The Buzz

What should I expect from a PIP face-to-face assessment?

Due to Coronavirus, you can still apply for PIP but some processes  have changed. All face-to-face assessments have been suspended right now. You will have a telephone or paper form assessment instead.

You can check out the latest PIP updates here!

About the assessment

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) uses a health assessment report to help them make a PIP decision.

The health assessment for PIP is carried out for the DWP by two companies called Independent Assesment Services (formerly ATOS) and Capita. Where you live in the UK will decide which company does your assessment.

The health assessment can be on paper or face-to-face. If the health professional doing your assessment needs more information than the How your disability affects you (PIP2) form and/or supporting evidence, you may be invited for a face-to-face assessment.

  • You have to attend this assessment and should use it to talk about how your disability affects you.
  • Assessments can be in your home or an assessment centre, depending on your needs and if you can travel to the assessment centre.
  • You can take someone with you to the assessment for moral support. This could be a parent or friend – someone who knows lots about how your deafness affects you and will help you explain this to the assessor.
  • You’ll get a letter giving you the date, time and location of the assessment.
It’s very important to go to the assessment, otherwise the DWP may make a decision without enough evidence which results in your claim being turned down.
The DWP also has the right to reject a PIP application if you don’t go to the assessment.

Changing the date of your assessment

If you can’t go to the assessment you need to contact the assessment centre using the details on your appointment letter as soon as possible to explain why and make a new date.

You aren’t allowed to change the date a second time, so make sure you can definitely go, and anyone you want to come with you can come too, before re-booking.

Travelling to your assessment

You can claim back any travel costs. You can also get a taxi to and from the assessment if you can’t travel independently, but you need to arrange this before the assessment.

Asking for an interpreter

You’ll need to contact Independent Assessment Services or Capita as soon as you get your assessment letter and tell them you need an interpreter, and explain any other needs.

You’ll need to do this even though you explained your communication needs on the How your disability affects you (PIP2) form.

Preparing for the assessment

  • Make notes of what you want to say – it’s easy to forget things during the assessment.
  • It can be helpful to make your notes in the same order as the questions on the How your disability affects you (PIP2) form.
  • Read through your copy of your How your disability affects you (PIP2) form to remind yourself of what you said.
  • If someone is coming with you to the assessment, think about what you want them to do.
    • Not say anything, just being with you is enough.
    • Chip in if it looks like you’re stuck on a question or forgotten something.
    • Let you answer, but then add their answer.
    • Make notes for you.
  • A day or two before the assessment contact the assessment centre to check an interpreter has been booked for you.

PIP activities and descriptors

Each PIP activity has a list of descriptors 

A descriptor is the term the DWP uses for a short sentence explaining the difficulties you have, or the help you need from another person, to complete the activity.

The assessor will use your form and what you say during the assessment to decide which descriptor suits you best.

Each descriptor scores you points. If you score enough points you’ll get PIP.

For example, these are the descriptors and points for activity 7 (Communicating)



a. Can express and understand verbal information unaided. 0
b. Needs to use an aid or appliance to be able to speak or hear. 2
c. Needs communication support to be able to express or understand complex verbal information. 4
d. Needs communication support to be able to express or understand basic verbal information. 8
e. Cannot express or understand verbal information at all even with communication support. 12

Knowing what the descriptors are, and which one best describes you, can help you be clear about the difficulties you have and the help you need for each activity.

Important: You should only say you can do an activity without help or difficulty if:
  • you can do it safely
  • you can do it as often as you need to
  • it doesn’t take you longer than someone without a disability
  • you can do it well enough.

What to expect at the assessment

  • Assessments usually last about an hour.
  • There will be one person who does the assessment. They will be a health professional such as a nurse practitioner, occupational therapist or paramedic, but don’t assume they know much about deafness.
  • You, or someone with you, can take notes during the assessment. You don’t have to show or give copies of these notes to anyone.
  • You can record the assessment, but there are rules about this and you need to arrange it in advance. Contact Independent Assesment Services (formerly ATOS) or Capita to find out more.
  • During the assessment the assessor will usually go through the questions in the How your disability affects you (PIP2) form again, but could ask you for more details than the form does.
  • The assessor may ask you to carry out some tasks such as a maths sum or walking a certain distance.
  • The assessor will make a note of other things at the assessment such as how you got to the assessment centre, how you were dressed (smart, scruffy etc.), if you seemed worried or relaxed, how you coped with the assessment.
  • Assessors shouldn’t carry out informal hearing tests but may use observations about you to inform their advice to the DWP. This means it’s really important that you explain to the assessor how your deafness affects you in your daily life.


Don’t assume that because you’re claiming PIP because you’re deaf you’ll get an assessor who knows about deafness.

Lots of assessors don’t know much about deafness so it is really important that you explain everything to them clearly.

Example: Some assessors think wearing a hearing aid or cochlear implant means you can hear fine. You need to explain that this isn’t true.

Example: Your assessment will be in a quiet room with only two or three people (you, the assessor and anyone you bring with you). The assessor will be facing you and there won’t be background noise. You need to explain that in the real world you can’t hear as well as it’s often noisy and people don’t face you and so on.

If you think the assessment hasn’t been carried out properly contact our Freephone Helpline by emailing  or chatting online at livechat.

Find out more

Check out this DWP video in BSL

Related Articles

National Deaf Children's Society

Registered Charity: England and Wales (1016532) and Scotland (SC040779)

Helpline: 0808 800 8880

Please follow & like us :)

Visit Us
Follow Me