17th March, 2020

URGENT: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

In light of the current Coronavirus outbreak the Department for Communities has taken the precautionary decision to temporarily suspend all face-to-face assessments for health and disability-related benefits. This is aimed at reducing the risk of exposure to Coronavirus and safeguarding the health of individuals claiming health and disability benefits, many of whom are likely to be at greater risk due to their pre-existing health conditions.

If you already have an assessment appointment arranged with us, you do not need to attend. We will contact you to discuss your appointment and explain the next steps to you.

If you have made a claim for PIP but do not have a date for an assessment appointment, you do not need to do anything. We will contact you shortly by telephone or letter to let you know what will happen next.

If you are already receiving PIP, you will continue to receive your current payments as normal. If you have made a new claim or wish to make a new claim we will continue to take claims for all benefits.

The current NHS guidelines on Coronavirus, including advice on those who should stay at home can be found here.

Personal Independence Payment

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a non means tested benefit for people aged between 16 and 64 who have a long term health condition or impairment.

In Northern Ireland Capita provide the PIP assessment service for the Department for Communities (DfC). Assessments are focused on how an individual's health conditions or impairments may impact on their ability to carry out key everyday activities rather than the health conditions themselves.

An important part of the assessment process for most customers is a face-to-face consultation. This is carried out by a qualified Disability Assessor who assesses your ability to carry out everyday activities and your mobility, then writes a report for DfC setting out how your daily living and mobility are affected by your condition or disability. The remainder of assessments will be paper based, which means that a face-to-face consultation will not be required.

Our Disability Assessors are qualified health professionals who have been specially trained in carrying out PIP assessments and have been approved by DfC.

Capita to Trial Audio Recording on Behalf of DfC

In June 2018 the First Independent Review of how the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment process is working in Northern Ireland was published. The report made a number of recommendations including the introduction of audio recording of assessments in both home and assessment centre locations.

Having reviewed the report’s recommendation in greater detail and having taken onboard the views of its stakeholders the Department for Communities (DfC) has decided to pilot the audio recording of PIP assessments. The pilot will commence from Monday 1st April 2019.

From this date any PIP claimant that has an assessment scheduled for the Belfast PIP Assessment Centre, Linenhall Street, may be contacted by Capita and given the opportunity to participate in the audio recording pilot. The pilot will operate on a voluntary basis.

For any claimant not involved in the audio recording pilot, but wishing to record their PIP assessment, arrangements can be made by following the guidance provided in the PIP Assessment Guide. Further information can be found by visiting our Assessment Process page.