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PIP assessment next week, any advice

brighidbrighid Member Posts: 23 Connected
Hi guys, I’ve applied for PIP and have assessment next week. Anyone got any advice on what to expect or how best to prepare. 
Had a diagnosis of fibromyalgia and depression last year and have now lost my job as too ill to work now.
I don’t have much evidence apart from copy of my notes which are not very informative, just confirming diagnosis really. And an occupational therapy report for work, the assessment was just over the phone. I haven’t sent these in can I take them to the assessment? And how helpful are they likely to be.
as my symptoms have only recently become severe enough to become unmanageable I don’t have much medical history. It is so bad I thought it was some neurological condition like MS, so insisted on referral to neurologist, appointment was last week and neurologist said it’s not neurological, but has sent me for mri just to be sure. 
Im a bit of mess tbh, my partner has to care for me and I can barely walk.
any advice welcome

Replies

  • curiousmom1996curiousmom1996 Posts: 35 Member
    Here are some of my tips:

    Ask for support prior to the assessment. This can be a good friend or family member too. They can sit there and take notes. 

    Read the guidance provided by the assessor. Be sure you understand everything. Ask questions if you don’t. 

    Take a copy of the application form and any supporting evidence too. This includes letters etc. 

    Tell them ever they need to know. Don’t naively assume that they have read your notes. Include all the facts.

    Make sure that you arrive safely and on time. 

  • MatildaMatilda Member Posts: 2,616 Disability Gamechanger
    In the 'Search' box type in 'PIP assessments' and a list of advice articles will appear.

    I suggest you don't dress up - people are very influenced by what they see.  Minimal make up and jewellery.

    The assessor will watch your every move from when they collect you from the waiting area.  They know how many meters it is from waiting area to assessment room.  They'll watch how you walk.

    You might be asked how you travelled to the assessment.  Travel by public transport could suggest a low level of disability.

    In the assessment room, they'll note if you put a bag down on the floor and pick it up again later.  

    They might ask trick questions such as about pets and hobbies.  Looking after pets could suggest a high level of energy and organisation.  Certain hobbies, such as crafts, could suggest considerable manual dexterity.

    They might ask for how long can you walk rather than how far.  Just giving a time might make them think you can walk farther than you can.  Say that it takes you X seconds or minutes to walk Y meters.  DWP think that 45 seconds to walk 20m is very slow walking.

    You might be asked about how much you drive.  Driving a lot could suggest a low level of daily living needs - as driving requires concentration, energy, strength, co-ordination, manual dexterity.

    Good luck next week :).
  • brighidbrighid Member Posts: 23 Connected
    Thanks, my partner is going with me. 
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,601 Disability Gamechanger
    The start of this is a direct copy of a post on another thread. The end is a further post I’ve posted repeatedly too.

    @matilda has actually posted several times in the past about dressing down for assessments until other views were expressed by such as myself. The no make up line was a part, but only a part, of that. 

    However, I wholly agree with @poppy123456 but would express it slightly differently. I think being yourself is about being as comfortable as you can be in unfamiliar circumstances so that you are relaxed enough to give calm, well thought out clear answers to the best of your ability. That will obviously vary with personality and impairment so there is no once size fits all "don't do this" or "definitely do that". Do whatever will leave you as relaxed as you can be at a stressful time.  

    Additional to that:

    The assessment does not start in the waiting area at all. The PIP assessment providers guidance from DWP is explicit it start from the moment you enter the building. I will also say that whilst HCPs say they observed you doing many things they are easily confused between cases and the one thing I can guarantee is that they consistently mis-cite the distance from waiting room to assessment room. 

    Travel to the venue as you need to but you need to be very clear how; who with; where to got off/out; how long it took from there and so on. None of this is about how you present. It’s all about what you say; what they note and what you allow them to note/don’t correct no matter what else you hear. 

    There are absolutely no trick questions at all. The HCPs have a limited time to assess you and may not even have had time to read your claim pack so any question which helps assess more than one descriptor is hugely useful. Pets, holidays, driving and hobbies are all illustrative. The key is to focus your answers on emphasising that, where you can do stuff, you can’t do it reliably, safely, reliably or repeatedly. 

