A government minister has committed themselves to ‘urgently investigating’ alleged assessment tricks used by PIP and WCA assessors after they were raised by MPs at a meeting of the work and pensions committee last week.  We’re asking if you have had a similar experience?

Chloe Smith, minister for disabled people gave the undertaking to investigate after Dr Ben Spencer gave three examples of “covert assessment” raised by claimants at public meetings he had attended.

The first involved missing water cups, Spencer explained:

“One was there was water available at the assessment centre, the water cooler did not have any cups, but one down the corridor did. It was deliberate that the water cooler was broken or cups were not available to see if a person was able to walk beyond the first water cooler to get some water.”

“Another one was that lifts were broken deliberately, seemingly to assess that people were able to use the stairs.”

The third suspected ruse was a pen drop:

 “One person described the assessor dropping a pen in front of them—I think it was a pen or something like that—to see if the person would pick it up as part of a covert assessment effectively of their mobility.”

Spencer asked the minister “Would you commit to urgently investigating this to confirm whether this is indeed an accurate reflection of practices that are going on at the assessments?”

Smith responded:  “Yes, and if I may add on the example of the lift, I am also keen that all of our facilities are properly accessible. It would be unacceptable to have a deliberately broken lift so, yes, we will look into those.”

Of course, all of these may be perfectly innocent.  It may be that the nearest water cooler ran out of cups first, that the lift really was broken and that the assessor genuinely dropped their pen.

The real proof that these were dirty tricks is if they were used in assessment reports where the claimant was supposedly caught out by them.

But anything connected with the DWP is treated with such suspicion by many claimants that innocent explanations are the least likely to be accepted.

Other issues raised by MPS included what was described as the widespread practice whereby  claimants with a “severe visual impairment have to read letters off a chart at their assessment? Do you think that is acceptable? Do you think it builds trust?”

Another complaint was the lack of specialist knowledge displayed by some assessors.  One complaint received by MPS was that:

“The assessment was completed by a nurse that had never heard of my condition. She said she Googled it 5 minutes before seeing me. You cannot understand a complex condition with a 5 min

Google.”

Have you experienced something that you thought was a dirty trick or particularly bad practice at an assessment.  Let us know in the comments below.

You can watch the full committee hearing or read the transcript here.

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  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Jen Knox · 6 days ago
    They sent me to an assessment centre with broken paving outside and really heavy doors 
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    Deborah Wenn · 9 days ago
    I have experienced assessors telling blatant lies on assessments to stop people getting the benefits they are entitled too, and it’s terrible situation that needs investigating although I’m disabled I help others with their forms and do their mandatory reconsideration and have been to court with a few if it doesn’t win on mandatory, but my own assessor told lies and I went from high rate  mobility and high rate care to enhanced mobility because I’m a wheelchair user and standard care although I had my care plan that she refused to even look at, I sent off a mandatory reconsideration and didn’t hear anything for months then when I rang I was told that they hadn’t received it and I was out of time, then in December I had to do a review and same award even though I previously got 11 points and had been fitted with a hearing aid which should have been the extra point I needed, it was totally dismissed as though it hadn’t been included so I have done another mandatory as I received my decision in June 22, this morning I have some money in my account from them but it looks like it’s only been backdated until June as it’s less than £200, so can I ask if this is correct does anyone know or should it have been backdated to December when the form went in, surely we can’t be penalised for their delays in completing the review 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    k Gray · 10 days ago
    My friend has no recent history of mental health problems.

    The assessor  was told that despite being bedridden by cfs that his  mood was good.
    The DWP  asserted several times that claimant had depression. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    k Gray · 10 days ago
    One person I helped is in bed 20-23 hours per day. They continually asked how far he can walk when we explained he’d not been out of the house apart from 3 occasions to the dentist and doctor . 
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    Graswarb · 10 days ago
    yes, my pip assessment was a joke. I suffer from neuropathy in my feet and hands. Nothing about my illness in any forms. all questions for me on this form did not relate to me and I was refused. I am not holding out a begging bowl by appealing. Anxiety takes over. Useless service. How many other people like myself are not getting what they deserve? I would love for one so-called assessor to walk in my shoes just for 1 hour.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Liv · 11 days ago
    After my claim was refused, one of the reasons was that the assessor didn't hear any anxiety in my voice(telephone assessment). Well, no, probably not because I'd had to take diazepam and propanol on top of my usual meds, just to answer the phone call. And I had my support worker with me. I did get awarded after a mandatory review 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Coln · 11 days ago
    This was for ESA and for PIP assessment. Not had any tape recorders in assessment yet but this should help all the mistakes of what they write down. I'm glad this is happening. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Coln · 11 days ago
    Entrance to the Disability centre was right at the back had go through Few doors get there. Seem to be office rooms that were empty on my way. Appointment times are always late stuck there for over 30 minutes at times on chair tho had get up to move few times yet you say this to the person it's discarded straight away. They have my number why not call and say we running 30 minutes plus late ? They get you sign are you happy how it went when you come out at the desk. You tell them about had wait over 30 minutes and was in pain but none of this was recorded in the assessment stages or the final result. 
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    AniD · 13 days ago
    The toilet at the assessment centre was down a corridor, through a heavy door, on the far side of a waiting area. Three times during my interview I had to make this laborious journey. I suffer from urinary frequency. 

