Face to Face Assessment Process

In line with the latest government guidance, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has taken the decision to resume face-to-face assessments for health and disability-related benefits.

In order to protect against the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), we have introduced some new safety measures at our assessment centres and all our staff have been trained on COVID-19 safety.

July 2021 update: There have been announcements in England, Scotland and Wales about lifting or easing restrictions. The COVID-19 safety measures in our assessment centres, and the guidance for people attending an appointment, remain unchanged until further notice.

The guidance is set out below, and is included in your appointment letter.

Please watch this short video for more information.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak - important information to read before attending your assessment

Please read the below guidance carefully before attending your face-to-face assessment. There is also more information about attending your assessment here.

Before the assessment

You must not attend your assessment if you or anyone coming to the assessment with you:

  • have symptoms of COVID-19
  • are following government guidance to self-isolate, including after entering the UK from abroad, or
  • have been contacted by the NHS and advised to stay at home

The most important symptoms of COVID-19 are the recent onset of any of the following:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell

If you cannot attend your appointment because of the reasons above, it is important that you contact us as soon as possible so that we can rearrange your appointment.

If the assessment centre you are due to attend is closed because of local restrictions, we will attempt to contact you to rearrange your appointment.

We will also need to know as soon as possible if you:

  • need a translator or interpreter
  • would like to see a health professional of the same gender

Who you can bring with you to your assessment

If possible, to help maintain social distancing, please come to your assessment alone. If you need to have someone with you for support, you can bring one adult from your household or 'support bubble'. If you need to bring someone who is not from your household, or 'support bubble', please contact us straightaway.

Your companion should not speak for you, but they can help you to answer any questions or explain the difficulties you face more clearly.

Please do not bring children with you. If you cannot make childcare arrangements, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can discuss the best way to carry out your assessment.

What you need to bring with you to your assessment

You will need to provide two forms of ID before your assessment can go ahead. Please bring one piece of ID from category 'A' and one piece from category 'B'. If you do not have any photographic ID, then you should bring two documents from category 'B'. If you do not have acceptable proof of identity we may be unable to continue your assessment.

'A' - Photographic ID

  1. UK or Foreign Passport.
  2. Foreign National ID Card.
  3. UK Photo Card Driving License.
  4. Passport.
  5. Northern Ireland Electoral Identity Card.
  6. Biometric Residence Permit issued by UKBA.
  7. UK Travel Pass with photograph.

'B' - Non-photographic ID

  1. Birth certificate, UK and Foreign.
  2. Marriage certificate, UK and Foreign.
  3. Decree Absolute, UK and Foreign.
  4. UK Driving Licence (old style, no photograph).
  5. Naturalisation/ UK citizenship certificate.
  6. UK Council/ Housing Association rent agreement document.
  7. UK Council/ Housing Association tenancy agreement document.
  8. UK Council Tax Demand.
  9. UK Utility Bill.
  10. UK evidence of entitlement to State or local authority benefit.

You should also bring along any medication or specialised equipment you may need during your assessment. We have a hearing loop, if you need one.

If you have new evidence about how your condition affects your daily life, which you have not already sent to the DWP, please bring this to your assessment.

For example, reports from your:

  • Physiotherapist
  • Social Worker
  • Counsellor
  • Support Worker
  • Consultant
  • Nurse
  • Doctor or GP

You can also bring care or treatment plans from:

  • Occupational Therapists
  • Social Workers
  • Community Psychiatric Nurses
  • Learning Disability Support Teams

Remember, the evidence should show us how your condition affects you and not be just confirmation of your condition or the medication you take. This is because PIP is based on how your condition affects you and not the condition itself.

Face coverings

You, and anyone who comes with you to your assessment, must wear a suitable face covering. By face covering, we mean something which safely covers the nose and mouth. If you do not already have a face covering, a disposable face mask can be provided when you arrive at the assessment centre.

This is to make sure we have the right safety measures in place to keep you and our staff safe during your assessment.

Please contact us straightaway if you, or anyone attending with you, have a reason for not wearing a suitable face covering in line with government guidance in England and Wales

Travelling to your appointment

Make sure that you know where your appointment is taking place, plan your journey and give yourself enough time to arrive on time. If you have any concerns about travelling to the assessment centre, please contact us straightaway.

There is more information about travelling safely here. To find out what your local guidance and restrictions are, visit:

Audio recording

You can record your assessment on audio cassette or CD, but you will need to let us know before your appointment. We cannot accept recordings on computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones or MP3 players.

You will need to provide your own recording equipment and be able to produce two identical copies of the recording at the end of the appointment. The health professional will keep one copy.

You will also need to sign an agreement that explains how the recording can be used.

The assessment centre

To protect you and our staff when attending your assessment and to reduce the risk of anyone spreading or getting COVID-19, you must:

  • not arrive more than 10 minutes early to help us make sure there is enough space for everyone to keep a safe distance from each other
  • use the hand sanitisers provided
  • make sure you stay at least 2 metres apart from others at all times
  • follow any signs and instructions displayed within the assessment centre, for instance there may be one-way systems in place

Please let reception know that you have arrived for your appointment. The reception area will have clear screens to help keep everyone safe. You and anyone you bring with you will be asked to provide your details for NHS contact tracing.

You may have to wait before you can go into your assessment. Seating in our waiting room has been arranged so that everyone is able to keep 2 metres apart.

The assessment centre will be accessible and disabled toilets will be available - we cannot help you to use these.

During your assessment

After each assessment, the room will be cleaned ready for the next appointment.

All assessment rooms allow for 2 metres social distancing between you and anyone you bring with you, and the health professional. You and anyone you bring with you must keep your face covering on during the assessment. The health professional will also keep their face covering on.

The health professional will ask you or your appointed representative questions to find out how your condition affects your daily living and getting around. They will take notes throughout the assessment.

The assessment will not be a full physical examination or an attempt to diagnose your medical symptoms. It will focus on how your life is affected by the challenges you face as a result of your health condition or disability. Each person is different and will be treated with dignity and respect.

Any physical examination that may be required will only involve you performing simple movements relative to your condition and within your abilities. You will not be asked to do anything that will cause you discomfort. The health professional will observe you at a distance of 2 metres while you demonstrate any movements. They will not come into physical contact with you.

This examination may also include a Mental Function Assessment which will be tailored to your individual situation. The health professional may also be able to see some of the difficulties that you have with certain tasks during the time you spend together, which can add further value to the report.

You will only be assessed as being able to do something if you can do it safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly and in a reasonable time.

If the health professional suspects that you, or anyone with you, may have COVID-19 symptoms, they will stop the assessment. You will be asked to go straight home, maintaining social distancing and minimising contact with others. You will need to follow guidance to self-isolate and arrange for a COVID-19 test as soon as possible.

Leaving the assessment centre

The health professional will make sure the corridor is clear before you leave the room. You will be asked to leave the building as soon as possible to reduce the number of people in the assessment centre at any one time.