    Now, from another previous post (one point repeats).

    1) Be aware that the assessment starts as soon as you arrive at the assessment centre rather than when you get to the assessment room. This is legitimate and written into provider guidance written by the DWP.

    2) The assessment will be explained at the outset and you’ll be asked if you consent to what’s about to happen. If it’s PIP - They will assume that you have also consented to functional assessments but their guidance says they need separate consent for those and should only do them if they don’t have fully up to date functional information. If you think they do then you could decline to consent to functional testing albeit that that risks them recording that you declined to participate. 

    3) If you’re going alone then take a copy of your claim pack with you to remind you what you said or, if you don’t have that, take a bullet point list of which points you’re asking for. Ask them to read back what they’ve noted. If they won’t then ask them which activities they’ve recommended points on. They’ve no obligation to tell you how many points but there’s nothing to stop them identifying the Brian areas like cooking etc. This helps you to query it there and then if you think they’ve missed anything. 

    4) Make a clear note of start and end time and of building layout. How many steps from the entrance etc? 

    5) Do not take medical evidence with you that should have or did go in with the claim pack? Send it to the DWP decision maker if it didn’t go in with the claim pack.

    6) If it’s ESA then answer specific questions about what you can do by saying “I can’t do repeatedly, safely or or in a work context, because... “. Whichever of those applies. If it’s PIP then it’s “reliably, repeatedly, safely or in a reasonable time”.

    7) Keep in mind that there is no magic wand. There’s nothing you can do to guarantee that a HCP interpretation is the same as yours. Therefore there’s no benefit in dressing a certain way or behaving as though you’re having your worst day ever and you’re like that all the time. Spell out variations. They’re the most compelling evidence you have. Give examples of experiences you’ve had when trying to describe why you can’t do a specific activity. 

    8) Think of this as the starting point not the end point. It’s a stage you have to go through but there are lots of other stages if it doesn’t immediately work out aspect you hope.

  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    When you're given advice "not to dress up" take that advice with a pinch of salt. My advice, be the person you always are and not someone you're not. Good luck.
    Proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice I have given to members here on the community.
  • MatildaMatilda Member Posts: 2,616 Disability Gamechanger
    I wouldn't take the advice 'not to dress up' with a pinch of salt.  Disability Rights UK advise people not to dress up when attending PIP appeal hearings.  I suggest the same advice holds good for assessments.
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,601 Disability Gamechanger
    News to me.

    https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/default/files/word/PIPGuidetoclaiming1May2018.docx

    Lets be blunt about this. DRUK forged links with this government which many disabled people found and find abhorrent meaning as it did that they were perceived by many until recently as being apologists for policies exactly like the PIP process. They also produce a decent handbook but it’s also fair to say that most working in welfare rights find it good in some areas and very weak in others. It’s a good starting point but in its desire to simplify it is often inadvertently misleading. 

    To use one of @Matilda favourite phrases, people can think for themselves. 

  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    Advising people to dress differently to how they always dress, whether it's an assessment or a Tribunal is the worst advice i've heard, whether it came disability rights or not.
    Proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice I have given to members here on the community.
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,601 Disability Gamechanger
    Be fair @poppy123456 what about 

    - you don’t need a rep because I didn’t, or the evergreen.
    - put down what you’re like on your worst day.

  • susan48susan48 Member Posts: 2,229 Disability Gamechanger
    Dress and look as you normally do, be comfortable in what you wear. It’s stressful enough without giving yourself more things to be anxious about.
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    @mikehughescq oh dear!  Can i change my comment to... advising people to dress differently to how they always dress, is ONE of the worst bits of advice i've heard.
    Proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice I have given to members here on the community.
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,601 Disability Gamechanger
  • MatildaMatilda Member Posts: 2,616 Disability Gamechanger
    Disability rights advising people not to dress up is not advising them to dress differently to the way they usually do (unless they habitually dress up, of course, and not many disabled people do).  Rather the opposite - it's telling people not to make any special effort with their appearance for hearings and assessments.

