Disability benefits evaluation: supporting information

In line with our evaluation strategy, this report is a policy impact evaluation of the supporting information aspect of the application process in the context of the devolved disability benefits



The Scotland Act 2016 gave the Scottish Government new powers which included responsibility over administering certain benefits such as disability benefits. The responsibility of delivering these benefits was therefore transferred from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) under the UK Government to Social Security Scotland under the Scottish Government.

One of the fundamental tenets of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 is the provision of social security as a human right, necessary for the realisation of other human rights. Disability assistance has therefore been designed with the intention of supporting individuals to access this right. This is reflected, amongst others, in Social Security Scotland's approach to making decisions on people's entitlement to disability benefits. Rather than performing a gatekeeping function, Social Security Scotland staff's role is to ensure individuals receive the level of support they are entitled to. Importantly, this must be done in a way that preserves people's dignity, is fair, and treats them with respect.

The approach to delivering disability benefits has been developed by listening to individuals who have lived experience of the DWP benefits as well as working with organisations who represent disabled people. This approach has transpired into a series of policy commitments that underpin Social Security Scotland's approach to delivering benefits.

The Scottish Government's Devolved Disability Benefits Evaluation Strategy (PDF, 582.6kB) outlines our approach to evaluating whether the delivery of disability benefits is done in line with these policy commitments, and whether our policy commitments have the intended impact. These benefits include:

  • Child Disability Payment (CDP), which replaces Disability Living Allowance for children administered by the DWP, and was rolled out across Scotland in November 2021, following a pilot that started on 26 July 2021.
  • Adult Disability Payment (ADP), which replaces Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Working Age Disability Living Allowance administered by DWP, and was rolled out across Scotland in August 2022, following a pilot that started on 21 March 2022.
  • Pension Age Disability Payment (PADP), which will replace Attendance Allowance when it is launched in 2024.

Policy impact evaluations involve the systematic assessment of a government policy's design, implementation, and outcomes. In the context of social security, this involves understanding how a benefit or aspects thereof are being implemented and what effects it has had, for whom, and why as well as whether its implementation and delivery are in line with the policy and meet the policy intent. These evaluations provide insight into how benefits are contributing to Social Security Scotland principles and wider Scottish Government objectives. This includes, for example, individuals trusting in Social Security Scotland and public services treating people with dignity, fairness, and respect.

Supporting Information Policy

Individuals can apply to receive disability benefits such as ADP or CDP. The application form for these benefits asks them about their condition or disability, how it impacts them and their ability to move around. It also asks them what support they need and any medication, equipment, or treatment they need in relation to their situation, condition, or disability.

Supporting information is information provided by a person or organisation other than the individual themselves which is presented to support the decision-making process on their application or award review. Supporting information can be provided with an individual's application or review form, or after an individual has submitted their application or review form. Supporting information describes how an individual's condition or disability affects them and what support they need.

There are two types of supporting information:

  • Supporting information from a professional. This is supporting information from someone who, in their professional capacity, is familiar with the impact of the individual's condition and/or their treatment, care, or needs. This could, amongst others, include people who work in health or social care, education, or any other professional who is involved in the individual's treatment or care.
  • Supporting information from an individual's wider support network. This can give insight into the impact the condition or disability has on the individual on a daily basis. This can include, amongst others, family, partner, friends and unpaid carers (the mygov website provides a more detailed list of supporting information examples).

Supporting information performs an important role in the decision-making process. People are asked to provide one piece of supporting information from a professional that broadly confirms their condition, disability or needs. Additionally, supporting information is one of several decision-making tools that support case managers in establishing the individual's level of need, should their application or review form not provide all the details needed to establish entitlement.

Other decision-making tools are, amongst others, case discussions, guidance, or consultations (for ADP cases only). Providing additional detail to application and review forms and allowing Social Security Scotland staff to have a better, more rounded understanding of an individual's disability, situation, or condition, supporting information can be extremely instrumental in helping staff make decisions over entitlement to an award.

The evaluation of supporting information forms an integral part of the Devolved Disability Benefits Evaluation Strategy (PDF, 582.6kB) to evaluate the policy impact of our disability benefits. Policy commitments for the supporting information process are:

  • Clear and accessible guidance is provided on what supporting information is most useful. This includes internal guidance for Social Security Scotland staff and external guidance for applicants, individuals who are currently receiving benefits, and other individuals providing supporting information.
  • Case Managers (Social Security Scotland staff) work collaboratively with individuals to identify the most useful supporting information.
  • Case Managers can gather supporting information on the individual's behalf.
  • Supporting information only needs to broadly support the application or review, rather than confirm every detail the individual has given in their application or review form.
  • Case Managers have discretion to make an award in the absence of supporting information.
  • Generally, only one piece of supporting information is sought from a professional per application.
  • Supporting information both from professionals and the individual's wider support network is accepted.
  • Different types of supporting information are given equal consideration.

As the above context shows, supporting information is an essential policy area of disability benefits, feeding into the wider decision-making process. All decisions made on disability benefits are based on the balance of probabilities. This means that a factual circumstance must be accepted as true if the information provided shows that it is more likely than not that it occurred. Rather than seeking further supporting information to ensure they have all details confirmed, Case Managers should make decisions based on the balance of probabilities if they do not have all the information needed to establish the facts of a case.


Email: Stefania.Pagani@gov.scot

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