We’re here to help you understand the assessment process. This is a good place to start if you are looking for answers to your questions. You may also contact our Customer Enquiries line on 0800 288 8777. Lines are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm, and Saturdays 9am to 5pm. You can also email our Customer Relations team on email@example.com
If required, a Customer Relations Manager will be happy to call you back Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.
What if I am unhappy about the benefit decision from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)?
If you are unhappy about the decision made by DWP, you may ask them to reconsider their decision. If you want to do this, please contact the office listed on your decision letter.
What will happen to my complaint about your service?
Our aim is to deal with your complaint fairly, consistently and in a timely manner. We will acknowledge your complaint within 2 working days.
We aim to respond to your complaint within 20 working days. Sometimes our investigation may take longer because we may need to:
- Obtain a copy of the report or questionnaire from the office dealing with your claim
- Obtain information from the Healthcare Professional or other employees involved
If we find any inaccuracies on your report, we will notify the office dealing with your claim. It is for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to decide whether our findings change their decision about your benefit entitlement.
The Health Assessment Advisory Service cannot change the decision of DWP on your benefit or request a new assessment.
What if I am not satisfied with your response to my complaint?
Please contact the Health Assessment Advisory Service Customer Relations team, explaining which parts of your complaint have not been addressed to your satisfaction. A senior manager will personally review the investigation into your complaint and undertake a further investigation, if appropriate.
Can I take my complaint further?
The Health Assessment Advisory Service provides assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). If you continue to be dissatisfied with the complaint process, you can contact the DWP Independent Case Examiner at:
Independent Case Examiner
PO Box 209, Bootle, L20 7WA
Telephone: 0345 606 0777 or 0845 606 0777
Learn more about the Independent Case Examiner.
How long will I have to wait for my assessment?
We do aim to see you within 15 minutes of your appointment time. Sometimes there are delays. Some cases can take longer than anticipated. Our receptionist will advise you if there is any delay. The receptionist will keep you updated.
At the Assessment Centre, you may notice people who arrive after you being called in for their assessment before you are. This is because different Healthcare Professionals do different types of assessment for various benefits.
There are some instances, such as unusual delays or staff illness, when appointments have to be cancelled. If we have to cancel, we would always try to inform you before you travel to your appointment.
On rare occasions, an appointment is cancelled and we may not be able to notify you before you arrive at the Assessment Centre. If we cancel your appointment when you are at the Assessment Centre, we will reimburse your travel expenses. We will rearrange the appointment as soon as possible.
Can I see a copy of my Assessment Report?
You can see the report completed by the Healthcare Professional after it has been sent to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). If you want a copy, you can call the DWP office that is looking after your claim. The telephone number for the DWP office can be found on the letters you have received from them about your benefit claim.
For Jobcentre Plus benefits, to get the correct number, please call 0345 608 8545. If you have speech or hearing difficulties, you can call Jobcentre Plus by text phone on 0345 608 8551.
For Disability and Carers’ benefits, to get the correct number, please call 0845 712 3456. If you have speech or hearing difficulties, you can call by text phone on 0845 722 4433.
How do I request an audio recorded assessment?
We will accommodate requests for an audio recorded face-to-face assessment where possible and provide the equipment to do this. However, you must make a request for an audio recording before the assessment takes place.
If you would like your assessment to be audio recorded, please call our Enquiries line on 0800 288 8777. Our lines are open Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, and Saturdays from 9am to 5pm. Please make your request as early as possible so it is part of the appointment booking process.
You can find more information, including an explanation of the DWP policy about the audio recording of Work Capability Assessments, on the Government’s website.
Can I have the assessment carried out in my home?
If you are unable to travel to an Assessment Centre or it is difficult for you, you can ask for a home visit. Please be sure to mention it on your ESA50 form. Learn more about home visits.
Does the Health Assessment Advisory Service decide on my benefits claim?
No. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) makes the decision on your benefits claim. Read more about our partnership with DWP.
How much time do I have to complete the questionnaire?
