Face-to-face assessments for health and disability benefits have resumed after being suspended due to the pandemic. However, claimants can still request telephone or paper based assessments for work capability Industrial Injuries Benefit or Personal Independence Payment claims.

The return of face-to-face assessments is good news for some Universal Credit and Employment Support Allowance claimants, who have been waiting many months after being told that their work capability assessment can only be completed by means of a face-to-face meeting. Depending on the outcome of the assessment, benefit payments could increase and large amounts of arrears paid. But if attending an assessment venue is problematic for you then a home visit can be requested - if there is supporting medical evidence of the need.

Providing good supporting evidence at an early stage in the claim (or benefit review) can reduce the chance of the need for a face-to-face assessment. This could be letters from consultants, occupational or physio therapists, your GP or even a friend or carer. The evidence should provide as much detail as possible about your diagnosis, medication and should relate to the relevant criteria for the benefit being assessed for.

If you are asked to attend a face-to-face assessment but are unable to do so or feel uncomfortable doing so, you should contact the assessment provider as soon as possible.  The assessment providers are companies contracted by the Department of Work and Pensions to provide reports and opinions to the benefit decision makers. If the assessment provider still decides that a face-to-face assessment is needed then you should seek advice, as benefits could be disallowed if you do not attend. 

If you are worried about being Covid safe there is guidance on face-to-face assessments, including Covid protection measures at www.gov.uk. The guidance says that claimants should attend alone if possible but they are still allowed to have someone accompanying them for support; if they are accompanied by somebody from a different household (such as a friend or support worker) the assessment provider needs to be informed so they can make sure there is enough space to socially distance during the assessment. The advice is that face coverings should be worn at assessments unless exempt, and those who are exempt should notify the assessment providers in advance.

Assessment providers should not make physical contact with claimants during examinations, but will observe them from a distance (except for industrial injuries benefit assessments, which may involve physical examinations with contact using protective equipment).

If you are called in for an assessment and would like advice on this or another benefit issue Aspire Welfare Benefits may be able to assist. You can call on 020 8420 6711 or alternatively email on [email protected]

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