Tips on attending a PIP assessment

  • Ask for the support you need to attend the assessment.
  • Read the assessor's guidance beforehand.
  • Take a copy of your application and supporting evidence.
  • Don't assume the assessor knows anything about you.
  • Talk about the support you need even if you don't get it now.
  • Ask someone who knows you well to come with you.

Read more on the most common questions about the PIP assessment.

What should I take to my PIP assessment? Do I need to have letters from doctors?

It’s a good idea to take a relative or friend with you if possible for moral support. They won’t be able to speak for you but it can be helpful to have another person to support you and take notes.

Be prepared to talk about how your condition affects you, even if you’ve already detailed it on your PIP claim form. Make sure that you mention the kind of things you have difficulty with, or can’t do at all. If you can do some activities sometimes but not safely or not repeatedly, not within a reasonable timescale or in an acceptable manner, tell the assessor. Make sure that you tell the assessor anything else that you think is important about your condition.

Take a copy of your PIP claim form and any medical evidence that you want the company (Atos or Capita) to consider, even if you have already sent it in with your form. Appointment letters aren’t especially useful, but letters from your doctor or specialist may be useful.

That way you can refer to these documents in the assessment. Make sure you tell the assessor everything you want them to know about your condition.

What should I expect at the assessment?

A PIP assessment may take up to an hour and a half. The healthcare professional will be observing what you can and can’t do from when you arrive in the car park or from public transport.

The assessor should ask you about how your condition affects your daily life and mobility. There may be a brief physical examination as well, if your disability is (at least partly) physical.

If you have a relative or friend with you, they can be in the room with you, but won’t be able to talk for you.
Healthcare professionals should consider the needs of vulnerable customers, who they define as “someone who has difficulty in dealing with procedural demands at the time when they need to access a service”.

Is it possible to record my assessment?

Atos UK says that customers can record their assessment if you inform Atos beforehand and use (expensive) equipment that can produce two identical copies of the assessment – one for Atos and one for you. Atos doesn’t allow PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones and MP3.

The DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) has accepted that customers can ask the company conducting Work Capability Assessments for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) to make a recording, if they ask in advance, but this is not available yet for PIP assessments. 

Read what Benefits and Work says about secret recordings.

How can I get a home assessment?

You need a doctor’s letter confirming that you’re unable to attend an assessment centre and so need a home visit. Try to get this to Atos or Capita as soon as possible, or even send it in with the PIP claim form, to avoid as much difficulty as possible with this.

What do the DWP take into account when making a decision, or is it done by computer?

The DWP decision maker will read the completed claim form, the Atos or Capita’s healthcare professional’s report and any attendant medical evidence. 

I don't know what will happen next. I am really scared and nervous.

It’s an uncertain time moving from one benefit to another. There has been a lot of news coverage about the problems of claiming PIP but some people move onto this benefit without any problem. Some even get an increased award compared to their DLA.

You can do a PIP self-test to work out what your entitlement is likely to be. Bear in mind that you count as being unable to do a particular activity if you cannot do it:
  • 50% of the time (a diary can help to show this)
  • safely
  • repeatedly
  • to an acceptable standard or
  • in a reasonable timescale (such as twice the usual time)
If you do need to challenge an unacceptable award or no award, you will be able to get advice, both with a mandatory reconsideration and, if necessary, an appeal.

What is the procedure for PIP?

Call 0800 9172222 to start your claim. You will need:
  • your National Insurance number
  • bank details
  • your GP and other medical professionals’ contact details
When you receive a claim form, you have a month or so to complete it and send it back. You need to make sure that you tell the DWP how your condition affects you on this form. Use the descriptor points as a checklist.

If you can’t complete the form in time, phone the DWP on 0345 8503322 to ask for a two-week extension.

The DWP will send your form to the assessment provider. Some weeks later, you will get an invitation to a PIP assessment. Most people have to go for an assessment, though sometimes this is unnecessary. The whole process can take 4 or 5 months.

Where can I get help filling in my PIP form?

Some help with your PIP claim is available online.

Try your local:
  • Citizens Advice
  • Age UK (who help people age 55 and over)
  • Welfare rights groups
This can be useful, as it is easy to forget to say something about how your condition affects you, that you consider obvious.  

I changed from DLA to PIP and scored zero points so I’ve lost carers. Anyone else had this problem?

This happens quite often. When your disability benefit ends, it can affect your benefits package – Carers Allowance, therefore Income Support, Tax Credits, Housing Benefit and so on.

Get some specialist help to try to resolve this as soon as possible. You may be able to get other benefits in the meantime but there may be different conditions attached to them. Your income will fall.

If you win the Mandatory Reconsideration or the appeal for PIP, remember to claim arrears.

My husband has got basic rate PIP, but is finding it a struggle to keep working.

PIP entitlement is not dependent upon working or not working. It is non-taxable, not means-tested and depends solely on the effect that disability has on daily life and mobility.

If your husband is unable to work and he is of working age, he can claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Use our benefits calculator before you claim, to check what your husband might be entitled to.

I applied for PIP and didn't get it. Should I reapply?

If you apply for PIP and get a disappointing award, or no award, it's possible to challenge it. You need first to do a Mandatory Reconsideration and then, if necessary, appeal to the Tribunal.
 
At the same time, or instead if you decide not to challenge the decision you have got, you can re-apply for PIP – it sometimes takes 2 or 3 attempts to get it.
 
For challenges, the time limit is 1 calendar month from the date of the DWP’s decision (the decision on their letter).

If you miss the deadline and have very good reasons (such as bereavement), you can apply for a reconsideration up to 13 months but apply as soon as you can.

I am unable to walk because the pain is so bad. I work in an office full-time. Should I apply for PIP?

Yes perhaps! Do a self-test for PIP.

Bear in mind that you need to show that you are unable to do some of the descriptor activities:
  • at least 50% of the time
  • safely
  • repeatedly
  • in a reasonable timescale (no more than twice as long as others)
  • and in an acceptable manner.

I've lost all my Mobility Allowance and Carers Allowance because of PIP. I don't know where to turn.

Please phone us and we will work out whether it seems that you have entitlement to PIP. We will search for a local adviser who may be able to take your case on. There is also some online help if you need to write a Mandatory Reconsideration.

How do I get help with a tribunal appeal?

Phone us and we will put you in touch with a local adviser, if we can. At worst we will work out with you on the basis for your appeal.

Why was I allowed help on DLA but refused for same issues on PIP?

This is a new benefit with new entitlement rules. For example, if you can’t walk 20 metres, you will get the Enhanced Mobility Component of PIP. For the mobility component of DLA, the distance was 50 metres.

Online benefits calculator

Calculate your entitlements online.