Health professionals, including GPs, nurses, physiotherapists or occupational therapists, are employed by the Health Assessment Advisory Service (HAAS) to assess the effects of any health condition or disability on your ability to carry out a range of everyday activities. The assessments are normally undertaken at a nationwide network of venues.

Most face-to-face assessments were suspended due to coronavirus, though they are being reintroduced from May 2021 for some claimants. You are most likely to have a telephone assessment instead, though some assessments will be on paper only and video assessments are being introduced.

You can reclaim your travel expenses and those of a companion, if you need one. If you can’t travel by public transport, you can claim for taxi fares with prior approval. You will need a doctor’s letter confirming you are unable to use public transport. If you are not able to travel to the venue, you should ask for the assessment to be carried out in your home but, again, you will need a doctor’s letter.

You should be given seven days’ notice of the date of the medical. If you are unable to go, you should inform the office that arranged the medical straight away. If you fail to attend, you will be treated as being capable of work, and you will not be paid UC, unless you can show you have a good reason for not attending.

The assessment is carried out using a computer-based questionnaire. You are likely to be asked questions about how you travelled to the assessment centre and how you intend to travel back. It is important to explain any difficulties you had with the journey. It is also important to tell the health professional about your abilities to perform certain functions and the difficulties you have. If your condition or ability varies from day to day – remember to say so. If you can only perform an activity with pain or it causes tiredness, either that day or in the following days, remember to mention this. It is the effect of your condition over time, not just on the day of your assessment that should be taken into account.

You can ask for the medical assessment to be audio recorded. However, a request will only be considered if it is made in advance.

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