People are told that everyone has to have a face-to-face interview for PIP. This is not true. Official DWP guidance sets out exemption from the interview, where there is enough evidence on paper to establish your daily living needs and mobility needs, and/or where the face-to-face interview is likely to be stressful to you. (The guidance also covers the negative situation where they look at your form and think you don’t qualify for PIP, so won’t call you in. Make sure you are using the parts of the guidance which support you getting PIP.) See extracts below.
See our page on winning exemption for teens moving from DLA to PIP.
How to ask for a paper-based assessment
On your PIP2 form in section 4 there is a heading: Coming to a face-to-face consultation. You can use the box underneath it to explain why a face-to-face consultation is too stressful for you. You should also make clear that a home visit is not suitable either as it is also face-to-face.
Ask your GP or other medical professional for a letter to confirm your need to be exempted. Other professionals can include: psychiatrist, physio, Wheelchair Service, community psychiatric nurse, epilepsy nurse, counsellor or others. We have produced a leaflet about this which you can give to them. See here
Many doctors think a home visit is the only alternative to going to an assessment centre. Make sure that your doctor is informed that they can recommend a paper-based review.
It’s helpful if letters you send include medical evidence about your daily living and mobility needs, as well as reasons for exemption from the exam. Preferably a letter or letters which the professional has written for this purpose.
Attach letter(s) to the form and refer to them in Section 4 and under “other information”. Say: see letter from Dr X attached. Put the date of the letter to show it is current.
After you’ve sent the PIP2 form in, you may still get a letter calling you in for a face-to-face interview. If you get an appointment letter, you can get the face-to-face assessment cancelled by writing in asking for a paper-based assessment or review.
This should go to the DWP, even though it’s Independent Advisory Services (Atos) or Capita who have sent you the appointment. (IAS have told us that any additional PIP case information has to go to the DWP to be uploaded into your case file before being considered by the assessor.)
Regarding exemption, the DWP advises to send in letters/further medical evidence (called FME) by post to the DWP PIP team that sent you the PIP2 form. The PIP team number varies. For example:
PIP1, Mail Handling Site A, Wolverhampton WV98 1AA or
PIP2, Mail Handling Site A, Wolverhampton WV98 1AB or
Freepost DWP PIP # (# put number 1, 2… as on the DWP PIP letter)
If you are not sure where to send it, call the DWP PIP helpline free on 0800 121 4433
Textphone 0800 121 4493.
As a back-up you can also post your letters/FME to the assessor company you are under, either:
- Atos IAS, PO Box 1006, Stockton-On-Tees, TS19 1UL
- Capita PIP, PO Box 307, Darlington, DL98 1AB
Note – emailing evidence is now barred, citing data security, even though many disabled claimants need to do online correspondence, an access issue which should be recognised. Post adds delay to urgent situations, as it takes time for post to arrive and then be scanned onto the system. You are supposed to tell the DWP at the start if you want to use email.
Complaints about the DWP handling of PIP claims can be sent to:
Ask your MP to support your paper-based assessment by them writing to the DWP on your behalf. If you have already been sent the appointment letter, your MP can also intervene to ask for the appointment to be put on hold while your Further Medical Evidence is considered by their staff. Atos and Capita have staff who specifically deal with MPs’ enquiries about their constituents.
If you are suffering mental distress, and also have physical disabilities which affect your mobility or daily living needs, they should not insist that a face-to-face exam is still required because they need to assess your mobility or physical needs in person. Your mental welfare is paramount and must take priority. When challenged about this, assessors have taken other evidence into account. They have looked at the disabled person’s previous DLA file (even though they say different rules apply and it’s not the same). They also ring GPs to check the disabled person’s mobility level.
THE PIP GUIDANCE
HP = health professional looking at the form and enclosures
Consultation = interview or “medical” exam
EXTRACTS FROM THE GUIDANCE:
“1.4.1 Additional evidence from professionals supporting the claimant should be sought where the HP feels it would help to inform their advice to DWP. The circumstances where obtaining further evidence may be appropriate include (but are not limited to):
- where HPs feel that further evidence will allow them to offer robust advice without the need for a face-to-face consultation – for example, because the addition of key evidence will negate the need for a consultation
- where they feel that a consultation may be unhelpful because the claimant lacks insight into their condition
- where claimants have progressive or fluctuating conditions
- where they consider that a consultation is likely to still be needed but further evidence will improve the quality of the advice provided to DWP – for example, because the existing evidence lacks detail or is contradictory or to corroborate other evidence
- where, in reassessment cases, further evidence may confirm whether or not there has been a change in the claimant’s health condition or disability.
1.4.2 If a face to face consultation has already been arranged and, following receipt of further evidence, the HP concludes that they can now advise DWP on the basis of paper evidence, the face to face consultation should be cancelled.
1.4.3 If a claimant brings further relevant evidence to a face to face consultation which is not already on PIPCS, the HP should always take a copy of it and consider its relevance when completing their assessment report. The copy of the evidence should be sent to the CM with the completed report.”
“Cases that should not require a face-to-face consultation
1.5.5 Although each case should be determined individually, the following types of case should not normally require a face-to-face consultation:
[We have left out the part about claims where they say there is not enough evidence so they don’t call people in and obviously they will not grant benefit for those claimants.]
- there is strong evidence on which to advise on the case and a face-to-face consultation is likely to be stressful for the claimant (for example, claimants with autism, cognitive impairment or learning disability)
- the claimant questionnaire indicates a high level of disability, the information is consistent, medically reasonable and there is nothing to suggest over-reporting – (examples may include claimants with severe neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, severely disabling stroke)
- there is sufficient detailed, consistent and medically reasonable information on function.”