You will usually have up to four weeks to complete and return the questionnaire. We send a reminder after three weeks. The due date will be on the letter that comes with the questionnaire. If possible, please allow three days for the questionnaire to reach us from the date of posting.
If we do not receive the questionnaire, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) determines the next action. DWP may contact you to find out why the questionnaire wasn’t returned. If you have a mental health condition, DWP may ask us to continue the Work Capability Assessment process without the questionnaire.
What documents are sent in the questionnaire pack?
The questionnaire pack is the first thing most people will receive when the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) starts the Assessment process. It is sent out after you have made a new Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claim. It is also sent if you are receiving Incapacity Benefit now and you are due to be reassessed for ESA.
The pack will have three things:
- The limited capability for work questionnaire (the ESA50)
- A covering letter (also known as the ESA51) that explains what to do and the date by which the questionnaire needs to be returned
- A prepaid envelope to return the questionnaire in
If you have any other medical information relevant to your claim, please send it with the questionnaire in the envelope provided.
What questionnaire will I have to fill in for my Work Capability Assessment?
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will send you the ESA50 questionnaire when they have asked us to do a Work Capability Assessment. This will be in connection with an Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) assessment. DWP will reassess your claim at intervals. A questionnaire is sent each time. You may receive more than one questionnaire during your ESA claim period.
You need to fill in each questionnaire sent to you. Include as much detail as possible. Explain how your disability or illness affects your everyday life, and how it affects you regarding gaining and keeping employment.
Post the completed questionnaire in the pre-paid envelope provided. Include any other medical information you want us to consider. Please allow three days for us to receive.
Our Healthcare Professional will review your questionnaire. They will review any other information you sent or which has been obtained on your behalf. The Healthcare Professional will decide whether you need to attend an assessment in person.
What happens if I cannot attend my assessment appointment?
For Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) allows you to rearrange the appointment once. If you need to rearrange your ESA appointment, please call our Enquiries line before the day of your appointment on 0800 288 8777. Our lines are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm, and Saturdays from 9am to 5pm
If you do not attend your appointment, you will be sent a form (BF223). It will ask why you did not attend. You will need to complete it and send it in the pre-paid addressed envelope DWP provided. If they accept ‘good cause’ for not attending the appointment, they may refer your case back to us. We will arrange a new appointment.
For all other allowances and benefits we aim to complete your assessment as soon as possible. This is so DWP can decide your claim. If you cannot attend your appointment, please call us as soon as possible using the number on your appointment letter.
Do you provide interpreters?
We will provide a sign language interpreter for an assessment when required. For Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) assessments, please contact our Customer Relations team by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or textphone: 18001 0800 2888 777. Please give at least two days notice.
We will provide a language interpreter for an assessment when required. For ESA assessments, please call our Enquiries line at least two days before your assessment on 0800 288 8777. For other assessments, please call the number on your appointment letter.
If you prefer, you can bring a relative or friend to interpret for you. The person must be at least 16 years old.
We also provide a telephone translation service for questions about appointments on 0800 288 8777. For other allowances and benefits, please call the number on your appointment letter.
How long will my assessment appointment take?
There is no set time for an assessment. How long it takes depends upon your individual case. It also depends upon the type of assessment and your medical conditions. Time with the Healthcare Professional is usually between 20 minutes and one hour. Allow up to two hours, although many assessments take much less time.
The Healthcare Professional will spend time before you arrive reviewing your questionnaire and any other available information. They will spend time after your assessment finishes completing the remainder of the medical report. Then it is sent to the Department for Work and Pensions office handling your claim.
Can I take notes during my assessment appointment?
You or your representative can take notes during an assessment. The notes will only be for your private use. We will not send them to the Department for Work and Pensions with the medical report. The Healthcare Professional will record within the medical report that notes were taken. They will also explain that the notes are not an official record of the assessment.
Can a chaperone be present at my assessment?
A member of the Health Assessment Advisory Service staff can be there if you or the Healthcare Professional requests it.
Can I bring a companion to my assessment?
You are welcome to bring a relative, carer or friend to the assessment. Although we recognise that a companion may provide a valuable contribution, the assessment and discussion will always be focused towards you. The Healthcare Professional will explain how they will proceed at the assessment.