    This is a bit subtle, of course, but I think the reasoning behind Disability Rights' advice (which poppy thinks is one of the worst bits of advice she's heard - from Disability Rights) is that people have a tendency to dress more smartly than usual for important meetings.  However, DR say they should not do this for appeal hearings and, by implication, assessments.

    I have confidence in Disability Rights even if poppy doesn't.

    People reading posts can make up their own minds about them - posts tend to speak for themselves.
  • YadnadYadnad Posts: 2,856 Member
    All I can say on this subject is that I dress differently every day all depending on what I am doing and who I am seeing.

    Some days I'm in my PJ's until mid afternoon, some days in my work suit, other days looking something akin to Michael Portillo. Some days I may change two/three times especially when I have different meetings.

    Ideally I would want to wear BDU's as I do at weekends when I go out shooting.

    Given that lot what should I have worn for my face to face assessments?
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,601 Disability Gamechanger
    I think we’ve established people will make up their own minds. 

    The DRUK advice is poor as, contrary to your unevidenced assertion that most disabled people don’t habitually dress up, the opposite is true. It’s based on an assumption that disability is visible disability or physical disability. Most disability is invisible. The issue, as @poppy123456 and I have already suggested is about ensuring people are comfortable enough to be relaxed and be at their best. Telling people that dressing up is a bad idea is dumb no matter who propagates the idea. There is simply no one size fits all. 
  • YadnadYadnad Posts: 2,856 Member
    edited August 2018
    I think we’ve established people will make up their own minds. 

    The DRUK advice is poor as, contrary to your unevidenced assertion that most disabled people don’t habitually dress up, the opposite is true. It’s based on an assumption that disability is visible disability or physical disability. Most disability is invisible. The issue, as @poppy123456 and I have already suggested is about ensuring people are comfortable enough to be relaxed and be at their best. Telling people that dressing up is a bad idea is dumb no matter who propagates the idea. There is simply no one size fits all. 
    I agree. Dress in anyway that will make you feel comfortable and calm. In my case the assessors that I had looked like they had just rolled out of bed (all three were pre 10am) whilst I turned up in various guises as though it was to be a professional/civic meeting 
    It didn't do me any good though - all three reported that I had no disabilities and deserved no points.
  • brighidbrighid Member Posts: 23 Connected
    Thanks for for the advice. I will dress how I usually dress, which is pretty basic to be fair. I struggle with buttons zips etc so it pretty much restricts me to leggings and and pull on top or dress, which is what I will wear. I do not wear makeup and jewellery anyway... thanks for advice about pets, hobbies, etc though I’ve pretty much been forced to stop just about everything I used to enjoy, I do sometimes get frustrated and try to do things but it definitely comes with payback in terms of pain and recovery time, so I’ll say that.... 
  • brighidbrighid Member Posts: 23 Connected
    Will also remember to ask what they’ve written :-)
  • AnnieJBAnnieJB Member Posts: 3 Listener
    All you can do is tell the truth and if lies are told by them then you can deal with them afterwards - if you tell the truth they can’t catch you out. They’ll try and they’ll lie in your report (sad but true because for everyone refused PIP the assessor gets £300!!) My deformed foot isn’t deformed, I don’t have depression, my spine is straight, etc etc etc. But - you can deal with that at Mandatory Reconsideration/Tribunal if necessary. Don’t smile or look the assessor in the eye. It means you “aren’t depressed, anxious or in pain”. Don’t be friendly or nice  (but obviously don’t be rude). Ditto above. All the above was written in my report along with a dozen or so other lies. The DWP, to their credit, has rejected the assessment I had at an assessment centre 20 miles away due to ‘inconsistencies’ and I now have another one in a couple of weeks at home. I made a complaint to Atos about the disgusting assessor and I’m waiting for their response. This is important:-  if you can do something but you can't do it more than 50% of the time or can't do it reliably, repeatedly, safely or in a reasonable time then you can’t do it. This is in the PIP Regulations.  So make sure you make this quite clear to the assessor when giving your answers and make them aware that you know about these regulations.  Finally, don’t be afraid to complain if you feel you’ve been treated unfairly or disrespectfully. They have 20 working days to respond. I dictated mine by phone - read back to me - but you can also write. Let DWP know you are complaining to Atos/Capita and they will make a note on your records. You can ask for a copy of the report too - call DWP and they’ll send it. Hope this helps and good luck.
  • sam12sam12 Posts: 1,338 Member
    There lairs to and hsrsh I was cryin nasty wat they said to me
  • YadnadYadnad Posts: 2,856 Member
    brighid said:
    Will also remember to ask what they’ve written :-)
    Don't be too disappointed though when you are told that you can't or that they promise to do so at the end and still don't.

