11. Health conditions or disabilities
If you have a health condition or disability which prevents you from working, or limits the amount of work you can do, Universal Credit can provide you with both financial and work-related support.
Work Capability Assessments
When you apply for Universal Credit, you’ll be asked if you have a health condition or disability that affects your capability for work. If you do, you’ll be asked to provide medical evidence of having that health condition of disability. Medical evidence must be provided to support your claim, most commonly a Statement of Fitness for Work usually referred to as a fit note.
If that health condition or disability continues for four weeks or more, you will be referred for a Work Capability Assessment (WCA). This assessment is to understand how much your health condition or disability affects your capability for work. WCAs are carried out by fully qualified health care professionals who are contracted on behalf of the DWP. Wherever possible, these assessments will be based on the medical evidence available to us, though, in some cases, it may be necessary to book an appointment with you for a more detailed interview. If you need one, you’ll get a letter with a time for an appointment. Assessment appointments can take place face-to-face, by telephone or by video. Your appointment letter will set out how it will take place.
Following your WCA, the health care professional who undertook the assessment will send an outcome report with advice and recommendations to one of Universal Credit’s decision makers. The decision maker will consider that advice and recommendations, and, together with any other relevant medical information available, will decide if you are one of the following:
1. You have limited capability for work
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.
Your work coach will discuss your situation and agree next steps to help you start preparing for work. For example, by writing a CV.
2. You have limited capability for work and work-related activity
This means you will not be asked to look for work, or to prepare for work.
You may get extra money as well as your standard allowance.
3. You are fit for work
This means you will be expected to prepare for work, look for work, and take up work.
You will get the standard allowance of Universal Credit based on your circumstances.
If it is decided that you have either limited capability for work or that you have limited capability for work and work related activity, you will be given:
- a work allowance
- in couple claims, increased access to help with childcare costs
In addition, where it is decided that you have limited capability for work and work related activity, you will be awarded the limited capability for work and work-related activity addition of Universal Credit – currently £354.28 per month. Please note this rate will increase to £390.06 per month from April 2023.
If your WCA has a review date, you will need to have another assessment at that time. If your health has changed since your previous WCA, this may affect your entitlement to the additional benefits mentioned above.
Claiming as a couple
If you are making a claim as a couple and both of you have limited capability for work or limited capability for work and work-related activity, your joint household payment will include only one additional amount.
If you are working
If you are able to manage your health condition or disability so that you are able to work, even if only for a few hours a week, you may also be entitled to the additional benefits referred to above. Entitlement to those benefits depends whether you can be referred for a WCA, and, if you can, on the decision made on your capability for work based on the outcome of that WCA.
If you are working, you can only be referred for a WCA where your earnings are below a specified amount, or equal to, or exceed that specified amount and you are entitled to one of the following benefits:
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Attendance Allowance (AA)
- Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP)
The specified amount of earnings is the equivalent of 16 hours’ work per week paid at the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage.
If your condition changes
You must let the Department for Work and Pensions know if:
- your condition has got better
- your condition has got worse, or
- you have a new health condition
If you are already getting Universal Credit and develop a health condition or become disabled, you must tell the Department for Work and Pensions as soon as possible. You won’t need to change benefits. You will stay on Universal Credit and your Claimant Commitment will be reviewed to take into account your new circumstances.
For more information about Work Capability Assessments and how Universal Credit supports people with a disability or health condition, see Health conditions, disability and Universal Credit
Access to work
Access to Work (ATW) is a grant that can provide support for disabled people to start or stay in work. The grant provides practical and financial support if you have a disability or health condition that makes it hard for you to do your job.
An Access to Work grant can pay for practical support to help you:
- start working
- stay in work
- move into self-employment or start a business
How much you get depends on your circumstances. The money does not have to be paid back and will not affect your other benefits.
You may be able to get help with working from home, at your normal workplace, or a combination of both.
If you cannot use public transport safely because of your disability, and your doctor or healthcare professional supports this, funding may be available for extra travel costs.
Moving from Employment and Support Allowance
If you move from Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) to Universal Credit and have already been assessed as having limited capability for work or limited capability for work and work-related activity, and there is no break in your claim, UC may be able to use the ESA WCA outcome decision.
This means if you received the work-related activity component in ESA and there is no break in your claim, you will receive the limited capability for work addition in Universal Credit.
If you received the support component in ESA and there is no break in your claim, you will receive the limited capability for work and work-related activity addition in Universal Credit.
You can receive New Style ESA at the same time as Universal Credit. For every £1 you receive from New Style ESA, your Universal Credit payment will be reduced by £1.
If you claim Universal Credit whilst appealing against a Work Capability Assessment decision that relates to your previous ESA claim, you will not be able to return to income-related ESA, even if your appeal is successful. You will remain on Universal Credit and any relevant changes will be made to your Universal Credit payments. You can return to New Style ESA. Any arrears of New Style ESA to which you may be entitled will be paid as a lump sum.
Severe disability premium
If you were entitled to the severe disability premium (SDP) in the month before you made your Universal Credit claim, you may be able to receive an SDP-related transitional protection amount as part of your Universal Credit payment.
If you’re entitled to this transitional protection amount, you’ll get it automatically as part of your Universal Credit payment. You will be told about this through your Universal Credit account. It will be shown on your Universal Credit statement as ‘transitional protection’.
If you have recently separated from your partner who received the SDP, you will need to apply for Universal Credit within one month of separating if you are to receive the transitional protection amount. You will need to tell DWP that your former partner received the SDP so that they know to consider you for an SDP-related transitional protection amount.
The amount you get will depend on your circumstances.
If you start work or begin earning more, your transitional protection amount may be affected in the same way as the rest of your Universal Credit payment. For every £1 you earn above your work allowance, your Universal Credit payment will be reduced by 55 pence.
If you have a change of circumstances that would increase the amount of Universal Credit you get, your transitional protection amount will be reduced by the same amount. Your total Universal Credit payment will therefore stay the same unless the increase is larger than your transitional protection amount, at which point your Universal Credit will increase.
If you’re nearing the end of life.
You may get extra money from Universal Credit if you’re nearing the end of life and have been told you have 12 months or less to live.
If you’re making a new claim you can declare this during your application.
If you’ve already claimed Universal Credit and are told that you have 12 months or less to live, it is important that you report this as a change of circumstances. This can be done through your Universal Credit account. You can also get someone else to report the change for you.
Find out more about benefits if you’re nearing the end of life.