Page created: 21 April 2021

What to Expect From an Assessment

Unless you have a terminal illness you will usually be required to have an assessment to complete your Personal Independence Payment (PIP) application. On this page you can find out about the assessment and what will happen next.

To be awarded either rate of PIP, each claimant will need to undergo a face-to-face assessment. Assessments are delegated by the DWP to be carried out by Assessment Providers (APs) (IAS - Atos), (Capita) and their employed Healthcare Professionals (HCPs).

“With fatigue, brain fog, pain or low mood it can be difficult for someone to articulate just how difficult things have become. On top of that, we want to appear positive. I found when helping people with their appeals that what has been said by an individual can be interpreted very differently to what is meant, perhaps to fit the assessor's own perceptions."  

*Testimony from an advisor

At the face-to-face assessment, the HCP will ask questions about your day-to-day life. They will ask how you manage at home or at work (if you have a job), as well as about any social or leisure activities that you engage in (or have had to give up).

They will often ask you to describe a typical day in your life and go through the PIP activities, descriptors and pointers, so it is worth looking at these and formulating your answers before you go.

When answering, explain your difficulties as fully as you can, including ALL symptoms at their worst; and try to word answers in a way that leaves no room for misinterpretation.

  • Tell them about any pain or tiredness that you feel, or would feel while carrying out each activity, as well as afterwards.
  • Consider how you would feel if you had to do the same task repeatedly.
  • Tell them if you need reminding or encouraging to complete an activity.
  • Tell them if you need supervision or assistance to undertake an activity.
  • Explain whether you need to use an aid or appliance to undertake an activity.

NB: During the coronavirus crisis, face-to-face assessments are now being undertaken over the telephone, or in some cases, via video link.

Do not over or underestimate your ability to carry out activities. If your condition fluctuates, let the Healthcare Professional know about what you are like on bad days as well as good days. The HCPs opinion should not be based on a snapshot of your condition on the day of the consultation; they should consider the effects over time.

“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.”

– Capita Assessment Provider

Any physical examination required will only involve you having to do simple movements relative to your condition. You should not be asked to make any movements that will cause you pain or discomfort.


It is important to know that each activity that you will be assessed under for PIP should be assessed as whether you satisfy a descriptor ‘reliably’.

Reliably is defined under the Personal independence Payment Regulations 2013, as:

  •  safely – meaning unlikely to cause harm to yourself or others during the completion of an activity.
  •  to an acceptable standard – meaning as often as the activity is reasonably required to be completed.
  •  in a reasonable time – meaning no more than twice as long as an activity would take an able-bodied   person  to  complete.
  •  Repeatedly.

This means that an HCP assessor must first assess whether you can undertake an activity under the PIP criteria ‘reliably’ and whether your difficulties affect you more than 50% of the time (balance of probabilities).

During any assessment, whether it be face-to-face, over the telephone or via video link, it is vitally important that you explain whether you can or cannot undertake activities ‘reliably’.

Before the consultation ends, the HCP should give you an overview of their findings and invite you to ask questions and add or clarify anything that is relevant. You will not receive a formal decision on the day on whether you will be awarded PIP. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will make the decision about your claim based on the results of the assessment, the information in your application form and any supporting evidence that you have included. You then will be given a score based on these findings.

Reasonable Adjustments

When having to undertake an assessment for PIP, you should be aware that you are able to request reasonable adjustments to help you engage with the assessment process.

Here is a short list of reasonable adjustments you may want to consider asking for:

  • Home assessments (you will need a letter of support from a GP).
  • A change of the time and location of an assessment.
  • Help towards paying for a taxi for you to attend an assessment.
  • Allowing for an audio recording of an assessment.

Any reasonable adjustments will need to be agreed with the Assessment Provider seven days in advance of the assessment appointment; therefore, you will need to request any adjustments immediately upon receiving an appointment letter.

For further details on  reasonable adjustments, please see this useful web page from Citizens Advice: 

Reasonable Adjustments are governed under s20 of the Equality Act 2010.

What Will Happen Next?

Following the assessment, the DWP will send you a letter once they have made their decision, explaining why you do or do not qualify for PIP. Decisions on new claims end-to-end can take on average between 12 to 16 weeks (DWP figures 2020).

If your claim is successful, you will be paid your award every four-weeks, beginning from the date the claim is registered, so it is important to begin proceedings as soon as possible, as the entire process may take several months from starting the application process to receiving any money.

NB: It is highly advisable to get your medical evidence ready to send with your PIP2 or to send in by the time of your assessment.

Appeals - Case Study

Read a case study of a person’s experience of the appeals process.