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Last updated:
26/08/2020

How to claim Universal credit with a mental health condition

You may be able to receive Universal Credit without having to work or look for work because of a mental health condition. We explain how to claim Universal Credit with a mental health condition.

Depending on the severity of your mental health condition, the Department for Work and Pensions could agree that:

  • You won't have to work or prepare for work - this is classed as having limited capability for work-related activity (LCWRA).
  • You won’t be required to work, but you may be expected to do regular tasks to prepare for work in the future - this is called limited capability for work (LCW).

Preparing for work in the future could include tasks such as:

  • Attending regular Universal Credit meetings with your work coach.
  • Writing a CV.
  • Taking training to improve your employability for the future.

You should tell the DWP you have LCW or LCWRA immediately. You can do this by adding a fit note - from your local GP or hospital - to your online Universal Credit account at the start of your claim or when you become unwell.

If you are making a new Universal Credit claim, you can use the online application to explain how your mental health condition makes it difficult for you to look for or partake in work.

If you already claim Universal Credit and you have a mental health condition you should speak to your Universal Credit work coach.

Once the DWP are aware of how your mental health condition is affecting your ability to work or look for work, you may receive LCW or LCWRA automatically.

However, you will more than likely need to fill in a UC50 form and attend a Work Capability Assessment - a test called to decide if you can claim Universal Credit with a limited capability for work element.

Claiming Universal Credit if you do or have claimed Severe Disability Premium

You can’t claim Universal Credit if you’re currently getting, or received in the last month, a benefit with a Severe Disability Premium (SDP).

You may have received a Severe Disability Premium as part of the following benefits:

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
  • Income Support.
  • Housing Benefit.

Getting LCW or LCWRA automatically

There are certain situations where you will be awarded either LCW or LCWRA automatically without having to apply.

ESA

You will automatically receive LCW or LCWRA for Universal Credit if you are in an Employment Support Allowance (ESA) support group as long as there is no break between your ESA claim and your Universal Credit claim.

You won’t be required to fill in the UC50 form or attend a Work Capability Assessment for Universal Credit. The DWP may make a request for another Work Capability Assessment, but you do not need to and should challenge their decision.

Over pension age and receive other benefits

You will automatically receive LCWRA if you are old enough to receive a state pension and receiving any of the following benefits:

  • Attendance Allowance.
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP) with the enhanced daily living component.
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with the highest rate care component.

You will be eligible for LCW if you receive either:

  • DLA, but not the highest rate care component
  • PIP, but not the enhanced daily living component

You’re in a hospital or have been sectioned

If you are in a hospital or have been sanctioned because of your mental health condition, you will automatically receive LCW. When you are discharged the DWP may agree that you have LCW if you need time to recover.

Read our guide on managing your money if you are in a hospital or have been sectioned.

Providing evidence that you aren’t capable of working

If you don’t qualify to receive LCW or LCWRA automatically, you will be asked to complete a form called UC50, and more than likely be invited to attend a Work Capability Assessment to provide evidence that you aren’t capable of working.

What you say on the form and at your assessment will be used by the DWP to determine if you have LCW or LCWRA.

Filling in the UC50 form with a mental health condition

When you have been sent the UC50 form you will need to complete this and send it back within four weeks of the date the form was sent -if you don’t do this, the DWP will declare that you are fit for work.

The UC50 form is where you should explain to the DWP how your mental health condition affects your ability to work, and why you shouldn't need to look for work as part of your Universal Credit claim.

Read our guide on how to fill in the UC50 form when living with a mental health condition. Here we give tips and suggestions on what to consider when answering mental health-related questions.

You should also use this form to mention any adjustments you want to be made for your Universal Credit Work Capability Assessment.

For example, you can request:

  • The healthcare professional to be a specialist in mental health.
  • Ask for any adjustments that would make the assessment less stressful:
  • For example, you can request an open room if you struggle in confined spaces.
  • Ask for an interpreter or signer if you need one.
  • Ask for the assessor to be the same gender as you.
  • Ask if you can make an audio recording of the assessment.
  • Request a home visit if your mental health condition makes it difficult for you to leave your house.

If you need help filling the UC50 form in, a local welfare benefits advice service may be able to help you.

How to get medical evidence to support your claim

Supporting evidence - especially medical - can make a significant difference in the outcome of your Universal Credit claim for LCW or LCWRA.

You should provide supporting evidence to the DWP when sending back the UC50 form.

Supporting evidence can come in the form of:

  • Statement from a carer, friend or family member
  • Daily routine diary and personal statement about how your mental health condition stops your ability to work.
  • Medical evidence (records, prescriptions, letters from medical professionals).

