Benefits Assessment Support
Benefits Assessment Support helps adults experiencing mental health difficulties who live in Bromley, Lewisham or Greenwich 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 centres] 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."
The challenges of benefits assessments
Many people find attending benefits assessments difficult, increasing feelings of anxiety on top of any existing mental health and physical conditions they may have.
It can be difficult to find someone to attend benefits assessments with you for support, which may make it more challenging to explain to the assessors the full impact of any mental health problems you are experiencing. And while telephone assessments remove the anxiety around attending an assessment centre, they can also feel hugely challenging.
Because of these factors, people are often not awarded the benefits they need for everyday living, and need to go through a lengthy process of appeal while experiencing financial hardship and 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).
- Meet with you prior to your benefits assessment to get a full understanding of how your mental health needs affect your life. This can be by phone, video-conferencing, or face-to-face (when applicable).
- Attend your assessment with you, helping you give the assessor a full and accurate picture of your health.
- Meet with you within a month of the assessment to help you understand the next steps.
The support of a volunteer could increase the chances of benefits being awarded to you the first time around, avoiding a lengthy appeals process.
Following the COVID-19 lockdown, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) suspended all face-to-face assessments, and at the time of writing it is not known when they will resume. This means that all DWP and health assessments are currently being carried out by phone. Our volunteers are still available to support clients with assessments, and can give pre and post-assessment support by phone. They also offer Zoom video meetings to any clients who would like them. With fewer benefit assessments during lockdown, we have taken the opportunity to train our volunteers in providing wellbeing calls and Zoom meetings.
Contact and referrals
In order to access the Benefits Assessment Service you need to be referred by a professional. If you are not currently working with a professional, contact the organisation for the borough you live in below. You can also contact these organisations for general benefits enquiries.
Professionals can refer people to this service by downloading, completing and returning a Benefits Assessment Support Referral Form.