    You could just see the delight in the assessor's eyes, following me like a hungry fox as I limped down there, propping myself against the wall and using my walking stick.

    The fact that I was so pained and exhausted each time I had to do the rest of the interview lying down was not noted. In fact, rather than record my bladder issues she remarked on my excellent mobility and that the shape of my legs correlated with those of someone who walks on a regular basis.  

    It must have been all those bedridden hours/days/years I spent thrashing about in pain that gave me such shapely legs!

    Of course the DWP took the word of the assessor, a mental health nurse, over that of expert neurologists in deciding to reduce my high mobility rate to zero. Next time I'm assessed, I will bring a container and just pee right there ;)  (In which case she will probably note how good I am at traveling because I came prepared) 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    admail@aglarond.co.uk · 14 days ago
    At my last assessment the Health Professional recorded accurately what I said about bathing/showering which was "I aim for 2 showers a week' they didn't record what I and my wife said that I never managed it. When it came to the descriptor justifications I was quoted as saying "I showered twice a week". This was just one of many misrepresentations.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Karenjperry · 14 days ago
    I have been asked at every assessment why I have not committed suicide? Is this a genuine question. I get the feeling they don't care and just wish you would follow through. If I was going to do it I certainly wouldn't tell anyone. Can someone please tell my why they ask. 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Deo · 4 days ago
      @Karenjperry I believe it’s the choice of words that was used!

      You are asked at assessments to know your protective factors: though having the suicidal ideations what’s stopped you from acting on the thoughts? Is it because of the traumatic experience of what your family might go through, would the thoughts of your Children, parents, niece, nephew, partner stop you? 

      Sometimes people express such ideations because they struggle with their mental health and need help to manage the risk,  want to feel safe possibly in a hospital environment where they can be monitored 24/7 for a period of time. 


    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Maxine · 8 days ago
      @Karenjperry I don't know why they ask it, but I was asked this at my assessment too. Given that I was already struggling with suicidal ideation and severe depression, that did not leave me in a good state. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Elaine pye · 15 days ago
    At my assessment I was asked for identification I couldn't get my driving licence out of purse and asked my husband to get it out for me after struggling for a few minutes.  But when I asked for a copy of the report it clearly stated that I got my identification out without any problem !
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Mick · 15 days ago
    Totally out of the blue telephone assessment, no warning whatsoever.
    however I was awarded the highest rate on both parts but could have just as easily been unprepared for the call.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Bernadette Iannidinardi · 16 days ago
    At my first assessment the lady asked me what a Pulmonary Embolism was? I asked her what was her experience was?  She replied a nurse. But then continued to ask me to explain my condition. She totally didn’t have a ideas PM. 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      denby · 14 days ago
      @Bernadette Iannidinardi No wonder she wasn't working in a hospital any more, if she didn't know what a Pulmonary Embolism is she is a danger to patients who deserves to be struck off. Idea: do Atos/Capita etc employ staff who have been struck off or sacked???
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    W · 16 days ago
    It will be a criminal offence to claim benefits in the future.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Andy · 17 days ago
    In the report of my assessment they said I'd told them I could use a microwave to warm food. We haven't got a microwave, so obviously I didn't say that. If we did have a microwave, I probably wouldn't be able to use it. It was just an outright lie from the assessor
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Susan · 17 days ago
    the assessor i had tried to say i threatened him and would not continue the appointment. i was sat 2 metre away and he was hiding behind his computer this still going through the complaints stage. But he also lied on his paperwork. i was so upset when i left as i didnt know what i had done wrong. All i did was try to break the deadly silence by saying i dont understand why people have to go through this when the disability or illness are for life and in the past i have been through appeals and always won. Apparently APPEAL is a threatening word. He was a complete and utter joke.

    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      AniD · 13 days ago
      @Susan Yes, assessors very easily view themselves as the victims! My fast-talking assessor kept asking me leading questions and answering them herself, hastening to write her own replies before I'd even opened my mouth! When I jokingly pointed this out, she prickled. She warned, "Don't abuse me!" then kept right on using the same method. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Martin O’Brien · 17 days ago
    Telephone Assessment 

    The pretend to be your best friend ruse , then n
    have the nerve to ask , Did you buy your own
    Crutches.  This after a broken Femur .
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Ms W · 17 days ago
    Just wondering….
    Is there a list of questions that assessors are meant to ask?
    can you film the interview or just record it?

    Can you ask them their qualifications in being able to complete assessments?

    Can they physically touch you?

    Is there anything they are really not allowed to do ( but do it)

     Aren’t buildings supposed to be accessible to disabled, if not aren’t they breaking the law?
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Ms W · 17 days ago
    I was asked to get out of my wheelchair ( had no Zimmer frame with me) my leg in a full splint from top to bottom and asked to try and walk or hop!?!? I was asked if I had a dog?(I assume walking it)I was asked at the very end (when going through the door onto the street)to sign my statement, I didn’t get full disability because I used a pen, I said in the assessment I couldn’t open a tin. They penalised me for the use of a pen. I was followed out to the car park, it was my husband who noticed this, she watched from a distance to watch me transfer into the car.

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