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Last updated:
16/05/2022

Work Capability Assessment decisions and groups explained

  1. What is the Work Capability Assessment?
  2. How do I fill in the Capability for Work health questionnaire?
  3. Completing the Health Questionnaire with a mental health condition
  4. Will I have to go for a medical assessment?
  5. What happens after the Work Capability Assessment?
  6. Work Capability Assessment decisions and groups explained
  7. Sample letter

The work capability assessment process can be complex and difficult to understand. Below, we explain:

  • What happens in each group and
  • How it affects your Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit (UC).

Limited Capability for Work group (LCW)

What does this mean?

Your mental health condition means you cannot work, but the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) believe you may be able to prepare for work at some point in the future.

How much do I receive?

Universal Credit (UC)

  • The LCW element of UC is £132.89 per week for 2022-2023

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

  • The LCW element of ESA is £30.60 per week for 2022-2023
  • Remember that claimants on ESA are gradually being migrated over to UC so what you get depends on your situation and other benefits you might already be receiving
  • You may be able to claim ‘New Style’ ESA with or instead of UC, depending on your National Insurance (NI) record
  • You are automatically treated as having LCW if you are transferring to UC from ESA. Read more about ESA and what you can get here.

TIP - UC from ESA transfer rule

The DWP sometimes ignore the UC from ESA transfer rule and might insist you do another Work Capability Assessment (WCA). If you are transferring from ESA to UC, point out the rule and:

  • Insist that you should automatically be treated as having limited capability for work (LCW).
  • Challenge the DWP decision on your UC entitlement if you need to.
  • If you were getting the support component in your ESA, the LCWRA support element should be included in your UC.
  • If you were getting the work-related activity component in your ESA, the LCW element should be included in your UC.

Speak to a Welfare and Benefits Adviser for more help with this.

What do I have to do if I am placed in the limited capability for work (LCW) group?

If you are placed into the LCW group, you will be asked to perform some work-related activities. Work-related activities can include:

  • Attending work-focused interviews with a job coach. They might ask:
    - What stops you from getting back into work
    - How you could deal with things that stop you from being able to work
    - The type of work you might like to do in the future
  • Undertaking work-focused training that might help you get a job in the future. This might include:
    - Going to training sessions to boost your maths or writing skills
    - Confidence building sessions with a coach or trainer
    - Learning how to write a CV with help from a coach or trainer
    - Trying new activities to support your mental health condition

Talking about your mental health

Always tell your job coach how your mental health affects your ability to do things on a day-to-day basis. For example :

  • You find it difficult to take a bus or a train by yourself
    Your anxiety makes it hard for you to get out of bed some days

Talk about all the things your mental health prevents you from doing, even if you think they are small. If you are unsure, you can write down a list of things you want to say to the job coach before you attend a work-focused interview. You can ask someone who knows you and your mental health condition to help you with this. This could be:

  • A friend or partner
  • Relative
  • Mental Health support worker
  • Carer
  • Social worker

Whenever you undertake a work-focused interview with a job coach, they should give you an action plan. The action plan explains what you have agreed to do, but it must take the condition of your mental health into account.

Joint claims: Do I get extra money if my partner also has limited capability for work (LCW)?

You cannot get extra money if you are making a joint claim. If you and your partner both have LCW or LCWRA, only one of you will receive that element in your benefits.

Limited Capability for Work and Work-related Activity (LCWRA)

What does this mean?

Your mental health condition prevents you from working and the DWP believe you cannot prepare for work in the future. This group is also known as the support group.

How much do I receive?

Universal Credit (UC)

The LCWRA element of UC is £354.28 per week for 2022-23.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

You will automatically receive the £354.28 LCWRA element of UC if you are already in an ESA support group and there has been no break between your ESA claim and your UC claim. Remember to point out the transfer rule if the DWP are trying to make you do another Work Capability Assessment (WCA).

What do I have to do if I am placed in the LCWRA group?

You will not be expected to work or perform any work-related activity. You will not be expected to attend work-focused interviews or do other activities that help you find work.

Fit for Work Group

The DWP calls this ‘not having limited capability for work or work-related activity. If you are placed into this group, it means the DWP believe you are fit for work and can look for a job. If you applied for ESA or the work element of UC, these benefits will be stopped.

If you disagree with the DWP’s decision, you can challenge it. Learn how to challenge a WCA decision here. You should also seek advice from a Welfare and Benefits adviser.

You may still be able to apply for other benefits. Learn more about other benefits here.

Will I have to do another WCA in the future?

If you are placed in the LCW or LCWRA group, the DWP may ask you to complete another WCA in the future. This can happen when your benefit claim is renewed. The DWP usually decide what the assessment period is in your decision letter.

You might have to do a WCA every 1-3 years depending on the information you provided in your original WCA.

You do not have to do another WCA if:

  • Your mental health condition or illness is severe and
  • You are unlikely to ever be able to work because of this condition

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Within this subject

  1. What is the Work Capability Assessment?
  2. How do I fill in the Capability for Work health questionnaire?
  3. Completing the Health Questionnaire with a mental health condition
  4. Will I have to go for a medical assessment?
  5. What happens after the Work Capability Assessment?
  6. Work Capability Assessment decisions and groups explained
  7. Sample letter
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