“Late effects” and sickness assessments

Tuesday 07 August 2018

A look at what happens if the exemptions from the full Work Capability Assessment don’t or no longer apply. Perhaps there are no active treatment plans ahead or you have recovered from the immediate side effects? Or in some cases if “special rules” no longer apply. What’s involved in undergoing the full Work Capability Assessment for ESA and UC with limited capability) ?


Welcome to the fourth in a series of five about benefits while off sick from work: 

  • In Part 1, I looked at the changing benefits and how they fit into the system and looked at Statutory Sick Pay in detail 
  • In Part 2, I looked at Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit (with limited capability) and how most cancer patients are exempt from the full assessment  
  • In Part 3, we looked at easing back into work during recovery: work you can do while on ESA, taking the next step with increased hours and support from Working Tax Credit and how the joined-up approach of Universal Credit goes a bit strange. 

Now your cancer journey could take you through to recovery and back into work while remaining being exempt from the full Work Capability Assessment all the way through. This most commonly might be because you are “awaiting, receiving or recovering from” cancer treatments. For others, their cancer is more advanced, and treatment may not be able to offer cure and recovery, but combined with care aims to give more or better-quality time; in which case the special rules will bypass the test even more completely. 

But what happens if recovery is happening , but that while you may be over the main side effects of the treatments, you still have some ongoing “late effects from the cancer, its surgeries and treatments or problems from previous health conditions which may have been aggravated by the last few months and kind ministrations? 

Or you are adapting and facing difficulties from the impact of life saving - but life changing - surgery - such as living with stomas, PEG/RIG feeds, weaknesses and lymphoedema etc.?  

Or perhaps you are having a difficult time with long term treatments like tamoxifen or Herceptin which don't technically come under the cancer treatments that give you exemption, although sometimes they will count them?

In all these situations then, you may still need the financial support offered by ESA and/or Universal Credit (on limited capability grounds, but no longer be exempted from the full Work Capability Assessment. So, this time, I am delving a little deeper into the full test - and how to survive it

How then does the switch from being "treated as" passing the test to having to undergo the full assessment work and what’s involved in the full fat version of the  of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) 

We pick up the numbering from last time

10  Have you actually recovered from your treatment yet?

This is the first of many grey areas in this blog. 

The DWP will write to you to if they feel that you probably have had time to recover from treatment  to no longer be automatically treated as passing the Work Capability Assessment. However,  this may be based on now out of date best guestimates; your treatment plans may have changed, with further treatments they were unaware or those  side effects for you may have been  more severe or more protracted.

It’s a medical judgement really, so a letter from your GP or consultant may be all that’s needed to put off the assessment until recovery is more complete and you are safely back in work. That said ESA certainly tend to err on the side of caution and leave things for up to a year before exploring this.  It remains to be seen whether Universal Credit will apply the same approach to the identical provisions. 

There is a difference between the immediate side effects of the treatment and the physical and emotional “late effects” as you get to grips with some longer lasting physical and emotional limitations that surgeries and treatments may have left you with. The exemption then is more for immediate side effects that typically may start to fade away once say chemo has cleared your system entirely after 3 months. But sometimes a late effect is a side effect that keeps going a bit longer - such as chronic fatigue. 

Another grey area is around follow on treatments such as tamoxifen and herceptin. It can be worth mentioning these ongoing treatments whether or not they would allow te exemption to continue. Oral chemotherapy is allowed but only in discrete sessions of 6 months - ie these are as daunting as traditional infusions just without the needles. Thus Tamoxifen for 5 years - which is a form of chemo - and Herceptin which isn't but can have serious effects don't technically allow an exemption but sometimes ESA informally let them count. 

But receiving these or indedd any other treatments or therapies are certainly good background causes to help explain why you may be having details under the full assessment, so certainly should be listed anyway 

11. Completing the  ESA50 / UC50 questionnaire in full

If you have recovered from the treatment itself, but are not yet ready to go back into work or get into full time job seeking, then you can still stay on ESA – or be treated as having limited capability within UC- but now you face the full Work Capability Assessment. 

This starts with the ESA50 / UC50 self-assessment questionnaire, example of which you can see in the links below. The forms are essentially the same as is the test they refer to. Sometimes though they don't bother to send out the form, whether by mistake or because you happened to fillout the full form before. The point is that things may well have changed considerably so descriptions on an old form might be well out of date and be correctly ignored, while not getting a form at all may feel like a relief but denies you an opportunity to have your say 

Now you may remember my mentioning such a form in Part 2 of this series and also, perhaps of actually seeing one earlier in your cancer journey. The difference this time, is that you can no longer ignore those 18 big blank boxes asking about how your illness affects you in each of the test’s “functional areas”. Previously, you may just have needed to tell them about your cancer treatment plans, and leave the rest blank, but this time you really need to fill the whole form in in as much detail as you can. Those big boxes can no longer be ignored.

Each of these questions relates to an activity: 

  • Section 1 contains physical and sensory questions such as moving around, reaching, standing, sitting etc
  • Section 2 relates to the mental health, cognitive and emotional side of things: coping with change, motivation engaging with others etc. 