If you need to bring children with you, please also bring someone to look after them while you are having your assessment.
What should I bring to my assessment?
- Your appointment letter.
- Proof of identity. This can be your passport or three other different types of identification such as a birth certificate, driving licence and a utility bill.
- Any hospital appointment or admission letters.
- Tablets or other current medication, such as inhalers.
- Any medical aids, such as walking aids, hearing aids, glasses and contact lenses.
- Any letters from your General Practitioner (GP) or Specialist detailing your medical condition that you have not already sent in with your questionnaire.
- Your bank or building society details if you are claiming travel expenses.
I have a mental health condition and I'm worried about my assessment, how are mental health conditions assessed?
Our Healthcare Professionals conduct assessments for all conditions, including mental health. We also have staff with added expertise in mental health and cognitive and learning disabilities.
The Healthcare Professional will ask you questions about how you are affected by your mental health conditions. Based on this discussion, and all available evidence, they will provide their advice to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This advice is based on DWP criteria. It covers your capacity to cope with change, your understanding and focus, and your social interaction.
You may ask your representative to help you complete your form. If you would like us to deal with someone else on your behalf, you will need to give us permission to do so. Call us or ask your representative to call us on 0800 288 8777.
How are fluctuating conditions handled in the assessment?
Our Healthcare Professionals are aware that many medical conditions produce symptoms that vary in intensity over time from mild to severe. Sometimes you may be able to perform a task, but not for any significant length of time. You may be able to perform at an unacceptably slow rate due to pain or fatigue. The Healthcare Professional will not ask you to make any movements that cause you discomfort. If you are worried that certain movements might cause you pain, please tell the Healthcare Professional.
Our Healthcare Professionals are trained not to base their opinion solely on what they observe at the assessment. The Healthcare Professional will ask you about any medications you take and the effects they have on you. They also consider the history and clinical evidence. Their aim is to find out how your condition changes from day-to-day. They then give the DWP Decision Maker an assessment of the overall level of disability for the majority of the time.
Will I need a face-to-face Work Capability Assessment?
In most cases, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) require us to ask you to attend a face-to-face assessment. On receipt of a completed questionnaire, a Healthcare Professional will review all available information. This is to decide whether you should be asked to attend an assessment in person.
We can only provide advice to DWP that a face-to-face assessment is not needed if the evidence is sufficient to meet DWP requirements.
The Healthcare Professional can contact your General Practitioner (GP) if they require further medical evidence in order to decide whether an assessment is necessary.
If you are not required to attend a face-to-face assessment, DWP will write to explain what will happen with your claim. The Health Assessment Advisory Service will not write to you if you are not required to attend an assessment.
If an assessment is required, the Health Assessment Advisory Service will send you an appointment letter.
Where can the Health Assessment Advisory Service Customer Charter be seen?
Our Customer Charter is displayed as a poster in every Assessment Centre. You can also read it here.
What is the Health Assessment Advisory Service's role in my assessment?
We provide assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), across a range of different government benefit schemes. DWP in turn makes the decisions on who is entitled to claim for benefit support.
What qualifications and experience do Healthcare Professionals have?
Our Healthcare Professionals must be registered with the General Medical Council (on the List of Registered Medical Practitioners but not necessarily on the GP or Specialist Registers) and have a current licence to practice, nurses with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and physiotherapists with the Health and Care Professions Council.
All our Healthcare Professionals must have 2 years post-registration clinical experience and must successfully complete a rigorous, comprehensive training process to provide Work Capability Assessments in accordance with Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) legislation before they can be approved by the Department for Work and Pensions to work in this area. Our Healthcare Professionals are specialists in disability analysis, focusing on the effects of a condition, not on the condition itself.
How do you check that Healthcare Professionals provide high standard assessments?
To ensure our Healthcare Professionals provide consistent, high quality, independent assessments, we:
- Conduct a rigorous and comprehensive recruitment and training process to select candidates who are confident and capable for the role.
- Regularly review and update training based on feedback from trainees and trainers, quality results and feedback from complaints.
