This guide will show you how to challenge a work capability assessment decision by asking the DWP to look again at their decision (called a 'mandatory reconsideration’).
Universal credit was brought in to replace 6 means-tested benefits. The part of Universal credit that replaces Employment Support Allowance (ESA) is called the limited capability for work element. Whether or not you are entitled is worked out in exactly the same way – this is called the Work Capability Assessment. The Work Capability Assessment for each uses the exact same activities, descriptors and points system. The mandatory reconsideration and appeal process are also exactly the same.
Whether or not you are entitled to Universal Credit on the basis of being unable to work is based on how your illness or impairment affects you, and what very specific things you are unable to do without assistance.
Whether or not you are found capable of work is decided using a complicated points system. For example, if you cannot usually stay standing or sitting (or a combination of the two) at a desk for more than an hour because it makes you too tired or it hurts, you get 6 points. If you cannot usually go to even a familiar place on your own, you get 9 points, etc. So, to be awarded Limited Capability for work (LCW) you need to score 15 points overall. To be awarded Limited Capability for Work Related Activities you need to meet the criteria for LCW plus one of the LCWRA descriptors.
You can see the activities, descriptors and points at
You get a letter from the DWP telling you their decision on your claim. It may be that:
- your claim has been closed because you didn’t send back the form in time or go to the medical assessment
- you have been found fit for work because you didn’t score enough points in the assessment, or
- you have been put in the wrong group.
If you are unhappy with this decision, you have 1 month from the date at the top of the letter to ask for a Mandatory Reconsideration. This is where the DWP look at the decision again.
It’s also worth remembering that you do have up to 13 months to request a MR, as long as you can provide a “good reason” for requesting one later than the normal 1 month timeframe.
So, you have the letter notifying you of the decision & it’s you do not have “Limited Capability for Work”, you don’t agree with the decision, so where do you begin?
You have been awarded Limited Capability for Work (LCW) but believe you should have been awarded Limited Capability for Work Related Activities (LCWRA), so what can you do?
Have a look at the LCWRA descriptors & see if you feel you would meet any one of the descriptors, if you do then complete the Mandatory Reconsideration.
You also need to be aware, that the assessment will be looked at again by another Decision Maker & the decision could very easily go the other way & you could lose the Limited Capability for Work award.
The first step is to contact Universal Credit by calling them on 0800 328 5644 & requesting a copy of the assessor’s report & informing them you will be requesting a Mandatory Reconsideration & that you will do so in writing. It should take no more than a couple of weeks to receive the report, if a couple of weeks pass & no report, ring Universal Credit to ask what is holding up the sending of the report
The report arrives, you need to go through the assessor’s report & highlight any points that you don’t agree with. Then on a separate piece of paper you need to start writing down why you disagree with each point that you have highlighted & also give the correct information that you feel it should be. So, what you need to do is to explain how your symptoms impact your daily activities before, during & after & link each one with the LCW / LCWRA descriptors.
When you actually come to write the letter to the DWP you need to be aware of some key points.
What you need to provide
You need to give:
- the date of the original benefit decision
- your name and address
- your date of birth
- your National Insurance number
Explain what part of the decision is wrong and why.
If you want to send evidence
This needs to shows why the decision was wrong. It could, for example, be:
- new medical evidence
- reports or care plans from specialists, therapists or nurses
- bank statements or payslips
Only include evidence you have not already sent.
Write your full name, date of birth and National Insurance number at the top of each bit of evidence and send it to the benefit office where you applied for your benefit.
You can then either create a typed or hand written letter, both methods are perfectly acceptable.
A friend or relative or local advice agency can write the mandatory reconsideration letter on your behalf, acting as your representative.
I’ve completed my mandatory reconsideration, where do I send this?
Always send your mandatory reconsideration letter by 1st class signed for delivery, so that you can track this and ensure this has been received. Then if any issues do arise, you have evidence to prove that this has been received.
The postal address to send your MR to is:
Canterbury Benefit Centre
Mail Handling Site A
Once I have sent the mandatory reconsideration letter, what happens next?
When your mandatory reconsideration has been received, this will be reviewed by another Decision Maker.
The Decision Maker will look at your questionnaire (UC50) again, any new and existing medical evidence, the assessor’s report and your mandatory reconsideration letter.
The DWP will send you two copies of their reconsideration decision.
It should say at the top of the letter ‘Mandatory Reconsideration Notice’
You need these if you wish to go to an appeal.
If their decision has been changed and you are happy with it, you can stop here.
But if it hasn’t, don’t be put off by it. You have 1 month to then ask for an appeal.