What if I become unwell / disabled?

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If health problems are affecting your ability to look for work, let your Work Coach know about this straight away because they should allow you time off your job search. If you don’t, you could be sanctioned for failing to do the work search / preparation required in your Claimant Commitment.

Short Term Illness

If you are ill for more than 7 days you will need to provide your Work Coach with medical certificates from your GP – sometimes called a ‘fit note’, so think about booking an appointment with your doctor now, in case you cannot get one straight away.

If your health problems are only short term, then your Work Coach can usually suspend any work search / preparation requirements in your Claimant Commitment. Make sure you continue to provide medical certificates from your GP to cover you.

If your health problems are going to be more long term then it is probably worth asking your Work Coach to refer you for a Work Capability Assessment.

Longer Term Health Problem

If your illness is likely to last a few weeks provide your Work Coach with a ‘fit note’ and ask them to refer you for a Work Capability Assessment – this will help the DWP decide whether you have a Limited Capability for Work or not. If you do, then you will not be expected to look for work or apply for jobs.

While you are waiting for this to take place, ask for your work search requirements to be reduced; your Work Coach should consider what is reasonable for you to be doing in the light of your health problems. If you do not ask for your work search requirements to be reduced, you are more at risk of being sanctioned. If your Work Coach refuses, or you think what is being expected is unreasonable, seek advice.

You must continue to provide ‘fit’ notes until the DWP have decided whether you have a Limited Capability for Work or not.

They will do this by asking you to complete a medical questionnaire (UC50) and attend a medical assessment. It is usually best that you have help completing the UC50 – contact a Benefits Adviser.

While the DWP are considering this make sure you:

  • Continue to meet your Claimant Commitment – but ask your Work Coach to have it altered.
  • Complete the medical questionnaire – get help from a Benefits Adviser
  • Attend a medical assessment, the Work Capability Assessment – get advice from a Benefits Adviser before attending.

If you are or have been found fit for work following a Work Capability Assessment and you do not think you are fit for work, get advice about challenging the decision. 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 is still possible to challenge it.

NOTE: Some people may be considered to have limited capability for work without having to attend a Work Capability Assessment.

The Work Capability Assessment

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 that the DWP do not feel that your health condition or disability affects your ability to work enough to prevent you from working. 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.
If you disagree with this decision you can challenge it – seek advice from a Benefits Adviser.

2. Having a Limited Capability for Work
This means that although you may be not be able to look for work now due to your health condition or disability, the DWP feel that you can prepare for work with the aim of working at some time in the future.

You don’t normally receive any extra Universal Credit. 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, your award will include the Limited Capability for Work Element.
See If you have a health problem that affects your ability to work for more information.

3. Having a 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. Your Universal Credit award will include the Limited Capability for Work and Work-Related Activity component.
See If you have a health problem that affects your ability to work for more information.

If you are working

You may have a health condition or disability and be in work.

You can still have a Work Capability Assessment in certain circumstances:

  • If you earn less than the equivalent of 16 hours work per week paid at the National Minimum Wage then you can have a Work Capability Assessment.
  • If you earn more than the equivalent of 16 hours’ work per week paid at the National Minimum Wage, you will only be able to have a Work Capability Assessment if you are also getting Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

If you are found to have a Limited Capability for Work you will become entitled to a work allowance (if you do not already have one included in your Universal Credit award).
See How does Universal Credit work for workers? for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions