Changes For People Who Have a Limited Capability For Work
There are new rules from April 2017 for Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit. If you make a new claim for ESA on or after 3 April 2017 (either Contributory or Income-Related), and you are put in the Work Related Activity Group, you will not receive the Work Related Activity Component. This component is worth £29.05 per week. However, if you are put in the Support Group, you will receive the Support Component of £37.65 per week.
There is a similar rule for Universal Credit. If
- you make a new claim for Universal Credit on or after 3 April 2017 because you have become too sick to work (Note: this is only possible in areas which have the Digital UC Service),
- or you have been claiming Universal Credit as a jobseeker, but you have become ill, so you make a request to be referred to a Work Capability Assessment on or after 3 April 2017,
- or if you are found to have a Limited Capability For Work Activity (LCWRA) you will receive the LCWRA Element.
Protection If You Already Have A Limited Capability For Work
There is some protection if you were already on these benefits with a limited capability for work when the new rules came in. If your ESA award includes the Work Related Activity Component, or you already have a LCW element included in your Universal Credit award, this will continue and will only end if you are found fit for work, or there is a break in your claim.
Also, if your ESA claim was made before 3 April 2017, you're in the Support Group, and when you are next reassessed you are moved into the Work Related Activity Group, you will be paid the Work Related Activity Component.
Similar rules apply to Universal Credit claimants.
- If when the rules came in on 3 April 2017, you had the Limited Capability for Work-Related Activity Element included in your assessment
- If following your next Work Capability Assessment you are found to have Limited Capability for Work but not a Limited Capability for Work-Related Activities,
you can have an LCW element included in your Universal Credit assessment.
Requesting A Backdate
If you are making a new claim for ESA after 3 April 2017 but before 3 July 2017, requesting a backdate may be particularly useful. The reason for this is that if the claim is dated before 3 April 2017 and you are put in the Work-Related Activity Group, you will be paid the Work-Related Activity Component. Therefore, if you made your claim later than you could or should have done, you can ask for your ESA claim to be backdated by up to 3 months.
Note that ESA cannot be backdated further than the day after your Statutory Sick Pay ended, or if you were claiming a different benefit which cannot be claimed at the same time as ESA.
Challenging a Decision
If you are or have been found fit for work following a Work Capability Assessment and you do not think you are, then you should seek advice about challenging the decision. We can help witrh this, simply contact us on 0300 304 5000.
Many people who take their challenges to appeal stage are successful. If the decision that you were fit for work was made less than 13 months ago, it could still be possible to challenge it. If you win your challenge, this could mean that your period of limited capability for work started before 3 April 2017, so you will be paid the relevant component / element.
Susan has been getting ESA for 2 years, but in June 2017 after a reassessment, she is found to be fit for work. She claims Universal Credit (UC). She decides to challenge the decision, asking for a Mandatory Reconsideration and then she appeals. In December 2017 she wins her appeal and is found to have a limited capability for work (LCW).
An LCW Element gets added into her UC claim, backdated to June 2017 as her current period of limited capability for work started when she claimed ESA back in 2015.