For each question there is a mix of tick boxes and a big blank box to describe your difficulties in that area. Your answers are scored against a grid of descriptors - these are statements describing different levels of difficulties under each of these activities (or "functional areas" as they are officially called).

11.1. Having a look at the points system first

While the tick box questions give you an idea of the goalposts they don't reveal all so it's well worth looking at the full list, which you can see here

As you can see, within each of the functional areas there are a number of statements of varying degrees of difficulty with that task, each scoring either 15, 9, 6 or 0 points. The target is to reach a total of 15 points to be accepted as having “limited capability for work”  This will allow you to stay on ESA or be treated as having “limited capability” within UC

You will also see a separate list of more severe limitations  If any one of those applies then you would also have “limited capability for work related activity” This would then put you into the ESA Support Group and/or the UC “limited capability for work related activity” group. That means a higher amount, no time limit for contribution-based claims  and no requirement to engage in any work related activity. 

The form mainly covers the first 15 points test, but do draw attention – in the any other information box – to any of those support/LCWRA group descriptors that you feel apply.

You by no means need to score points under each area. It is absolutely right to leave blanks where you have no difficulty – but only after considering how you manage these tasks “ “reliably” see below. You by no means have to score something in each area , nor do you need to score 15 points in any one area, although doing so often means you also meet one of the support/LCWRA descriptors at the same time. 

Your 15 points might come from 15 in one area, 6 and 9 points from two areas or 3 lots of six points from 3. any of the 15 pointers . Rather you need to score a total of 15 points across all 17 of the “functional areas/ questions to pass the test. So, it may be a single 15 pointer in one activity, a 9 and a 6 from  two activities or three lots of 6 points from 3 areas. It is worth detailing any relevant difficulties in areas where you have some but not enough where you can see 6 points as they add to their appreciation of the  extent of difficulties overall and may support scoring points in a similar area. 

It can be worth then going through the points list and ticking off those statements you think might apply if you think about your ability to manage that area repeatedly and reliably. That might get you in the points mood before you start filling in the boxes 

And coming back after and seeing what you might score yourself on what you have put down, as your view and thoughts might develop as you go through the form. Not all difficulties you describe on the form will necessarily be accepted, so don't stop when you think you get to 15 points, but do complete the form to give you as full a picture and score and to have some points in reserve. 

11.2 Tackling the ESA 50 / UC 50 form itself 

Without simply repeating the descriptors of the points system, it can then be handy to bear it in mind as the “goalposts” against which your potential points might be scored. You want to explain things in a way that makes it easy for them to link it to a point score where appropriate or that may back up and reinforce scores elsewhere.

But otherwise the key thing is explaining the sort of difficulties you have or limitations you experience, in your own words and authentic style. Forget about spelling, grammar or adopting a formal or third party tone – do it in your own way, reluctantly admitting to difficulties rather than over doing it.

You might want to do it in rough and get it how you want before writing it in the boxes. While please don’t feel intimidated by an open box, neither should you feel constrained by the size of the box and/or of your writing. You can add in further information either in the Any further information box or by stapling further sheets at the back, as long as you remember to link paragraphs on those sheets to the particular question. Indeed, if you prefer to type the whole thing you could just put please refer to attached sheets in each box where you want to put anything. 

Don’t then be frightened to adapt the form to give you the best answers You will notice that it doesn’t follow the test in law exactly anyway. So, if the tick boxes often relating to how much of the time you have difficulties – don’t quite cover it put your own preferred one liner instead. 

It can feel a bit repetitive, as the same underlying problem – e.g. chronic fatigue, restrictions from surgery, low mood may be behind each limitation you experience. But don’t assume the person at the other end has the life experience, disability understanding or time to join the dots or make what might seem obvious links. For example, you might expect them to understand that given your current health issues that you are bound to struggle with x, or that given the problems you have explained for x then of course you would have difficulties with y. Think of it as explaining it to a moderately intelligent child, when you may have to teach them gently and help them join the dots…

11.3 Well I sort of manage…do I just tick no problem? Reliability and repeatability

Absolutely not ! It is not just a simple “can you manage on your own or can’t you”, but whether you can do so safely, repeatedly and reliably.  

Sort of managing the task described eventually, somehow, if you pick your best moments, take your time and try to ignore any pain, or fatigue, while using cunning work arounds and not mentioning the need for a little lie down in a darkened room afterwards – is not the point. DWP research in the early days of such questionnaires,  showed that the overwhelming majority of claimants underscored themselves – “oh I manage that …” they'd say tick “No problem with …” and move on to the next question and low or no points score. 

In practise, you might manage that task eventually, but only  with pain, fatigue, nausea, breathlessness or dizziness. It may take you a long time to complete it and you may need to take time out to recover after. You may need some help or support, even for just a part of the task. You might not be able to repeat the task with reasonable regularity.

So “no problem with ” only really applies if you manage the task without any of these difficulties. If not then you while you should be proud of how you do get there eventually, you should explain the difficulties and efforts involved. 

