Preparing for your PIP assessment
Unless you have a terminal illness you’ll usually have to have an assessment to complete your Personal Independence Payment (PIP) application. It’s an opportunity for you to talk about how your condition affects you - it's not a diagnosis of your condition or a medical examination.
If you’re waiting for a medical assessment
At the moment the DWP will try to do the assessment by looking at your medical evidence and talking to you over the phone or by video call. It’s important to send your medical evidence as soon as possible.
If the DWP can’t assess you over the phone or by video call, they’ll invite you to a face-to-face medical assessment.
If you’re worried about being assessed over the phone, you can have someone aged 16 or over on the call with you. They can take part in discussions and take notes.
If you have evidence about your health condition which wasn’t in your application, mention this during the assessment. This might be evidence from a support worker or a doctor. Offer to send this additional evidence to the decision maker to help with your assessment.
It's important you prepare - the DWP will use evidence from the assessment to decide if you can get PIP. Your assessment provider will be Independent Assessment Services or Capita - you should get a letter telling you which one it will be.
A health professional will carry out your assessment - they'll write a report and send it to the DWP.
Talking about how your condition affects you
You should be prepared to talk about how your condition affects you even if you’ve already detailed it on your 'How your disability affects you' form. It can be hard to do this but it will really help if you can talk about:
- the kind of things you have difficulty with, or can’t do at all - for example, walking up steps without help or remembering to go to appointments
- how your condition affects you from day to day
- what a bad day is like for you - for example, ‘On a bad day, I can’t walk at all because my injured leg hurts so much’ or ‘On a bad day, I’m so depressed I can’t concentrate on anything’
It’s a good idea to take a copy of your form with you. That way you can refer to it in the assessment and make sure you tell the assessor everything you want them to know about your condition.
Help sheet for the day of your assessment
Don’t let the assessor rush you and try not to just answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to their questions. Always try to explain how doing something would make you feel afterwards and the impact it can have on you if you had to do it repeatedly in a short period of time.
Print it out and take it with you. It includes tips on what to take to your assessment and dos and don’ts during the assessment.
Observations on what you say and do during the assessment
The assessor will use the information you gave on your 'How your disability affects you' form but also draw opinions from what you say and do on the day. For example, they might ask you how you got to the assessment centre. If you say you came on the bus, they’ll make a note that you can travel alone on public transport.
You might also be asked to carry out some physical tasks during the assessment. Don’t feel you have to do things in the assessment that you wouldn’t normally be able to do. If you do them on assessment day, the assessor may think you can always do them. If you’re not comfortable with something - say so.
The assessor will also make a note of your mental state during the assessment - for example, they'll record whether you look depressed or happy, tense or relaxed and how you cope with social interaction.
Take someone with you for support
You can take someone with you into the actual assessment if they’re 16 or over. This could be anyone who makes you feel more comfortable, like a friend, relative or carer. If you want, they can take part in discussions and take notes for you.
Ask for an adjustment
Check with your assessment provider that your assessment centre has everything you need - if it doesn’t, you can ask for it. This can help make you feel more comfortable on the day. For example:
- ask if you’ll have to go upstairs, and if there’s a lift that can accommodate a wheelchair if you need one
- ask how roomy the centre is if you get anxious in enclosed spaces - if the rooms or corridors are small, tell them this could make you anxious and see what they can offer you
- ask for an interpreter or signer if you need one - do this at least 2 working days before your assessment so they have time to organise it
- ask for the person carrying out the assessment to be the same gender as you, if that’s important to you
- ask them to make an audio recording of the assessment
Recording your assessment
It might be useful to make a recording of your assessment in case you need to challenge the decision.
If your assessment is face to face or over the phone, you and the assessor can both make an audio recording. You can’t make a video recording.
You’ll need to ask if it can be recorded - you should phone the assessor as soon as possible before your assessment.
You’ll need to agree you’ll only use the recording for certain things - the assessor will ask you to sign a form or verbally agree to this.
The assessor will send their recording to you after your assessment.
If the assessor refuses to record it or tells you not to record it, you can complain to your assessment provider.
Changing the venue
If the location of your assessment is more than 90 minutes away by public transport and you have difficulty travelling long distances, you might be offered an alternative location or home visit.
If your GP normally visits you in your home, you might be offered a home visit instead of a having to go to an assessment centre.
Your assessment centre might ask you for a letter from your GP or other evidence that you need a home visit or alternative location for your assessment.
How to ask for an adjustment
To ask for an adjustment, phone your assessment provider using the number on your appointment letter. If you ask for an adjustment and it’s not made, this could be discrimination - contact your local Citizens Advice for more help.
Warning: you must go to your assessment
You must go to your assessment otherwise your PIP claim will be rejected and you’ll have to start the application process all over again.
Contact your assessment provider straight away if you can’t make your appointment or if you’ve already missed it. If you’ve a good reason for not going they may reschedule it. The number to contact is on your appointment letter.
There are no rules on what is a good reason for missing an assessment but the DWP should take into account your health and things that may affect you like a family bereavement.
If your PIP claim is rejected because you missed your assessment, you can ask the DWP to change this decision. You must have been given at least 7 days’ written notice of the assessment date (unless you agreed to a shorter notice period).
The cost of the journey from your home to the assessment centre (and back again), parking and fuel can be reimbursed. If you take someone with you to the assessment, their travel costs can be reimbursed but only if they travel with you.
You can’t get your travel expenses paid before the assessment and you can’t be reimbursed for things like meals and loss of earnings.
If you travel by taxi, you must get the centre to approve the use of the taxi before your assessment. If you don’t, they may not reimburse the fare.
If you travel by car, the cost of parking can be reimbursed and 25p per mile can be paid towards the cost of fuel.
How to claim travel expenses
Ask the receptionist at the assessment centre for a travel expenses claim form and pre-paid self-addressed envelope. Include all your tickets and receipts with the claim form.
Find out more about your assessment
You can find out more about how Independent Assessment Services or Capita will run your assessment and how they can support you on their websites.