- Ensure clinical managers deploy the most appropriate skilled clinical resource to each assessment.
In addition, we continuously monitor and review the quality of our assessments against the standards agreed with the Department for Work and Pensions.
Quality assurance is built in to our processes using medical audits. Healthcare Professionals must complete an approval process on new benefits and are then randomly audited. Audits are carried out by experienced Healthcare Professionals with specialist training. There is also an annual validation of each auditor's appointment.
What training does the Healthcare Professional have?
To carry out assessments of benefit claims, all Healthcare Professionals must complete a recognised and specially designed training course and must be approved by the Department for Work and Pensions Chief Medical Adviser.
If you would prefer to be seen by a Healthcare Professional of the same sex, you can indicate this in your ESA50 questionnaire or you can call our Enquiries Line on 0800 288 8777. For all other allowances and benefits please call the number on your appointment letter. Whenever possible, we try to meet all requests for a Healthcare Professional of the same sex.
Please be assured that all Healthcare Professionals have a duty and obligation to their code of practice to behave in a professional and appropriate manner whilst carrying out assessments.
Are Healthcare Professionals incentivised to get customers off benefits?
No. Our Healthcare Professionals are paid for completing assessments to a high standard, not on the outcomes of these assessments.
Can I cancel my appointment if I don’t feel well on the day?
Yes, but please give us as much notice as you can if you need to cancel. We will make an alternative appointment for you. Please note that we can only re-book your appointment once.
Will I be able to claim my travel expenses?
The Health Assessment Advisory Service pays expenses for travel by public transport. We can pay towards fuel costs for private cars. We also fund the cost of parking when it is not available at the Assessment Centre.
We may also pay for fares of a companion, relative, carer, or young children who would otherwise be left unattended. If you wish to claim for an authorised companion to travel with you, you must contact our Enquiries line before your assessment on 0800 288 8777.
If you need to travel by taxi because you cannot use public transport or do not have the use of a car, please tell us as this needs to be agreed by the assessment centre. If you can only travel by taxi, you must telephone us our Enquiries line before the assessment on 0800 288 8777. A Healthcare Professional will consider your request.
You should use the bus, train or private car. Buy return tickets where possible and keep all tickets and receipts. We will be able to pay you more quickly if you bring details of your bank or building society account.
In order to be paid for any expenses, you will need to fill out and submit an expense form. You may ask the receptionist at the Assessment Centre for help filling out the form. Please keep all of your receipts. You should receive payment for your expenses approximately two weeks after you submit the form.
As from 12th of October, payments can only be paid directly into a bank account via BACS, or by cheque. Payments by Giro will no longer be available. This is due to the service being withdrawn by Santander UK, which owns National Girobank.
If you do not have a current bank account, payments can be credited into the bank account of a nominated family member, friend of carer.
After a payment has been made, you will receive a receipt that will notify you of the payment and also which bank account it has been paid into.
If you travel by your own car or get a lift to the assessment centre please ensure that a parking ticket is bought that covers the whole time of your visit (allowing for booking in and an assessment of approximately one hour). Due to the nature of these assessments it may be that your assessment is not conducted at the exact appointment time on your letter. If you, or the person who gave you a lift, need to return to the vehicle to buy a further ticket to extend the time please let the Receptionist know before leaving the Assessment Centre. Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure that you pay for sufficient time and we will not reimburse the cost of any parking fines you or your companion may receive.
I use a wheelchair. Is the Assessment Centre accessible?
Please let us know as soon as possible if you use a wheelchair or have other significant mobility issues by calling our Enquiries line on 0800 288 8777. We want to make sure that we can send you to an Assessment Centre that you can access. If this is not possible, we may be able to conduct your assessment at home.
I'm a carer and cannot leave the person I care for alone whilst I attend an assessment. What can I do?
Let us know as soon as possible if you cannot attend the appointment for your assessment. We may be able to arrange a more suitable appointment or conduct your assessment at your home.
Can I bring my assistance dog to the Assessment Centre with me?
Yes, you may bring assistance dogs or other service animals with you.
