DWP updates face-to-face PIP assessment rules – including how claimants attend

Justin Tomlinson gets questioned on PIP assessments

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The DWP have altered and updated rules today which concerns face coverings and who can be brought along to a review. This not only concerns PIP claimants but also those on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit.

PIP claimants usually face health assessments following a claim to determine how much income they should receive from the benefit. As the pandemic emerged, physical assessments were scaled back to prevent the spread of coronavirus but they may become more prevalent once again in the months ahead.

Where a claimant is assessed in person, they’re usually allowed to bring someone with them so long as they’re aged 16 or over.

According to Citizens Advice: “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.”

Healthcare professionals may visit PIP claimants directly to conduct an assessment but benefit claimants may also need to visit a Jobcentreplus during the process. Those visiting DWP buildings will need to adhere to new guidance.

Face coverings and bringing people to an assessment

The new guidance says: “DWP needs face coverings to be worn in its buildings. This means you, and anyone who comes with you to your assessment, must wear a suitable face covering when you attend your appointment unless you have a reason for not wearing one in line with Government guidance.

“If you do not already have a face covering, a disposable face mask can be provided when you arrive at the assessment centre.

“By face covering, we mean something which safely covers the nose and mouth. You can buy reusable or single-use face coverings. You may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering but these must securely fit round the side of the face.”

The DWP also asked claimants “if possible”, to come to their assessment alone.

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The DWP said: “If you need to have someone with you to support you, you can bring one adult. If you need support from an interpreter or support worker, please contact the assessment provider.

“Please do not bring children with you to your assessment. If you have children and cannot make childcare arrangements, please contact the assessment provider straight away using the contact details in your appointment letter so they can discuss the best way to carry out your assessment.”

On top of these changes, the DWP removed various guidance on social distance requirements but the Government still maintains social distancing should be exercised within assessment rooms.

The rules state: “All assessment rooms that will be used for face to face assessments should allow for a two metre distance between the HCP and the claimant.”

PIP eligibility rules

PIP is designed to help with the extra living costs associated with long-term physical or mental health conditions or disabilities. Additionally, people who have difficulty doing certain everyday tasks or getting around because of a condition may also get support.

PIP is split into two elements, a daily living and mobility part. Daily living payments will be either £60 or £89.60 per week. Mobility payments pay out £23.70 or £62.55.

To be eligible for PIP, claimants must be aged between 16 and state pension age. They must also expect their condition(s) to last for at least 12 months from when they originally started.

PIP can be received at the same time as all other benefits but if a person gets the Armed Forces Independence Payment, they will not be eligible.

Claims for PIP can be made over the phone or through the post. Should assessments be needed, claimants will be invited to provide more information.

During an assessment, a health professional will typically question a claimant on how their condition affects their daily living and mobility tasks. They’ll also be asked about any treatments they’ve had or will have in the future.

Assessors may ask claimants to do some simple movements to show how they manage some activities. While the assessment can be done in person, it can also be over the phone or by video call.

Assessments shouldn’t last more than an hour and once it is completed, claimants will get a letter telling them whether they’ll get PIP and the date of their first payment.

Should a claimant be unhappy with a decision from the DWP, they’ll be able to challenge it under mandatory reconsideration rules.

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