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


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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    Angela · 2 months ago
    I lost my job 6 weeks ago work there part time as a cleaner for 6 years I’ve suffered bad aches in both of my legs menopause under stress uc sent me a letter to fill in for pip I’m not good at filling forms and understanding them so citizen advice made me a appointment to get help filling in as they needed the letter back on the 14 August I phoned them to see if they would wait just a few days for my forms and they said yes not a problem a few days after I received a letter saying they need it back by the date on my form phoned them again and told me they need now urgently he sound a bit nasty down the phone won’t mind it took them to phone me 3weeks I’ve done my phone assement now I lost got to work i broke down felt sick don’t know who  to turn to I have hospital appointment coming up so left a note in my journal for uc and ask them for an appeal 
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    Aloua · 2 months ago
    To everyone tricked, or pure lies being told about them, or Atos/Capita HCP's not listening and coming to their own conclusions rather than the facts - FIGHT IT. Don't give up. My adult child is autistic. The assessment was in our home, it was a transfer from DLA which was awarded in childhood, to PIP at 16 years of age. The HCP invented things that simply weren't said or done. We had a Mandatory Reconsideration, which we lost. So we appealed. We won our appeal and my child was awared enhanced rate for both components, with an ongoing award. My child also received just over £13,000 (yes, thirteen THOUSAND pounds) in owed backpayments. Please, NEVER give up. Don't let them beat you down. Only YOU know how your conditions/illnesses affect you. 
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    Aaron · 3 months ago
    I recently was assessed and the HP clearly admitted she had not and was not interested in reading my initial PIP questionnaire. She made “informal judgements” on my ability to communicate. However didn’t ask me any open questions at all, only closed to which I then received a decision letter saying I could clearly communicate my problems. Had she had read the questionnaire the first page states my support worker helped me with my forms as I’m unable to take written questions into perspective due to anxiety and irlen syndrome. This was just shocking 
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    Ian · 4 months ago
    I have just had to have a new assessment for PIP completed as the first one was covertly recorded and it caught out the Atos nurse committing serious fraud in her report on me which cost me over 300 pounds a month to date, I am still fighting this, Atos offered me 50 pounds compensation for the nurses act to which I flat out refused and am now seeking legal advice with a plan to sue Atos for this
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    Kam · 4 months ago
    Just had letter that my mum scored 0 points. She walks 7 hours a day at work??? Shes 66 with a walking stick. Blue badge, disabled bay, grab rails in shower and toilet and can’t collect her own medication or go anywhere in community without me driving her. She can barely walk to the car. 0 points and made her sound like a world class athlete. Im furious. 
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    fitzk · 5 months ago
     I have just had my telephone assessment,  the assessor laughed at not being able to say degenerative disc disease.  Twice.   Also when asked - can I plan and follow a journey.   I said i can’t leave the house without someone so i don’t plan journeys.   The assessor said - this i cognitive not mobility.   Can you plan a journey.   I said yes, but it’s not applicable as I don’t leave the house with someone.   Trying to make it about cognition when it’s about being able to make a journey.   
    How long could I walk for.   Well i can’t without stopping a lot. But that was twisted.   
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    Sal · 6 months ago
    Hello, had a phone assesment followed by mandatory reconsideration(so far) both adamant that constant pain when walking only scores 8 and both insistent I use aids(I cannot as I have problems with grip and pain in both hands plus a frozen shoulder on one side plus an unhealed broken arm(of over 2 years)on the other(from one of my frequent bad falls) so arms are bit limited and painful to use) none of this seems to meet beyond  lowest rate according to them. Wonder how they would cope themselves though. So many lies too, such a horrible thing to endure over and over, I get so depressed I wonder why I am still here. The pain is enough to deal with without DWP bullies on top
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    Cate · 6 months ago
    I had a face to face assessment in 2018 and the assessor asked if I could lift my leg. I said only with my hands as it's semi paralysed (as I sat there in my wheelchair). My report came back to say I could lift my leg, full stop. Bunch of persistent liers.
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    Tracy · 8 months ago
    My mother has neuropathy in her feet damaged by chemo therapy, I tried to explain to capita assessor that a 5 minute walk can turn into 20 minutes to get there , as per stopping and starting a lot. they said she could walk for 20 minutes. Mum complained to dwp only to be fobbed off to write to capita! that got her no where except a hearsay match!
