If you have a health condition or disability when making a claim for Universal Credit
When you make a claim for Universal Credit you will be asked if you have either a health condition or a disability which prevents, or limits, your ability to work. If you answer ‘yes’, you may be asked to attend a Work Capability Assessment (WCA).
In most circumstances, if you remain unable to work due to your health conditions for 4 weeks, you will be referred for a WCA on the 29th day of your claim.
You may be referred for a WCA on the first day of your claim when one of the following applies:
you are terminally ill
you are pregnant and there is a serious risk of damage to your health, or to the health of your unborn child if you do not refrain from work or work-related activity
you are receiving or are about to receive treatment for cancer by way of chemotherapy or radiotherapy – or you are recovering from such treatment
you are in hospital or similar institution for 24 hours or longer
you are prevented from working by law
you are receiving treatment such as dialysis, plasmapheresis or total parenteral nutrition for gross impairment of enteric function or are recovering after receiving one of these types of treatment
The Work Capability Assessment process
You are usually sent a questionnaire (UC50) to complete. You may also be required to take part in a medical assessment. However, a decision can be made without a questionnaire or a medical if it is considered that there is enough other information.
Medical assessments can be carried out (by a doctor or other 'approved healthcare professional' ) on behalf of the DWP medical service by the Health Assessment Advisory Service.
For official information about the assessment, such as having audio recording of your medical, using an interpreter and the location of assessment centres, see https://www.chdauk.co.uk/
There are no rules on how often you are reassessed. Usually, this is decided by the DWP medical service. If you are assessed as having LCWRA and having a 'severe, lifelong' disability or condition and are 'unlikely to ever be able to move into work', you will not be reassessed.
Work Capability Assessments (WCA)
The WCA is a test used by the DWP to decide whether:
You have 'limited capability for work' - eg, whether you can get benefit on the basis of being unable to work; and
You have 'limited capability for work-related activity' - eg, whether your health condition is so severe that, in addition to not being able to work, you are not required to engage in activity such as attending interviews about looking work or retraining.
The assessment is used to decide whether you can get extra amounts included in your Universal Credit and your work-related responsibilities if you come under the Universal Credit system.
You satisfy the WCA if you score sufficient points, the assessment does not take into account actual jobs, your education or training, or any language or literacy problems. It is a test of your ability to perform certain activities, taking into account of a 'specific bodily disease or disablement' or a 'specific mental illness or disablement', and the direct results of medical treatment for these.
There are two lists of activities: one physical and one mental.
Under each activity, there is a further list of statements, called 'Descriptors', which describe different levels of difficulty in carrying out the activity.
Attached to each descriptor is a points score. You are awarded the highest scoring descriptor in each activity that applies to you.
To be awarded Limited Capability for Work (LCW)
You need to score 15 points or more from the limited capability for work schedule 2 activities below. Only the highest score for each activity can be counted.
There are circumstances that someone can be treated as LCW without the need for a WCA, for example if you are terminally ill, are on certain treatment programs or are over state pension age and in receipt of a disability benefit.
To be awarded Limited Capability for Work and Work-Related Activity (LCWRA)
You need to score 15 points or more from the limited capability for work Schedule 2 activities below. Only the highest score for each activity can be counted. You must also satisfy at least one of the limited capabilities for work-related activity Schedule 3 descriptors below.
Assessment of whether a claimant has Limited Capability for Work (LCW)
Assessment of whether a claimant has Limited Capability for Work & Work-Related Activity (LCWRA)
There are 3 possible outcomes from a Work Capability Assessment.
You will be assessed as one of the following:
1. Fit for work
This means you will be expected to look for work or to increase your earnings. You will not receive any additional amounts of Universal Credit due to sickness or disability.
2. Having limited capability for work (LCW)
This means that although you may not be able to look for work now, you can prepare for work with the aim of working at some time in the future.
If you are claiming benefit for the first time and have never had a Work Capability Assessment before, you will not receive any additional amounts of Universal Credit due to a health condition or disability.
However, if you were assessed as having limited capability for work and have been continuously receiving a benefit because of that condition since before 3rd April 2017, you will receive the limited capability for work amount of Universal Credit – currently £132.89 per month. You will still be able to receive this extra amount if you had a break in your claim because of earnings that lasted for less than 6 months.
3. Having limited capability for work and work-related activity (LCWRA)
This means you will not be asked to look for work, or to prepare for work. You will get paid more Universal Credit due to your sickness or disability. You will receive the limited capability for work and work-related activity component of Universal Credit – currently £354.28 per month.
If you are working
If you earn more than the equivalent of 16 hours’ work per week paid at the National Minimum Wage, you will not be able to receive either the limited capability for work or limited capability for work and work-related activity payment unless you are also getting Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP). If you are getting DLA or PIP you will still need to attend a Work Capability Assessment to assess whether you can receive this extra amount.