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Last updated:
15/11/2017

Will I need a Work Capability Assessment to claim benefits?

What is the Work Capability Assessment?

  1. Overview
  2. What is the Work Capability Assessment?
  3. How do I fill in the health questionnaire?
  4. Will I have to go for a medical assessment?
  5. What happens next?
  6. What is the support group or the limited capability for work-related activity element?
  7. What is the work-related activity group (WRAG)?
  8. Health questionnaire descriptors
  9. Assessment for limited capability for work-related activity
  10. Next steps

If you are claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) – or in some areas, Universal Credit (UC) – as a result of mental health, the Social Security Agency (SSA) has to check that you are not well enough to work and they call this having ‘limited capability for work’. If you have limited capability for work, you can get ESA or UC with a limited capability for work element (you can only get UC if it has been rolled out in your area. If it hasn’t, you will apply for ESA).

If you have limited capability for work, you can get ESA or UC with a limited capability for work element.

In this section we refer to ESA, but the same rules apply to UC with a limited capability for work element.

The test the SSA uses to decide if you have limited capability for work is called the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). Sometimes the SSA do not have to check if you have limited capability for work, if you are in hospital, for example.

They will usually send you a form with questions about your health – this is the ESA50 (or UC50 in Universal Credit) form, or the Capability for Work questionnaire. In this section we will refer to this as ‘the health questionnaire’. You can find out more information about this form in the How do I fill in the health questionnaire section.

When you have completed the form, most people will have to go to a medical assessment.

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Within this subject

  1. Overview
  2. What is the Work Capability Assessment?
  3. How do I fill in the health questionnaire?
  4. Will I have to go for a medical assessment?
  5. What happens next?
  6. What is the support group or the limited capability for work-related activity element?
  7. What is the work-related activity group (WRAG)?
  8. Health questionnaire descriptors
  9. Assessment for limited capability for work-related activity
  10. Next steps
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