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    Neil cowie · 8 months ago
    I have chronic anxiety and my assessor thought I was able to communicate on the phone how can they tell your condition over the telephone my condition makes me unable to go out of my house without out it causing anxiety as in crowed places I am very anxious and even if I was in a car I would be very anxious and I only got awarded the standard rate of mobility and didn’t even get daily living and I am so fed up as they treat us like criminals when we are unable to work and other people who have nothing wrong with them get it and work as well I am really annoyed and feel I’ve been awarded wrongly
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    Pete · 8 months ago
    I had heart attack last year I am waiting for triple bypass, it as left me with numerous issues short of breath aching limbs I need a stick just to get up my life changed over night also I had other issues mentally . Was advised by my doctor and hospital nurses to apply for pip was assessed over phone. Absolutely twisted everything I said was turned down saying I could continue my everyday life as normal and could see no reason why I could not drive, so I mandortory appealed some one wrote on my behalf pointing out there mistakes, I then received an unscheduled phone call where I had to answer questions all over again then was told my daughter could look after me I was awarded £25 a week I then rang to complain and was told know one should have rung me and there not sure what as happend ask them to check there recording’s and was told they didn’t have any , even though they put down I said I could do most things my self and I could put my self on bus if needed, the best laugh is my heart doctor only on strick conditions one be I didn’t stray from home I had someone to watch me they released me from hospital they said I could take a bath and go to work, thank god these people don’t work in a hospital we would all be dead and they are not even qualified to assess let alone diagnose, if I lied like they have I would have been dragged in front of a judge , basically if you lie you get pip if you genuinely are entitled to it and tell truth you don’t get it, welcome to new corrupt government and country once known as England 
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    L · 8 months ago
    I had a pip assessment over the phone( depression and anxiety) he asked me what I do all , I explained I am sleeping nearly all day. He’s said do you watch telly all day ? I said no , sometimes go on my flight sim, but I don’t enjoy it I just fly around aimlessly . When the report came back he’d put that I play video games all day ! I am 52 years old, worked all my life , struggled with my mental health all my life and all this pip assessment did was made me feel like a total idiot.
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      Lisa · 15 days ago
      @L I wonder if you was awarded anything?  as I have anxiety depression and complex ptsd . I am waiting for a desicion but it is causing my anxiety to peak. I feel sick everyday , constantly thinking about it. Did I say the right things? What will I do if I'm rejected? I'm worried about my MH because I've been in a deep depression for almost 2yrs and not sure I can take anymore negatively. 

      Thank you in advance. 

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    Barry morgan · 9 months ago
    An assessor carried out an assesment for my daughter over the phone he claimed he was a doctor but later after thinking about the call we have serious doubts he asked her very personal questions and did not let her explain any of her answers he wanted a specific answer and would not listen to any further explication 
    When the report came back he awarded 9 point and found her fit to work 
    She has contested the decision and requested a copy of the report which arrived today we are all shocked at the manipulation of her answers and the lies the assessor has printed he also omitted certain things that affect my daughters ability to carry out simple day to day tasks and belittled help she needs from her family implying that her family are interfering 
    This should be stopped the assesors should face criminal charges it is putting people under unfair and cruel stress that is not necessary and is alienating them from their own doctor by saying that they will not accept any further notes from her own doctor 
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    Bobby Binns · 1 years ago
    I suffer from alcholism and a lot of other health problems phisical and mental probable caused by working from a young age delivering craits af milk at 11 and delivering bags of coal at 13 then working in a butchers at 15 all involing heavy lifting, which is the story all my life. I found that the nurse interviewing me and sending Q & A back to me were completely the wrong answers I gave' also the nurse didnt know the first thing about alcholism
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    tom · 1 years ago
    Sometimes By attending their assessment centres is  an own goal ( used against you)
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    pawz · 1 years ago
    I had a dirty trick played on me by assessor.
    The assessor phoned me up 3 times to keep changing my appointment time , although every time I put the phone down after the assess  phoned , getting stressed and frustrated, then  having to scribble out the time and  write the new time down. 😤
    They did not believe that I had issues with sudden changes in time I'm all because I did not lose my temper and have a meltdown on the phone because of the sudden changes.
    Due to the fact it has taken me years to stop having  verbally  outbursts, when appointments and other things in my life  get changed for various innocent reasons,  to accept and be polite to people , that changes happen.
    And to take out my stress and frustration over these changes in a more productive and healthier way, by doing exercise, cleaning, gardening, any things that distracts me and calms me down, so that I then can process the new times of the appointment and to talk it over with someone.
    Has my appointment time had changed an item up at the time the assessor asked me to buy the many phone calls they made to myself.
    I was left waiting for over 2 hours
    Which was then my original appointment time I'm to have my face to face!
