What is the Work Capability Assessment?
The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is a test issued by the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP). The WCA helps the DWP decide whether:
- You have ‘limited capability for work’ (LCW)
- You have ‘limited capability for work-related activity (LCWRA)
What is limited capability for work (LCW)?
This means your physical or mental health condition makes it hard for you to do certain types of work or makes you unable to work. You might get some benefits.
What is limited capability for work-related activity (LCWRA)?
This means your physical or mental health condition is so severe that you cannot reasonably be expected to work, and you are not expected to do any work-related activity. Work-related activity includes attending interviews at the Jobcentre Plus office, applying for jobs, or retraining.
When do I have to take the WCA?
You will be asked to take the WCA when you receive or apply for:
- Employment and Support Allowance (New Style ESA).
- Universal Credit (UC) – in certain cases only (eg. medical grounds).
If your mental health makes you too ill to work, the DWP will check that you are not well enough to work. They will ask for a fit note from your doctor that covers at least 13 weeks. They will then assume you have ‘limited capability for work’ and will ask you to complete the WCA to check this.
The WCA helps the DWP decide:
- Whether you get extra amounts of UC or ESA.
- Whether you get National Insurance (NI) credits based on LCW.
- Whether you can still get the work-related activity component of Housing Benefit (HB) if you are an existing HB claimant - this decision is made by your Local Authority and can also apply to any Council Tax Support (CTS) component of HB
If you are making a new claim for Housing Benefit (HB), you will not receive the work-related component.
What happens if I am asked to complete a WCA?
The DWP will ask you to fill in a Capability for Work questionnaire. You will get a different form for each benefit you claim:
- Universal Credit (UC) - UC50 form
- Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) – ESA50 form
Read your form carefully and answer in as much detail as possible. You can ask a carer, friend, relative, or mental health support worker to help you.
The DWP award points for every part of the Capability for Work questionnaire. To score points you must have a health condition that means you cannot work and cannot do work-related activities. You must score 15 points or more across the Capability for Work questionnaire to show that you have LCW. The activities cover both physical and mental health and the points from both can be combined.
If you show that not getting LCW will make your physical or mental health condition worse, then you will automatically be classed as having LCW without scoring 15 points.
You can also still get points if you can carry out work-related activity and you may still be able to get LCW if you can do some work.
To pass the WCA, your physical and/or mental health condition needs to affect you 50% of the time. You will be assessed on whether you can carry out certain activities within a reasonable amount of time.
Find out how to complete the Capability for Work questionnaire and how to score points in the next section.