    I've come to the conclusion that the assessor would not want to enter into a discussion or argument with the claimant if they disclosed what they had written.
    It might get heated or physical so excuses will be used to protect the assessor from getting involved.
  • YadnadYadnad Posts: 2,856 Member
    AnnieJB said:
    Don’t smile or look the assessor in the eye. It means you “aren’t depressed, anxious or in pain”-  Don’t be friendly or nice  (but obviously don’t be rude). Ditto above. if you can do something but you can't do it more than 50% of the time or can't do it reliably, repeatedly, safely or in a reasonable time then you can’t do it. This is in the PIP Regulations.  So make sure you make this quite clear to the assessor when giving your answers and make them aware that you know about these regulations. 
    I'm sorry but going into an assessment with that attitude is only going to go one way. You will have created an atmosphere of distrust on your part and dislike on the part of the assessor.

    That will really help with the proceedings.
  • AnnieJBAnnieJB Member Posts: 3 Listener
    edited August 2018
    I’m sorry but I’ve had an assessment thrown out by DWP who saw through the lies written. Perhaps you could read my reply again and you will understand my reasoning. Being nice, polite and friendly goes against you. An atmosphere of distrust and dislike is irrelevant. They aren’t interested in how nice or polite you are, they are only interested in ensuring that any serious health conditions are denied, downplayed or ignored. I had the comments in “ “ on my post actually written on my report.
  • YadnadYadnad Posts: 2,856 Member
    AnnieJB said:
    Being nice, polite and friendly goes against you...they aren’t interested in how nice or polite you are, 

    they are only interested in ensuring that any serious health conditions are denied, downplayed or ignored.
    Isn't that a contradiction in terms?

    If the assessor is of the opinion that despite what you say or protest about the effects/impact of your conditions then they are quite entitled to voice their opinion through the report. In their opinion your medical evidence may not support the descriptors that you have chosen. Surely you do not expect them to 'rubber stamp' what issues you have and the impact on you by accepting that you are entirely truthful?

    However what they have to do is to justify their opinion and reasoning if they do not agree with what you are claiming to be the case.

  • AnnieJBAnnieJB Member Posts: 3 Listener
    Okay, this discussion is closed. How dare you. The assessor lied. 
  • YadnadYadnad Posts: 2,856 Member
    AnnieJB said:
    Okay, this discussion is closed. How dare you. The assessor lied. 
    That is something that you will most unlikely be able to prove.
    I am only explaining to you how the other side would think, react etc.

    Besides which the assessors report is not a factual statement but only an opinion. Much the same as you and I could have an opinion.

    You are in my opinion placing far too much importance on an assessors report.

    I'll give you an example. 
    All three of mine for PIP were of such quality and accuracy that you would honestly believe that they related to someone else. 
    They disregarded psychiatric evidence which went into enough detail so as to explain the what's and why's I had difficulties and aligning it with the various descriptors. Additionally they disregarded the fact that I get another benefit for mental health issues and had a recent assessment by a doctor who stated that I have lost 40% of my normal mental abilities - they stated that their mental health examination showed that I did not have a mental health problem.

    They disregarded a report from the spinal unit at hospital that the damage was so severe that walking tests carried out showed that I could only manage approx. 10 metres without falling down - they assessed my walking ability as to be able to walk over 200 metres without difficulty.

    Finally they disregarded a 3 page GP report explaining why social services had to install equipment in my home so as to get in and out of the bath, go to the toilet and clean myself afterwards and get in and out of bed/dress/undress - they assessed that I had no need for any of that equipment, could dress/wash/go to the toilet independently.