    I was left in the waiting room stressing getting feel full my anxiety through the roof as I thought I had cocked up my appointment time.
    The assessment only took half an hour, within weeks was told that I was refused my pip renewal?
    I appealed and it was overturned by a tribunal judge who asked about these phone calls and I explained to the judge that I turned up on the time , that the assessor asked me to attended the appointment on that the last phone call  she made to me altering the time again.
    I explained to the judge that after many years of therapy, I have learnt not too to have verbal outbursts either face-to-face or on the phone with people as it makes things worse and I get blacklisted!
    The judge also asked me why why do I think the assessor lied?
    I answered the judge by saying I don't know you need to ask the people that are doing the assessments?
    This has Mel left me even more distrusting of DWP p.and professional people that are supposed to be supporting people with mental health issues not making them worse.
    This has left a very bitter taste in my mouth, I am dreading it, when  it is assessment time again.
    What lies are they going to come up with next, when it comes to my my health issues.

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      Aloua · 2 months ago
      @Another Don't worry - appeal. The appeal is actually more relaxed than the assessment. There are 3 people there, a judge, a doctor and a person who works in the medical field in some capacity (nurse, support worker, psychologist, social worker etc). You can take somebody with you and they can speak on your behalf if you become overwhelmed. The 3 decision makers then talk about your appeal in great detail and all 3 have to come to the same decision, whilst you sit outside the court room. Then you're called back in and they tell you their decision. A high percentage of appeals are won, so please don't give up. We won the appeal for our adult child.
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      Another · 10 months ago
      @pawz Hey I have mental health issues similar to the ones u explained but I have been turned down for pip any advice on taking it to tribunal as I have no idea how yo express myself
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    Sue quinn · 1 years ago
    I suffer with very complex health problems. On my last assessment I was informed that the assessor never had time to read my health report because it was to long and would of taken her all day. 
    After a very upsetting assessment as this assessor went on about my mental health problems and my childhood SA. She could see I was distraught having to answer and relive this but carried on regardless. 
    When my health problems ( severe cronic pain) were ignored, I scored no points for my my mental health neither did I for my getting about even though I cannot walk due to severe pain. I told the assessor I was suicidal dye to sever pain 24/7, scored nil points. 
    There was another of lies and exadurations plus my assessment was running 1 hour late. 
    When I got my report bk and I seen what had been written j was so annoyed over the lies.
    I asked for a reconsideration but it was up held. Appealed the decision, the closer it came to my hearing, I recieved a phone call from pip over my claim asking me if I was still appealing I said yes, within 10 minutes of talking and explaining about my medical problems I rescued full pip for mobility and carers. 
    Why do they do ghus knowing you will win on appeal.
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    Sharron · 1 years ago
    My husband went to an assessment and after asking was given a cup of water by a member of staff with an arm missing, now I’m wondering if that was deliberate guilt tripping 
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    Rachel · 1 years ago
    It would be very useful if the people a Benefits and Work could answer some of the desperate people on this forum - is that not what it is for?
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    Kris · 1 years ago
    I was forced to endure a telephone assessment even though they knew my fear of speaking on the phone is so severe that I have only plugged my landline in 19 times in 13 years and the the distress it causes me has always been listed and supported by medical evidence in all previous re-assessments.I was so afraid of having my money stopped that I agreed but said I could only do so if I drank lots of alcohol which inturn makes me sick as I only ever drink if I have to see or talk to anyone other than my family.which is also well documented.I went without any sleep for 2 nights spent 3 days drinking enough  vodka and water to give me the courage to talk on the phone,followed by vomiting then repeat.The lady conducting the assessment was aware that I would be drinking heavily both prior to and during the call.The end result was having my payments reduced.My previous assessements have always been face to face and due to the nature of my condition have been conducted in my home and I have always been awarded the higher rate for the past 8yrs.I didn't even appeal because I felt so bullied and then after the result i felt both betrayed and conned as the only difference from previous assessments was being forced to use a phone regardless that my absolute terror of answering and the distress it causes me was known yet ignored.
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      Kris · 2 months ago
      @Kris Despite the fact that on my renewal form I had pleaded with them for a face to face assessment and detailed the horrendous effects that the last telephone assessment had on me,They are making me do it again!I told them that I lost half a stone over the week before and the week after and Ive never regained my appitite and conseqently I have lost a further stone in weight and most of my teeth and my hair but they have just ignored it.I just cant face it again so I am just going to give up.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Kel · 9 months ago
      @Kris What is your illness of you don'tind me asking 
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