assessment?
You can take someone with you to the face-to-face assessment if this is helpful. You can take anyone you choose, such as a friend, relative or carer. They can take part in the discussion with the health professional if you or the health professional wishes them to do so.
What happens at the face-to-face assessment?
At the assessment, the health professional will ask questions about your circumstances, your health condition or disability and how this affects your daily life.
They will ask you about a typical day and whether this varies. If you have a fluctuating condition, they will talk to you about your good days and bad days, and whether you have longer periods when your condition improves or gets worse.
The health professional may also carry out a short physical examination if it's relevant to your claim. However, you shouldn't be forced to do anything that causes you pain.
The health professional won't be able to give you a decision or an opinion on whether you can get PIP. Their job is to advise the DWP decision maker, who will make the decision.
Can you provide written evidence at the face-to-face assessment?
If you have written evidence that you've not yet sent to the DWP, such as a letter from your doctor or other health or social care professional, you can give it to the health professional. They should take a copy of it and consider it with the other evidence.
Will the face-to-face assessment be audio recorded?
The assessment with the health professional isn't recorded, but you can use your own equipment to audio record it if you wish. However, you must be able to provide a full and accurate copy of the recording to the health professional at the end of the session, either on CD or audio cassette. You must tell the assessment provider before the appointment if you want to do this.
You are not allowed to make a video recording of the assessment.
If the health professional notices that you are recording secretly, they may end the assessment consultation and the DWP could turn down your claim on the grounds that you did not cooperate with the assessment process.
What happens if you don't attend the face-to-face assessment?
If you don't have a good reason for not attending a face-to-face assessment, your claim for PIP will be turned down.
However, this doesn’t apply if you didn't get seven days written notice of the appointment time, unless you agreed to accept a shorter period of notice.
If your claim for PIP is turned down because you didn't attend the face-to-face assessment, you can ask for the decision to be looked at again. This is called asking for a reconsideration. For example, you might want to do this if you believe that you did have a good reason for not turning up.
What is a good reason for failing to attend an assessment?
A good reason is not defined in law. The DWP decision maker will decide whether you have a good reason for failing to attend or not.
However, when deciding whether you have a good reason, they must take account of:
- your state of health at the time
- the nature of any disability you have.
They may take account of any thing else that affects you too, such as a family bereavement or homelessness.
Other useful information
- PIP Assessment Guide - A DWP guidance document for providers carrying out assessments for Personal Independence Payment, at www.gov.uk
- DWP fact sheet 'The Assessment Process and Assessment Providers' at www.gov.uk