    Those were their opinions which I ignored and presented the case for a MR pointing out my evidence. The DWP agreed twice and offered to increase the award from 0 points to Enhanced Mobility & Care. There was no need to complain about the assessment.
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,601 Disability Gamechanger
    AnnieJB said:
    Okay, this discussion is closed. How dare you. The assessor lied. 
    No, you cannot prove they lied unless you have a full transcription of the appointment. You can demonstrate mistakes, obvious errors and fsctual inaccuracies but you cannot demonstrate that they lied. 

    Also worth saying that our own assessment of our functional abilities often differs from HCPs. That does not make them liars by any stretch.
  • brighidbrighid Member Posts: 23 Connected
    Come on guys, I thought we were hear to support each other. Lies or factual inaccuracies, what is the difference? Bickering about semantics really isn't helping.
  • brighidbrighid Member Posts: 23 Connected
    BTW, I read the assessor guidance and it does say that how well kempt a person is, is a factor to consider. Thought that was worth sharing x
  • brighidbrighid Member Posts: 23 Connected
    So assessment went OK. The assessor was very professional and allowed me to speak. Partner prompted me when I forgot or to add examples. Don't think I would have done or said anything different with hindsight so just have to see what happens next. I declined the physical exam because I had been sat for well over and hour and was in a lot of pain. So hope that won't go against me. He did say that he would write that I didn't feel able to undertake it. 
  • YadnadYadnad Posts: 2,856 Member
    brighid said:
    Come on guys, I thought we were hear to support each other. Lies or factual inaccuracies, what is the difference? Bickering about semantics really isn't helping.
    One is intentional and the other is probably an error.
    There is a lot of difference. You cannot call anybody a liar unless you can back up your statement. with evidence.
  • brighidbrighid Member Posts: 23 Connected
    Indeed but the outcome is the same, a misrepresentation of the issue likely to impact negatively on us directly. How or why that happens is not worth bickering over, semantics as I said. Getting into arguments like this is not supportive in the least and does nothing to help. Gross incompetence or outright lies, neither are excusable and both are destructive and distressing in equal measure.
  • brighidbrighid Member Posts: 23 Connected
    Quick question, I took some additional evidence and the assessor said it was unnecessary and didn’t copy it to send with the assessment. Can I send this directly to DWP? Or should I just wait and see wait happens and use it if I need to ask for a MR? It was an OH report from work, some copies of notes from GP with diagnosis, a list of my symptoms and their impact and a list of aids that I use...?
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,601 Disability Gamechanger
    Actually, it’s not “semantics” at all. Use the word “lies” for an MR and you lose. Simple as that. Use it at an appeal tribunal, where you’re basically kicking at an open door if you have a winnable case, and you will instantly lose the support of the medical professional on the panel and possibly the other two. The information you’re being given is wholly supportive and will enable you to present your case in the best possible light. Nobody here is “bickering”. We are politely disagreeing with you about the approach you take and we’re doing so for the very best of reasons. 

    An OH report is potentially useful if it tells them something they don’t already know.

    A GP diagnosis is irrelevant as that will have been in the claim pack and will rarely be in dispute as surely would be the list of aids on a per activity basis. As for your symptoms. A GP is either giving the symptoms a person with your health would ordinarily expect, which would not be specific to you and therefore of little use, or, they’re repeating what you told them. That adds credibility but it;s not medical evidence as such. 

    Putting aside the thorny issue of whether the evidence should go in when you have an assessment there is a general principle that withholding evidence is not a good idea regardless of the stage you’re at. It won’t play well further down the line just like calling a HCP a liar is undermining your own case. If you have it it needs to go in to DWP now.
  • YadnadYadnad Posts: 2,856 Member
    edited August 2018
    . Putting aside the thorny issue of whether the evidence should go in when you have an assessment there is a general principle that withholding evidence is not a good idea regardless of the stage you’re at. It won’t play well further down the line just like calling a HCP a liar is undermining your own case. If you have it it needs to go in to DWP now.
    I do entirely agree with you, but on the other hand I can fully understand why people would hold evidence back.
    The first would be because the claimant is of the opinion that no matter what is sent in to the DWP no one is likely to take much notice of it. The belief is that most people only trust that they will get a fair hearing at a Tribunal and therefore that is the place to present it all.

