Claimants who fail to attend a PIP telephone assessment will face having their claim ended, in spite of the pandemic, the DWP revealed in its pre-Christmas edition of Touchbase.

When telephone assessments were introduced for PIP last March, the DWP undertook not to take any action against claimants who did not attend a scheduled assessment.

However, from the week commencing 14 December the DWP have said that:

“PIP telephone assessment appointment letters will make it clear that claimants must attend their telephone appointment. FTA [Failure To Attend] action will apply, e.g. benefit may be stopped for those who have been issued with this letter and fail to attend without good reason.”

The DWP have said that no-one will have their support stopped without being contacted first to ask them to explain why they didn’t attend.

However, if the claimant cannot show a good reason why they didn’t attend, or didn’t take part in, their assessment then their PIP is likely to be stopped.

There is a right of appeal against any such decision.

Worryingly, Benefits and Work has heard from claimants who never received a call from the assessor, in spite of waiting by their telephone at the correct time. In some cases the assessor then claimed that they had repeatedly called the claimant but not received an answer.

For example, one claimant told us:

“Capita did not call. My appointment was at 11.45, I waited and no call was received. I phoned them at 1215hrs and was told that I had failed to attend for my assessment and that they had called 3 times! I was sat with my phone waiting for the call. They then blamed it on Vodafone saying they must have blocked them. I confirmed with Vodafone that no blocks are on my line.”

Another member told us:

“I received my letter on Thursday 4th June, informing me of an appointment on Monday 8th June. I didn’t receive my call at the scheduled time, so called the help centre 10 minutes after my appointment should have started. The person I spoke to advised that I was called 3 times on Friday 5th June as a prep call but that I didn’t answer. There is no notification in the letter that this would take place and I explained that I don’t answer calls from unknown/withheld numbers unless I am expecting such a call and if they had informed me in the letter to expect a prep call, then I would have answered.”

Yet another member told us:

“Appointment at 11.45am. Called capita at 12.05 an was told assessor had rang 3 times and no answer, no missed calls on my phone. I didn’t receive any and was told assessor no wrote no show, made complaint to customer services as to what happened and why recorded as a no show.”

There is detailed advice in our PIP claims guide on how to prepare for a telephone assessment, including what action to take if the call doesn’t arrive and how to obtain evidence from Capita and IAS (Atos) that will help to show whether any calls were actually made.

You can view the 18 December edition of Touchbase here

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