Aug 07

Practical PIP Advice

PIP medical assessment tips

Many of you are now being given appointments to attend PIP assessments. These are slightly longer than WCA assessments for ESA, in that they are:

1. Generally longer, around 45 mins to 1 hour in most areas.

2. More thorough, they will need to know a day to day history of what you do, or don’t do.

3. They will “test” your cognitive skills by asking you to remember 3 objects, please note they should NOT point to these objects, but just say the words. They should then ask you to recall the objects some time later after discussing something totally unrelated with you. They should not prompt you to remember by pointing. If they do then you should say that you want to do it again with different objects and no prompting.

4. The financial test is very basic, if you have internet banking say so, they will ask you what the change is if you bought something for 75p with a £1 coin. Ridiculous I know but part of the test. If you have other difficulties, including leaving your card places, forgetting pin, leaving change etc, then say so and explain if you get into debt because you do not know how to manage money etc.

5. You will be asked to do a few simple exercises, including usually assessing your grip, by placing their finger in your hand, assessing your muscle strength by asking you to push your foot or leg against their hand, and other “tests” that we believe are pretty pointless as they do not really assess your ability. You have the right to refuse to do these, and must state because it would be too painful.

6. Most importantly is the fact that most of the assessments are carried out by Physiotherapy nurses, who in our, and some atos assessors opinion are NOT adequately used to dealing with people so do not understand basic limitations and illness/disabilities.
We therefore suggest you take as much info with you, ie medical letters from specialists, even if old, any info from Choices website on your illness if it is quite rare, or any appointment letters you have had over the last few months.

7. Read our notes on what to expect, as many of the questions will be aimed at trying to trick you, i.e. Do you go to the supermarket at all? (Say yes and you risk being assessed as walking 200m with no problem even if you sit it out half way round due to pain. Do you have children/ a dog? Explain if you have others look after these, or have special measures in place with school etc, as they will assume you can walk the dog, attend and feed the kids and get them to and from school fine. Finally relate your answers to how you are NOW not how you were, so when asked what hobbies you like to do or did, state if you have none as you can no longer complete any. Dont be fooled by niceness, that is designed to get you to relax and open up and chat, genuine people are then trapped into waffling and that info may then be used against you on your report.

For instance, one Fightbacker told the assessor who was very nice, that he liked to try and get out once every blue moon to watch a film with friends, as she was chatting about the latest movie and asked if he had seen a particular film. In reality he last went 6 months previously, in her report she stated he could manage to get to the local cinema on public transport regularly so therefore failed both components!
Finally during our buddy service, where we attend with you, we have encountered some really nice, and genuine assessors, most of them have been general Nursing staff still practicing in the NHS or Occupational Therapists again working in the field. 
However we have also encountered some horrors!

Be Alert, knowledge is power.