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PIP assessments by telephone

Jon (CHDCA)
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Welfare benefits - Craven CAB, North Yorkshire

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The option of a telephone assessment as an alternative for someone who would have difficulty travelling never seems to get raised. E.g. previous threads:
https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/14591/
https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/11542/
https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/9890

For mental health cases in particular, where the physical aspects of the examination aren’t so relevant, a telephone consultation might seem reasonable?

Reg 9 of the PIP regs gives the SoS discretion as to whether to carry out a consultation with the claimant in one of two ways, either (a) face to face, or (b) by telephone.

However, the discretion to carry out telephone consultation assessments has been effectively fettered by the PIP assessment guidance, which tells assessors that the options are to either do a face to face consultation, or do a paper based assessment (i.e. make the decision without a consultation with the claimant). If some further information from the claimant is thought to be necessary, then a telephone call can be made to ask for the information, but this is not framed in the guidance as an alternative way to carry out the consultation itself, it’s framed as part of the information gathering which is done prior to deciding whether a proper consultation with the claimant will be necessary at all.

In my experience, an HCP ringing a claimant while not seeing them face to face is rare, and probably only happens if there is plenty of written evidence available as well. I’ve informally asked an HCP about doing a telephone assessment instead of face-to-face, and been told they simply aren’t allowed, which I imagine reflects Atos policy.

So, has anyone explored asking for a telephone consultation, eg as a reasonable adjustment?

bristol_1
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WRAMAS Bristol City Council

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Yes, in one case repeatedly, and I never got a decent response. Eventually IAS conceded to do a paper-based assessment and this was preferable to the client, who then received an appropriate award, so I didn’t have the capacity or energy to pursue the issue (4 separate letters of complaint, all copied to IAS and PIP simultaneously).

I never got a satisfactory reply to why a tel assessment would no be a suitable for a client whose main limitations arose from psychotic symptims; one IAS operator told me they ‘never’ do phone assessments as they can’t carry out a physcial assessment. DWP just referred me back to IAS (because they carry out the assessments) to respond to my complaint and IAS just said they only make 3 calls to health professionals to gather info as they have to complete assessments within a contractual time frame.

Jon (CHDCA)
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Welfare benefits - Craven CAB, North Yorkshire

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Total Posts: 1247

Joined: 16 June 2010

Thanks for the reply!

Interestingly, CPIP/3544/2015 confirms that it is in the power of a first tier tribunal to order either a telephone or an in-person assessment. Regarding how the referral from FTT to the assessment provider would actually work, Judge Gray confidently says at para 36 that “if no procedure currently exists no doubt it soon will”.