Benefits Assessment Support
Benefits Assessment Support helps adults who live in the London boroughs of Bromley, Lewisham or Greenwich and are experiencing mental health difficulties to prepare for and attend benefits assessments.
“It helped me a lot. He [the volunteer] put me at ease as I don’t like going to places like that [benefits assessment] and the distances, not knowing what to expect. He looked after me, by just knowing what to expect. He talked me through it before we even started. Without the volunteer I would have lost my benefits…”
Following the COVID-19 lockdown, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) suspended all face-to-face assessments, and it is currently not known when these will resume. This means that for the time being DWP and Health assessments need to be carried out by telephone. Our volunteers are available to support clients with assessments, and can also give pre and post-assessment support over the phone. In addition, we can offer clients Zoom meetings.
Challenges of Benefits Assessments
Many people find attending benefits assessments alone difficult, causing increased anxiety on top of existing mental health and physical conditions.
It can be difficult to find someone to go to assessments with you for support. This can make it challenging to explain the full impact of mental health problems on you to the assessors.
In many cases, people are not awarded the benefits they need for everyday living, and often need to go through a lengthy process of appeal while experiencing financial hardship and, possibly, deteriorating health.
You don’t need to go through your benefits assessment alone.
How We Can Help You
Benefits Assessment Support provides trained volunteers who understand what the benefits assessment process can be like (and have sometimes been through it themselves). They can:
- Contact you prior to your benefits assessment to get a full understanding of how your mental health needs affect your life.
- Attend your face-to-face or telephone assessment with you, helping you give the assessor a full and accurate picture of your health.
- Contact you after your assessment to help you understand the next steps.
The support of a volunteer could increase the chances of benefits being awarded first time around, avoiding a lengthy appeal process.
Contact and Referrals
Individuals who would like to access this service must be referred by a professional. If you are not currently working with a professional, contact any of the following, depending upon where you live:
Professionals can refer people to this service by downloading, completing and returning a referral form.