    Secondly some claimants watch far too much TV especially those programmes that relate to the police and court. They believe that by dropping a bombshell of evidence in the lap of the CPS will give them the best chance of justice in that no one will have had the time to discredit that evidence. They simply don't believe that the police or even their own legal team will use it properly if they let the cat out of the bag too soon. There is some evidence of a sort in this as seen in the media over the past months when cases have been thrown out due to non disclosure.

    I think the problem is the lack of trust that exists between the claimant, DWP and the assessing company.

    Do I trust the assessing company to be fair and honest in their reporting, No not at all. Do I have faith and trust in the DWP in their decision making, No not at all.

    So in a way I am saying that it is highly likely that where those two bodies are involved there is no real point in expecting anything that looks like fairness or even justice.
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,601 Disability Gamechanger
    Wholly agree with you @yadnad that there is a culture of mistrust but to a large  extent it’s misplaced and the more you tell DWP the better the quality of the decision making. There is also, as you say, this idea that tribunals are adversarial rather than inquisitorial. Not helped at all by many venues now being courts. I should perhaps have emphasised that the principle of immediate disclosure is a legal principle rather than just a good idea. 
  • YadnadYadnad Posts: 2,856 Member
    edited August 2018
    I should perhaps have emphasised that the principle of immediate disclosure is a legal principle rather than just a good idea. 
    It certainly is. Maybe I shouldn't treat criminal and civil courts as the same, but from my years of working, investigating and preparing cases for prosecution (both civil & criminal) for the government and before I became mentally too ill to continue it was always an absolute requirement that 'full and complete disclosure' was to be made at the earliest possible occasion.

    Mind you I do laugh at the Perry Mason type programmes where the private investigator rolls into the court room with some last minute evidence whereupon reading it the Judge declares the guy innocent!
  • brighidbrighid Member Posts: 23 Connected
    Hi, thanks for your info, I wasn't in disagreement with anyone in particular but there seemed to be a some unnecessary falling out further up the thread about people's individual views. That is what I was referring to and now those people have disappeared from the thread, I guess no longer feeling able to get involved in this discussion because they feel undermined again, after a horrible experience. Just a bit of insight into the impact. Now saying that you shouldn't describe the assessor as a liar in your appeal process is wholly appropriate, but us saying that they weren't lying at all, just makes the person that experienced that feel dismissed out of hand. That's the point was trying to make. I'm now even more confused about the evidence though. I wouldn't say I have withheld any evidence. There's nothing that says anything I haven't already said and as you say even the OH report only repeats what I described, though why I would describe myself out of a job unnecessarily seems crazy. The list of symptoms is my own list that just described in more detail how they impact me. I didn't necessarily mention every symptom in every descriptor on the form just my main symptoms. And used words like disoriented, but disoriented includes, blurred/double vision, the room spinning, noises in my head, staggering and falling, unable to hear... that isn't necessarily that clear just from saying disoriented! or am I just being obsessive...
  • MatildaMatilda Member Posts: 2,616 Disability Gamechanger
    In my MR and appeal I didn't specifically use the word 'liar' but I appointed out that the Atos paramedic had put in her report that she watched me take my bag off over my head, put it down on the floor and pick it up again letter.  In fact, as I stated in MR and appeal submission, at no time, not even during the exercises, did I take my bag off.

    Tribunal must have believed me as they allowed my appeal.
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,601 Disability Gamechanger
    Focus any additional evidence on gaps. If there’s no gain in your evidence then nothing additional is required. Out of your list the only useful one will be your description.
  • brighidbrighid Member Posts: 23 Connected
    Think I will wait for the award letter and see what it says, if I need to be more explicit I’ll tackle it then. 
    Got a text today from DWP to say they’ve received the report and should hear from them within 4 weeks, was surprised it was so quick!
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