My GP hasn’t provided me with any evidence to share with you. What should I do?
The most important thing is that you return the form to us by the date on the letter we sent you. Complete the form as fully as you can, giving as much information as possible.
You can send us medical evidence separately. You may provide evidence from another consultant or specialist doctor, psychiatrist, specialist nurse such as a Community Psychiatric Nurse, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, social worker, support worker, personal assistant or carer.
Sometimes we may request evidence from the Healthcare Professional who knows you best to help us with the assessment.
I prefer dealing with people by email, can you do this?
We will send you an appointment letter for your assessment. If you also require details of your assessment by email please contact us on 0800 288 8777 or by email on email@example.com. You can also ask someone else to call us and let us know if you prefer to communicate on email.
I can’t get to the Assessment Centre, what can I do?
Please let us know as soon as possible by calling our Enquiries line on 0800 288 8777. We may be able to arrange transport for you or conduct your assessment at home. Learn more about requesting home visits.
My GP doesn’t know very much about me. Can another Healthcare Professional provide evidence of how my condition affects me?
Yes, you may provide evidence from another Healthcare Professional. This might be a consultant or specialist doctor, psychiatrist, specialist nurse such as a Community Psychiatric Nurse, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, social worker, support worker, personal assistant or carer.
I’m worried that you will telephone me. I have hearing problems and don’t use the phone. What should I do?
We will send you an appointment letter for your assessment. If you also require details of your assessment by email contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also ask someone else to call us on 0800 288 8777 and let us know if you prefer to communicate on email.
Will the Healthcare Professional take my medications into account?
Yes. Tell the Healthcare Professional if your medications have side effects or affect you in other ways. If you are receiving chemotherapy, complete the special section on page 20 of your form.
I can walk a bit or do some things, but it takes me a long time and causes me pain. How will the Healthcare Professional know this in one appointment?
Our Healthcare Professionals are specially trained to find out how your condition affects you from day to day. They will ask you if you can carry out tasks safely, to an acceptable standard, as often as you need to and in a reasonable amount of time.
I have several conditions, will I be able to discuss them all?
Yes. It’s important that you tell us about all of the health conditions, illnesses or disabilities that affect you. Mention all of your conditions on the form. If you are invited for an assessment, discuss them with the Healthcare Professional.
What seating is available at the Assessment Centre?
There is a range of seating available at most Assessment Centres, including seats with arms.
I cannot sit comfortably. Will there be somewhere that I can lie down?
Most assessment rooms have couches and we can usually find somewhere you can lie down if necessary. Please let the receptionist know if you feel you need to lie down.
My medical condition means that I get angry and confrontational when I feel stressed. Will this be taken into account by your staff?
Our staff will make every effort to treat you with respect. We ask that they be treated with respect in return. Let us know in advance if you feel you may not be able to control your anger. It’s very important that our staff are safe and able to conduct your assessment fairly.
I want my assessment done by a Healthcare Professional of the same gender. Can I ask for this?
Yes. For more information please call our Enquiries line on 0800 288 8777. Our lines are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm, and Saturdays from 9am to 5pm.
Will I have to do movements that cause me pain?
The Healthcare Professional will not ask you to make any movements that cause you discomfort. If you are worried that certain movements may cause you pain, please tell the Healthcare Professional.
I don’t remember things and find it hard to answer questions. Will my companion be able to help me?
You may bring a companion with you to your assessment. This might be a carer, friend, relative, case worker or other companion. Your companion can help you answer questions. They can also help you fill in the form.
Will the person assessing me be a doctor? Will they understand my condition?
Our Healthcare Professionals include doctors, nurses and physiotherapists. All will have training in how to carry out your assessment fairly and compassionately. All are specially trained to complete your assessment with dignity and respect. They will not carry out a medical consultation in the way that your GP does. They will assess your functional ability to work.
Will I have enough time to explain about how my condition affects me?
Yes. The Healthcare Professional will ask you questions about how your condition affects you day to day. They will give you the time you need to respond or to mention other ways your illness, disability or health condition affects you.
I’ve been told I’m fit for work, in the Work Related Activity Group, in the Support Group. What does this mean?
