Assessments

Your face-to-face assessment

DWP has now resumed face-to-face assessments in COVID-19 safety compliant environments.

All operating Assessment Centres are now COVID-19 safety compliant and you should follow the following guidance when attending a Centre.

We will send a letter with your assessment date. Your appointment letter will have a contact number and contain information about attending your assessment, including directions to the Assessment Centre and extra guidance.

Please read this letter before your assessment.

Before travelling, please read:

This is so you can plan your journey to and from the Assessment Centre. Different areas may have different travel restrictions. If you are travelling from, through or into an area that is following different local guidance, you should follow the guidance for whichever area has the highest alert level or the greatest restrictions throughout your journey.

If the travel restrictions mean you cannot get to the Assessment Centre for your appointment, please contact us straight away using the contact details in your appointment letter. We will discuss and re-arrange your assessment.

If you are or have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable, you can take additional precautions to protect yourself. For more information, read the government guidance for those:

Please help us to protect you and our staff and reduce the risk of anyone spreading or getting coronavirus (COVID-19).

Do not attend your assessment if any of the following reasons apply:

  • you or anyone coming with you has symptoms of COVID-19
  • you or anyone coming with you is following guidance to self-isolate, including after entering the UK from abroad
  • the NHS has contacted you or anyone coming with you and advised you or them to stay at home

Instead please contact us straight away, using the contact details in your appointment letter. We will discuss and re-arrange your assessment.

For more information read the government guidance for:

 

The most important symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are 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

There is more information about COVID-19 symptoms on the NHS website.

Please contact us immediately if you are unable to attend your assessment for one of these reasons.

Also contact us before your assessment if you have children and cannot make childcare arrangements. This is so we can discuss the best way to carry out your assessment. 

Any contact needed before your assessment should be made to the Customer Enquiries team on 0800 288 8777. Our Customer Enquiries team can handle most enquiries relating to your assessment. The Customer Enquiries line is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm, and Saturdays 9am to 5pm.

Face coverings

DWP needs face coverings to be worn in its buildings. This means you, and anyone who comes with you to your assessment, must wear a suitable face covering when you attend your appointment unless you have a reason for not wearing one in line with government guidance on:

If you do not already have a face covering, a disposable face mask can be provided when you arrive at the Assessment Centre.

By face covering, we mean something which safely covers the nose and mouth. You can buy reusable or single-use face coverings. You may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering but these must securely fit round the side of the face.

If you, or anyone attending with you, is exempt from wearing a face covering, please contact us straight away using the contact details in your appointment letter. This is to make sure we have the right safety measures in place to keep you and our staff safe during your assessment. For more information about face coverings go to the government guidance on:

 

Companions

If possible, to help maintain social distancing, please come to your assessment alone.

If you need to have someone with you to support you, you can bring one adult from your household.

To find out who is included in your ‘household’, read the government guidance for:

If you need to bring someone who is not from your household, or you also need support from an interpreter or support worker please contact us. This is so they can make sure there is enough space to socially distance during your assessment.

Please do not bring children with you to your assessment. If you have children and cannot make childcare arrangements, please contact us straight away using the contact details in your appointment letter so they can discuss the best way to carry out your assessment.

The assessment centre

Please follow any signs or markings on the pavement outside the Assessment Centre. Remember to keep 2 metres apart from anyone outside your household, wear a face covering when you enter the Assessment Centre, and keep it on while you are inside.

There will be staff at the Assessment Centre entrance to let you know when you can enter. To reduce the amount of time you will have to wait and to help with social distancing, please do not arrive more than 10 minutes before your appointment start time.

You, or anyone who comes with you, will not have your temperature taken on entering the assessment centre.

Hand sanitiser will be provided at the entrance of the Assessment Centre and at the reception desk for you to use.

The reception area and signing in desk will have clear screens to help keep everyone safe. Please sign in at the reception desk. If you need to hand in documents (for example identity documents, or medical information) please give these to the receptionist.

To support NHS contact tracing services, NHS QR code posters will be on display in some of our assessment centres. You and anyone who comes with you can use them to check in. The assessment provider will ask you to provide contact details if a NHS QR code poster is not available or you cannot use it. For more information in England and Wales visit NHS QR codes. In Scotland visit help QR check-in.

You may have to wait before you can go into your assessment. The Assessment Centre staff will tell you where you can wait.

Please follow any signs and instructions displayed at the Assessment Centre. There may be one way systems in place, and the number of people allowed to use any lifts will be reduced.

Where possible we will aim to make the most of the supply of fresh air in the assessment room. For example, we may open windows or doors but will always ensure your privacy and safety is maintained.

Toilets will be available at the Assessment Centre. Please follow the instructions on site.

During your assessment

There are signs on assessment room doors to show if the room is in use so no-one comes in accidentally and breaks the 2 metres social distancing rule.

All assessment rooms allow for 2 metres social distancing between you, anyone you bring with you (who is not in your household) and the healthcare professional. You and anyone you bring with you, should keep your face covering on during the assessment. The healthcare professional may also keep their face covering on.

During your assessment, the healthcare professional will observe you at a distance of 2 metres while you demonstrate any movements. They will not come into physical contact with you.

For Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) assessments, the healthcare professional may need to physically examine you but they will wear more protective equipment such as an additional face shield, an apron and gloves.

