Are PIP assessments being botched because they are being rushed by government contractors?

[With apologies to Matt Groening.]

Both Atos and its employer the Department for Work and Pensions say there is no pressure on employees to carry out Personal Independence Payment assessments quickly.

But the average time taken on assessments, which varies widely across the whole of the UK, not just in the southeast of England (the example below), suggests a ‘postcode lottery’ in which a claimant’s chance of getting a good assessment depends on where they live.

We know that large numbers of these assessments are flawed – consider this court case in which Atos had to pay £5,000 after botching one, or this one in which Capita (which also carries out PIP assessments) had to pay out £10,000 for maladministration in a case involving a death.

Until botched results that may lead to the early deaths of claimants are eliminated, it ill-fits Atos, Capita or the DWP to make light of the issue.

The amount of time that nurses and physiotherapists spend carrying out face-to-face disability benefit assessments can vary hugely, depending on where the test takes place, according to analysis of new Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures.

The figures show that the average time spent on face-to-face PIP assessments in one part of the south-east of England in August 2018 was just 43.5 minutes.

In the same month, the average time spent on face-to-face assessments in another part of the south-east region was 62.6 minutes, more than 40 per cent higher.

And Atos insisted yesterday (Wednesday) that there was “no pressure on staff to complete assessments quickly” and that any variation shown in the figures was not “untoward”.

Data released through a parliamentary question later revealed that the proportion of assessment reports completed by Atos that were found to be significantly flawed reached more than 36 per cent last year.

Source: New figures raise fresh questions over Atos PIP assessments – Disability News Service

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27 thoughts on “Are PIP assessments being botched because they are being rushed by government contractors?

    1. Mike

      Hi, just had my pip assessment as my circumstances have changed , 64 years old, live in North Hertfordshire, multiple illnesses and disabilities also on Esa, and another story, why two agencies testing my twice in two different centres? Twice the cost? Anyway, my assessment 120 minutes.

      Mike c

  1. trev

    There shouldn’t be any DWP contractor assessments, for PIP or ESA, it should just be decided by medical evidence by an NHS Doctor, end of. Or is a Doctorate worth nothing these days?

    1. Scott

      Never a truer word said!!!! ATOS useless,money grabbing,no f…all!!! F*** the DWP aswell there crooks.

      1. Scott

        Try living in my body ya bunch of halfwits.if they like the look of you or a smack head your ok.i struggle with mental illness and anxiety and they sit round a table with 6 of them recording u and scrutinizing u.i got asked do I have a phone and how I top up……that questions decides if you are fit for work.UNBELIEVABLE!!!!
        Systems a joke!!!!!

    2. Rupert Mitchell

      Applicants, and especially those on DLA being transferred to PIP are being put through enormous stress when confronted with these forms which are obviously designed to be as difficult as possible to complete and are, in many instances, impossible for those with psychological illness without help. The action of using private firms to work on these claims is nothing less than a huge insult to the medical PROFESSION and is just an example of the mentality of the MPs irresponsible action of trying to deprive those people so desperately in need for those who are without a soul but with plenty of greed.

  2. bevchat

    I can tell you from first hand experience that I feel this is so…and sadly not in favour of the claimants…Where there are some disabled people being left isolated in communities some even in rural areas when the assessor makes a decision based on their assumptions without asking those they are scrutinising whether or not they are actually in pain or just out of breath…when they need to stop …However, decisions are made on the goal posts that have been changed because if they have a walking aid…it is assumed they can still walk…No other factors are taken into consideration the time it takes to get from point to point. No wonder there is a backlog of claimants going for Mandatory reviews and Tribunals…In the meantime their means of getting about and being independent are taken away from them. Leaving them isolated and virtually prisoners in their own homes!

    1. trev

      It’s the same with WCA too, farcical and unjust. I knew a guy, same age as me, was in his late 50s, knew him since school, kept blacking out and collapsing at work so they sacked him, got diagnosed with a heart problem and put on 4 tablets per day for life, then about 3 yrs ago DWP decided he was fit for work so went from esa to jsa, then did some temporary work but got fired after 3 months for not being fast enough, so then got put on Universal Credit. He died last Christmas.

      1. jeffrey prentis

        Very sorry to hear that this system is useless I was given a car for life 20 years ago and it’s just been taken away from me I tried to appeal but was told a horror story by the DWP disgusting

    2. Ian Stapleton

      My pip assessment was 30 minutes, a complete pack of lies. Nothing I said was written down. It was carried out by asos, and now like most people I have got to arrange a tribunal.

      1. Emma Rosser

        This was the same with my dads assessment, fortunately, I attended with him and appealed on his behalf. They overturned the decision and awarded him indefinitely and I barely had to speak, they’d already decided on written evidence. The lies the atos assessor told were unbelievable, my dad could have answered the questions she asked over the phone because she completely lied about his physical examination. He can barely move, yet she was saying he could lift his arms over his head etc… I think if their decision is overturned, they should be sacked for their inaccurate and misleading information.

  3. Jim

    There’s nothing botched up with an insincere assessor that only does it for money, and in the process of lying about a persons health. I agree, Dr’s and specialists should be the only professionalstruggle qualified to do this – not sycophants dressed up as nurse’s and physioterrorists!

