Thank you for contacting me about the face-to-face disability assessments during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Individuals with mental health conditions face certain challenges in the application and assessment process for benefits. Special provisions are in place to support people with a mental health condition in making a claim. For example, individuals may bring a relative, carer or friend to the assessment and all health professionals carrying out disability assessments receive specific training in assessing mental health conditions. Face to Face assessments can also actually help identify additional evidence to support a claimant. This is particularly the case with hidden disabilities, including those with mental health. Since the introduction of face to face assessments, people are now six times more likely to receive the highest level of support with a mental health condition than when it was purely paper based assessments.
The pauses to face-to-face assessments were brought in to safeguard the public and staff and in recognition of the need of DWP staff to focus on the processing of new claims. The pause is still in place and Ministers in DWP are currently reviewing these measures in light of the latest public health advice and will confirm next steps as soon as possible.