If the healthcare professional suspects you, or anyone with you, may have COVID-19 symptoms, the healthcare professional will stop the assessment. You will be asked to go straight home maintaining social distancing and minimising contact with others. For more information on travelling, please read the UK Government’s safer travel guidance for passengers. You will need to follow guidance to self-isolate with your household and arrange for a COVID test as soon as possible.

After each assessment, the room will be cleaned, especially areas such as door handles, chair arms, desks and other places that are touched most. Every room will be cleaned ready for the next appointment.

Leaving the assessment centre

The healthcare professional will make sure the corridor is clear before you leave the room.

Hand sanitiser will be provided for you to use at the assessment centre exit.

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.

Special requirements

If you have any special requirements, for example interpreters, ground floor facilities, authorised companion, audio requests etc, please get in touch with our Customer Enquiries team before your assessment on 0800 288 8777. You can also find the number on your appointment letter. The Customer Enquiries line is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm, and Saturdays 9am to 5pm.

Interpreters

Please let us know at least two days before your assessment if you need an interpreter for your assessment. This will help to make sure that we can have an interpreter available for you and ensure social distancing can be maintained.

Ground floor facilities

A small number of Assessment Centres do not have ground floor facilities. If your appointment is at one of these Centres, we will tell you when we confirm your appointment. If you would have difficulty using stairs to evacuate a building, please contact us.

Audio Recordings

We will accommodate requests for an audio recorded face-to-face assessment where possible and provide the equipment to do this. However, you must make a request for an audio recording before the assessment takes place.

If you would like your assessment to be audio recorded, please call our Enquiries line on 0800 288 8777. Our lines are open Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, and Saturdays from 9am to 5pm. Please make your request as early as possible so it is part of the appointment booking process.

You can find more information, including an explanation of the DWP policy about the audio recording of Work Capability Assessments, on the Government’s website.

Changing your appointment

If you cannot attend your assessment, please contact our Customer Enquiries team on 0800 288 8777. This line is available Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm, and Saturdays 9am to 5pm.

If your appointment is for a Work Capability Assessment, we can give you a new appointment only once. If you cannot attend for a second time, DWP will ask us to send you a form. Please use the form to explain to DWP why you could not attend.

Requesting a telephone assessment

Telephone assessments are only appropriate in some cases. A Healthcare Professional will have reviewed the information you have provided and a face-to-face assessment would be needed so DWP make sure that you are paid the right amount of benefit.

Requesting a home visit

We are currently unable to offer home visits due to COVID-19 restrictions.

If you think you cannot travel because of your medical condition, please contact us as soon as possible. Our Healthcare Professionals will then consider all available information. It is likely we will ask you for supporting information, including confirmation from a medical professional who is treating you.

We may be able to offer a pre-paid taxi to the Assessment Centre or provide a telephone assessment as an alternative.

Claiming expenses


The Health Assessment Advisory Service pays expenses:
  • For travel by public transport
  • Towards fuel costs for private cars
  • The cost of parking when it is not available at the Assessment Centre.

We will also pay for fares of an appropriate companion. If you wish to claim for an authorised companion to travel with you, call us on 0800 288 8777 before the assessment and let us know.

To have your expenses paid, you will need to fill out and submit an expense form. You may ask the receptionist at the Assessment Centre for help filling out the form. Please keep all of your receipts. You should receive payment for your expenses approximately two weeks after you submit the form.

What to bring to the assessment

  • Proof of identity
  • Any medication you may be taking
  • Any information from your General Practitioner (GP) or Specialist which explains how your condition affects you
  • If you are claiming expenses, please bring details of your bank account if you have one.
  • Face covering

Give all documents including medical evidence and proof of identity on arrival at reception. Do not wait to give documents to the Healthcare Professional.

Waiting time and length of assessment

You may have to wait before you can go into your assessment.  The Assessment Centre staff will tell you where you can wait.

Please follow any signs and instructions displayed at the Assessment Centre. There may be one way systems in place, and the number of people allowed to use any lifts will be reduced.

There is no set time for assessments, but they are usually between 20 minutes and 1 hour.

The assessment is used to gather information. We don't want your assessment to take any longer than it needs to. After your assessment, our Healthcare Professional finalises the Assessment Report and this advice will then form a part of the evidence the Government will use to decide your claim.

Taking notes

You or your companion are welcome to take notes for your personal use. Your notes will not form part of the medical report that we send to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The Healthcare Professional

Our Healthcare Professionals are doctors, nurses and physiotherapists. All are registered with their governing body. These include:

  • The General Medical Council
  • The Nursing and Midwifery Council
  • The Healthcare Professions Council.

Our Healthcare Professionals go through a specifically designed training course. They must be approved by DWP on behalf of the Secretary of State.

The Healthcare Professional will explain the assessment to you. They will record information on a computerised form. Some questions may not relate directly to your medical condition, but to daily activities.

Maintaining respect for everyone

During your visit we will treat you with dignity and respect at all times. We fully understand that an assessment can be worrying for some people. We also expect that our staff be treated with dignity and respect. We do not accept verbal abuse or inappropriate behaviour.

What happens with your support before DWP provide you with the outcome

Whilst you are waiting for your assessment to be completed, you will be paid the assessment rate designated under ESA. If you are claiming Universal Credit you will receive the standard rate of Universal Credit and will need to continue attending the Jobcentre as agreed with your Work Coach. You can find more information about Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit on the DWP website.