Medical evidence for Universal Credit

Medical evidence is crucial when applying for Universal Credit and usually takes the form of a letter/report from your GP, psychiatrist, consultant or other healthcare professional.

Medical professionals can explain what your condition is, your treatment, and how the condition affects your ability to work.

When requesting medical evidence for Universal Credit, you should ask the medical professional to explain relevant information about how your mental health condition stops you from working.

The healthcare professional also needs to understand that you will be assessed on how you are most of the time.

You can also request your GP gives you copies of recent medical notes or letters from any specialists they have referred you to.

It can take a long time from when you request medical evidence to you receiving it; we recommend that you ask for it as soon as you can by either:

  • Visiting your GP face-to-face or,
  • Writing a letter to request medical evidence.

Use our free sample letter for requesting medical evidence. If you wish to use this template, you can personalise the letter to ensure it only includes information relevant to you.

You should also provide evidence for:

  • The medication you're on
  • Any hospital discharge notes
  • Documents from your community psychiatric nurse (CPN), cognitive therapist or social workers.

When requesting medical evidence, please make sure the person/s you are asking to provide the letter sends it to you rather than directly to the DWP – this way you can check that it is an accurate reflection of your condition and abilities.

How to send the UC50 form back

You will receive the UC50 form with an addressed envelope for you to send it back to the DWP. To avoid delays, you should always send this back rather than hand it into the Jobcentre.

When you send the form back, you should ask the Post Office for proof of postage, just in case the form is lost you will have proof that you sent it.

If possible, you should make a photocopy of the completed form so you can take it with you to your Work Capability Assessment, so you have a reference as to what you want to say.

If you send the UC50 form back late

You must send the form back within the four weeks of its posted date - this will be on the letter which comes with the form.

If you send back the form late, the DWP may accept this if you have a good reason as to why. You will need to fill in the box on page three with as much information as possible as to why you have sent it back late. This could include:

  • You were out of the country.
  • You had a family bereavement.
  • You have been ill.
  • You have been in hospital.
  • You didn't receive a reminder letter.

Universal Credit medical assessment for mental health

Once you have returned your UC50 form, the DWP will ask you to attend a medical assessment known as the Work Capability Assessment.

Your assessment will be with a medical professional, and they will ask you questions and may perform a physical examination. They will then send their report to the DWP, who will then decide if you have LCW or LCWRA.

You will receive a letter from the DWP which states when and where your Work Capability Assessment will be. You will be given seven days notice to allow you time to prepare.

If you can't make the assessment, you will need to inform the Health Assessment Advisory Service immediately. They will then rearrange an appointment if you have a good reason. However, if you don’t tell them and don’t turn up, you will be classed as fit for work.

If you can’t attend an assessment centre because you are housebound as a result of a mental health condition, you can request a home assessment.

You will need to contact the assessment provider and request a home assessment. You may be asked to provide medical evidence as to why you can’t attend the assessment centre.

Getting to your Work Capability Assessment

You can request back the money you spend travelling to and from your Universal Credit assessment.

You will need to keep your receipts and then ask the receptionist at the assessment centre for a travel expenses claim form and pre-paid self-addressed envelope. When returning the form, you must include all tickets and receipts.

You should call the Health Assessment Advisory Service in advance if you want to book a taxi or claim expenses for someone who is coming with you to offer support.

Work Capability Assessment

The Work Capability Assessment is your opportunity to explain to the assessor how your mental health condition makes it difficult for you to work and explain about any medication you're taking, treatment plans and psychotherapy you do for your mental health.

You will be assessed as soon as you arrive and they will consider how your condition affects you overall, on both good days and bad.
Read our guide on preparing for your Universal Credit Work Capability Assessment.

Getting your decision form the DWP

Following your assessment, the DWP will write to you explaining their decision - this may take several weeks or months.

While you are waiting for their decision, you won't receive LCW or LCWRA. You will need to provide a fit note from your doctor to your work coach, and they should then consider this when deciding what work-related activities you need to do for your Claimant Commitment.

The DWP say you don't have limited capability

If the DWP says you don’t have limited capability for work you can ask them to reconsider - this is called a mandatory reconsideration.

The DWP say you have limited capability

If the DWP agrees that you have a limited capability for work, you will be awarded either:

  • LCW - meaning you won’t have to work but may be required to do activities to prepare yourself for work in the future.
  • LCWRA - meaning you won’t have to work or do anything to prepare for work.

If you receive LCWRA, you will get extra money with your claim and won’t be affected by the benefit cap. Find out how much Universal Credit you can get.

The DWP will reassess your LCW or LCWRA if you start work otherwise, two or three years after your last assessment.

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