The Health Assessment Advisory Service does not make the decision about your entitlement to benefit. If you have received a decision letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), please call the number on that letter to discuss this with DWP. Learn more about benefits on the Government's website.
I’m finding all of this very difficult and it’s hard to cope. Can someone else fill the form in for me?
If you need help filling in the ESA50 form, you can ask a friend, relative, carer or representative such as a support worker to help you.
Alternatively, you can now speak to a dedicated advisor on our ESA50 helpline by calling 0800 288 8777. Select option 1 for the English language service, then option 2 for our advisory team. For the Welsh language service, please call our Customer Enquiry line and press option 2.
Can I have some further information on the ESA50 questionnaire that I have to fill in for my Work Capability Assessment?
Once you have applied for Employment Support Allowance (ESA), an ESA50 questionnaire is automatically sent to you. At intervals, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will reassess your claim and you may receive more than one questionnaire during your ESA claim period. You need to fill in each one sent to you when requested to do so.
It’s really important that you complete the form as fully as possible, answering all of the questions. It is also vital that you return the form by the date on the letter you are sent.
If you need help filling in the form, you can now speak to a dedicated advisors on our ESA50 helpline by calling 0800 288 8777. Select option 1 for the English language service, then option 2 for our advisory team. For the Welsh language service, please call our Customer Enquiry line and press option 2.
DWP may not be able to continue to pay you benefits if we don’t receive this form in time. If you cannot return the form in time, let us know as soon as possible. There is also a box that allows you to explain why your form was late. If you have any concerns at all about the form, it’s important that you contact us as soon as you can or ask a representative to contact us.
Can I get any help to fill in the form?
If you need help filling in the form, you can ask a friend, relative, carer or representative such as a support worker to help you.
Alternatively, you can now speak to a dedicated advisor on our ESA50 helpline by calling 0800 288 8777. Select option 1 for the English language service, then option 2 for our advisory team. For the Welsh language service, please call our Customer Enquiry line and press option 2.
I’m embarrassed about my condition. Do I have to write everything on the form? How will I discuss it with a stranger?
We understand that some conditions are embarrassing and difficult to talk about. Our Healthcare Professionals are trained to understand this and treat you with sensitivity and respect. It is important, however, that you give us as much information as you possibly can both on the form and at your assessment. Assessments are confidential and your information will be treated sensitively.
Does this letter and form mean I need to look for work?
No. We need to assess your ability to work now or in the future as part of your entitlement to benefit. However, a decision will be made by the Department for Work and Pensions once they have received all of the information you provide, your form and your assessment report.
Can I have my appointment letter in a different format?
Appointment letters are available in a range of accessible formats. For more information, please call our Enquiries line on 0800 288 8777. Our lines are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm, and Saturdays from 9am to 5pm.
What happens if I do not send back my ESA50 questionnaire?
It is vitally important that you return your form. It provides our Healthcare Professionals with information about your condition or disability. If you don’t return your form in time, the Department for Work and Pensions may not be able to continue to pay you benefits.
What happens if I leave ESA and reclaim within 12 weeks of my prior claim?
Your benefit can be reinstated in full without the need for a new Work Capability Assessment.
What happens with my support while I wait for an assessment?
Whilst you are waiting for your assessment to be completed, you will be paid the assessment rate designated under ESA. You can find more information about this on the DWP website.
How secure is the text message Service?
The service is provided by the Deparment of Work and Pensions (DWP) who provide a secure enviroment from which the service will operate.
Can I reply by text if I cannot make my appointment?
No. Due to the confidential nature of your appointments we cannot accept text message replies. You can contact us to discuss rearranging your appointment on 0800 288 8777. Our Customer Enquiries lines are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm, and Saturdays 9am to 5pm.
Will the text message be private? E.g. will it include any sensitive information?
The text message contains a brief reminder of the date and time of your appointment, as well as the location of your Assessment Centre. No sensitive information is included in the provision of the service.
How will you use the information?
The only information collected will be a record of the message being successfully delivered. This data will be used to support improving our services to you.