Documents released by the DWP under the Freedom of Information Act explain the circumstances under which you can get a family member, carer, friend or support worker to replace you at your PIP telephone assessment.
According to the document, health professionals “can carry out the assessment with the claimant’s representative (family member or other third party) where prior consent is given”.
It is important to note that this is not about claimants who have an official appointee who is already legally entitled to make representations on their behalf. This is about a one-off arrangement which is put in place solely for the purpose of completing a single PIP assessment.
The main reasons set out for letting someone else do the assessment on your behalf are:
because you don’t have access to a phone;
because you have persistent phone connection issues which make completing a telephone assessment impossible;
for reasons connected with your health condition/disability.
The document gives no explanation as to what reasons connected with a health condition or disability would be sufficient to allow a third party to do the telephone assessment instead.
But clearly issues such as severe anxiety, depression or an autism spectrum disorder which makes communication by telephone extremely limited would all be possibilities. There are likely to be many others.
Consent for the arrangement has to be obtained both from the claimant and from the person who is to be their representative. This can be done over the phone, it doesn’t have to be in writing and it can take place at any time before or during a telephone assessment.
The conversation between the health professional and the representative can be part of a three way call between all the parties or just between the health professional and the representative.
The person chosen by the claimant as their representative has to know the claimant well and know how their health condition or disability affects their mobility and their ability to carry out daily living activities.
This might be your partner, a close relative, a carer, a friend or an advice worker or someone similar who has been given detailed evidence about how your condition affects you.
Even if the representative can’t answer every question asked by the health professional, their input may be sufficient to allow a decision to be made.
If this is something that you think would allow a more informed decision to be made in your case, it would be a good idea to inform the DWP as soon as you get a date for a telephone assessment.
It is entirely possible that there will be considerable resistance to the idea and there is no legal right to have such an arrangement made.
But the fact that it is DWP policy means that a request cannot legitimately be refused without giving any reason or on grounds that are unfair or discriminatory.
If you are not happy with the response you get from the assessment provider, consider making a formal complaint and involving you local MP’s office from the outset.
You can download the document named ‘Guidance limited evidence decisions’ from the What do They Know website.