  4. Brian Birch

    It has taken over 6 months from start to finish of my claim. On submitting my application, 15 weeks after an acknowledgement of receipt and that was only after contacting them that it was realised whist it had been lodged it was left in the system without progression.
    No explication, apology, and they wonder why people are so disgruntled with this service. 0

  5. Lee Ditchburn

    I suffer with depression, anxiety and PTSD. I attended one of these shambolic assessments in June 2018 and the assessor told a bunch of lies in the report. Firstly she disregarded my GP’s supporting statement and branded my GP a liar! The assessor wrote down in the report that my upper body strength was perfect as I drive a car. Bear in mind she didn’t sit in a car with me at all or examine my upper body strength as it was not necessary as I was attending the assessment on mental health issues. She would not allow me to relay what is wrong with me and she noted down 3 out of 20+ conditions I have related to PTSD. She stopped me and moved along to the next question! She stated that I managed face to face perfectly. So how come I was in such a distressed state that I was banging my head off the table and asking to leave! This was also not mentioned! And the fact I had a carer in with me was not mentioned! Finally I am at court in October this year. At that point it will be 19mnths wait! My GP has gone nuts over this. I have 150% support from her and the backing of Welfare rights! I will win! But it’s been a long hard slog! Oh and the assessment length was 23mins!!

  6. Jaded Nurse

    I was interviewed for this role a couple of years ago and told at interview that we had max 45 mins per assessment and if you hadn’t achieved that in 3 months you will be asked to leave. I didn’t proceed as a result. Begs a few questions as to who is lying…

  7. Jeffrey Davies

    Atos crapita maximus they only goal is to down grade their score for people it’s a farce by these companies who only following dwp orders by these very highly trained HCP

  8. Marie whittaker

    Yes. Totally agree, .there definitely botch . No matter how much atos big them self’s up on there training. Many of the assignments are rushed. The assessment people just wanted to make money. It’s definitely a post code lottery. My son got 0 point’s for mental health problems there lies where sickning sent my son to have severe anxiety and panic attacks . To them if they carnt see it it does not excit. They should be ashamed there putting people’s lives at risk

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      You’re right about mental health problems. They don’t include mental health in the assessment system at all.

      1. Cath Cole

        They have questions in the PIP applications that are supposed to allow claimants to show how Mental Illness effects their daily life. I fill these in but the focus of the assessments is always on my physical limitations, presumably this is because Mental Illness can’t be easily assessed. The assessors have an attitude that they won’t take either the patient’s or the doctor’s word for anything. That leaves anyone with a hidden disability with nothing to assess.

      2. R Mitchell

        It would appear that the whole intention of these assessments is to deprive those who are in need of help, and anyone with a mental disability would find them almost impossible to complete, so why is the DWP not using the professional expertise of their doctors and psychiatrists? I think we all know the answer to that one!

  9. Ian Salmond

    My wife is registered parshly sighted and for refused pip she can’t work but look like they are saying she can she only got 2 points for cooking as she can use a microwave it’s a joke

  10. Bill douglas

    I was sent to asos by my work, have arthritis in my elbow the so called doctor said that with restrictions for 6/12 weeks my arthritis would go away

    1. Karen Bayliss

      I agree with Bill, I had an assessment by a so called doctor from Atos who told me my Rheumatoid Arthritis is not progressive, not an autoimmune disease, not a life long disease, it is curable and I would be cured within 6 months without treatment. They also told me my hospital Rheumatology Consultant obviously had had no training and obviously didn’t know what they were talking about.

  11. Yvonne

    No. It’s not because they’re rushed. It’s because the people doing said assessments know nothing about real people, with real illnesses and disabilities. They’ve no empathy cos it’s not them that’s I’ll. Plus being paid by the government, what else can we expect?

  12. Catherine Cole

    I have had 2 assessments with Capita. The reports are full of errors but a lot of what they do is totally deliberate. I have nerve damage following a neck injury. So I have little feeling below my chest and my lower arms and hands are affected too.
    At each assessment, I have been asked to grip the two fingers that she holds out, using my thumb and forefinger only. I can do this, so the report goes back that I have a good grip and normal use of my hands. There is never any test of my grip with the whole hand or any measure of my lack of ability to synchronise my grip between the left and right hand. This is necessary for dressing, in particular. According to the assessor, I only choose to wear a belt because I can’t be bothered to buy well fitted trousers. In reality I need a belt at times to feel securely dressed. I have very little feeling below the waist and the skin generally feels numb and cold. I can’t always tell if my backside is covered. I tend to wriggle a lot when sitting in my scooter and clothes move about. It’s just smoke and mirrors.
    I have also been told that I can’t possibly be depressed because I make good eye contact with the assessors. I’m not a psychiatrist but I’m pretty sure depression doesn’t necessarily wipe out all your social skills.
    The capita assessors also waste a lot of time with hypotheticals, instead of getting on with the assessment. I have a chair lift to get in and out of the bath safely. The assessor asks me ‘what would be the problem with simply stepping into the bath?’. It’s a distraction. So she can move onto the next question without recording how I actually get in and out of the bath and the help that I need in the ‘real’ world.
    I think the dwp should use their own assessors and make the whole process more accountable. One of the problems with mandatory reconsideration and tribunals is that you are dealing with people at the dwp who won’t question the assessment. Pip is not a handout. It’s a legal entitlement. The assessments should be recorded as evidence in a legal process. This is the only way to protect everyone. Claimants need this evidence to secure what they are entitled to. Assessors should be more than happy to comply if they are supremely confident that they are working to a high standard.

  13. Harry Booth

    2014 assessed .for parkinson disease awarded PIP enhanced with car 2016 reassessed lost car and enhanced PIP appealed enhanced PIP but no car as I had improved wife had to cash in works pension to buy car 2019 assessed again enhanced PIP taken as I have miraculously improved again yet again appealing they are not fit for purpose

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