New to Universal Credit

10. 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

If you say you have a health condition or disability you may be asked to attend a Work Capability Assessment to find out if your health condition or disability affects your ability to work.

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

This means that although you may be 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 sickness 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 3 April 2017, you will receive the limited capability for work amount of Universal Credit – currently £126.11 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

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 £328.32 per month.

With all 3 Work Capability Assessment outcomes you may be eligible to apply for other benefits, including new style Employment and Support Allowance. Use a benefits calculator to find out what you may be able to get.

Some people may be considered to have limited capability for work or limited capability for work and work-related activity without having to attend a Work Capability Assessment.

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 one or both of you have limited capability for work and work-related activity you will receive the limited capability for work and work-related activity payment.
  • If you both have limited capability for work, and were receiving a benefit payment due to it before 3 April 2017, you will receive the limited capability for work payment.

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.

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

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, you may not have to take the assessment again.

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 payment 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 payment in Universal Credit.

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 that ESA claim, even if your appeal is successful. You will remain on Universal Credit and any relevant changes will be made to your Universal Credit payments. Any arrears due from your time on ESA will be paid as a lump sum.

In some circumstances you may be able to receive ESA at the same time as Universal Credit, but this will be paid as new style ESA. For every £1 you receive from new style ESA, your Universal Credit payment will be reduced by £1.

If your Work Capability Assessment has a review date, you will need to have another assessment at that time. If your health has changed at this point this may affect whether you continue to receive a limited capability for work or a limited capability for work and work-related activity payment.

Terminal illness

You may get extra money from Universal Credit if you’re terminally ill.

If you’re making a new claim you can declare this during your application.

If you’ve already claimed Universal Credit and are diagnosed with a terminal illness you should report this as a change of circumstances. This can be done through your Universal Credit account. If you don’t have an online account, call the Universal Credit helpline

You can also get someone else to report the change for you. Find out more about Universal Credit if you have a terminal illness

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