It’s one thing getting there in your own time and recovering gently at home, but might it feel rather different in the case of a work situation. If say you had problems walking there might be all the difference in the world between gearing up to walking down the road or garden and crossing the office to talk to a work colleague, do some photocopying or get some stationary. 

So, the key thing then is to explain any difficulties you have even if you proudly and independently get there eventually under your own steam. They may not always agree and may not accept award all the points that your self-assessment suggests, but you do no deed to tell them in detail about the difficulties you experience – with examples – to give them the best chance to do the right thing. 

And don't forget the psychological impacts of a cancer journey - "chemo fog" may have faded off but some concentration issues can persist, and it may only be now, as all the excitement of just getting through the treatment dies down, that you get a chance to start to make sense of what you have been through. There is growing research into the emotional and mental health effects and depression can be quite common. Or you may be left with elements of anxiety or compulsive behaviours, from all that monitoring and trying to wrest back a sense of control . Or your confidence may have taken a big knock and social activities become something you avoid.

It can be easier to reluctantly admit to physical ones - as you can "blame" that on say the surgical changes etc - than it does to accept the mental health ones – as these can feel like a weakness of not coping, a guilt at not being all bouncing after completing the treatment, while the difficulties can go  goes to the heart of yourself as a person. But the impacts can be just as - -if not more – limiting than the easier to describe and admit to physical ones. 

When you're done, see which descriptors you think apply and what your total score is. If it comes to less than 15, do think again. I don't mean invent difficulties you don't have, but might you have missed something out that is relevant?

You have 4 weeks to return your ESA50 / UC50- but if you need more time to get the support you need to complete it, ring and ask. If you don't return the ESA50 in time, then there is a risk that the ESA claim will stop or the limited capability within UC end . However, this should not happen if they are aware of any mental health or cognitive difficulties. 

It is worth keeping a copy of your ESA 50 or UC 50 or some notes as to the difficulties you listed/ descriptors you felt applied.

12.  What happens next? Of WCA "medicals" and face to face assessments 

Your returned and completed ESA50 / UC50 will be looked over by a Health Professional, along with any supporting evidence you send in with it - or that they may ask for.

But don’t assume they necessarily ask your GP or consultant. It may well be worth asking them or your CNS for support off your own bat. The ideal letter need not be long or impassioned, but relates to the expected sorts of difficulties in your current condition, particularly if these include a passing nod to the descriptors in your case. 

It may be that your ESA50 / UC50 when viewed in the light of medical history and with supporting evidence whether from the clinical team or someone who knows you, may be all that's needed for you to be assessed "on the papers". Originally, the emphasis was on seeing most people, but as backlogs stack up in the medical appointments system such paper decisions are more common as common sense puts a premium on not sending people to medicals who don't  need to be seen.

12.1 Getting a medical 

If you are on the list for a medical about 95% of people will - it could be some time at the moment. Cases are supposed to be with Maximus, the private company contracted to provide the Health Assessment Service  - for 35 days , but it can take considerably longer. Usually thie assessment will be at a local assessment centre or other suitable premises. 

You can ask for the Health Professional to be of the same gender, for permission to record the session, for an interpreter or for a home visit. That last will require GP or another health professional explaining why it would be v difficult or inadvisable for you to attend the medical 

If you do get asked to attend a face to face assessment,  then you must do so, or the claim will stop. If you can't make that appointment for a good reason, then the appointment could be changed. If something prevents you on the day, do let them know if possible; or as soon after. Otherwise your claim will go back to the DWP who may stop the claim. 

You can take someone with you for support and they can come in with you though it's you the Health Professional will want to talk to. That Health Professional may be a doctor, a nurse, a physio or an occupational therapist. They will not be matched to your difficulties and so may not have the same in depth awareness as others health professionals you may see in more usual health consultations. 

The interview will basically involve questions about a typical day using relevant descriptors and a brief physical examination.  Time-pressed Health Professionals are looking to select one from a drop down list on their computer screens in a “mouse driven” task. They may not always be empathetic or aware of the possible difficulties you have nor the qualifications you may put on your ability to do things.

Do not confuse the medical with that unwritten game you might play with your GP. You know the one: "How are you?" they say "Fine, managing OK, mustn’t grumble" you say politely, but all the while expecting them to gently probe a bit deeper and see through your facade of stoic dignity, to the real difficulties and symptoms. An ESA medical is not a diagnostic nor forensic discovery of the problem, but an evidence gathering one - say " I suppose I manage" and they will accept that and move on. In fact, if in a hurry you may actually feel led /pushed into neat yes/no answers to help them tick the boxes.   

The Health Professional will use your replies, the medical and  their observations of you - how you get up from the waiting room chair, shake hands, walk to the consulting room, remove your jacket etc. 

It is then worth re-reading your notes and your copy of the ESA/UC 50 beforehand and being ready to explain to the Health Professionals all the difficulties you have with the questions they ask you. These are not that different to those on the form and are based on that same points list of “descriptors” in the regulations. . 

12.2 Difficulties with medicals

Inevitably, ESA medicals can end up as a snapshot taken by someone who does not know you. They will be mainly going on your answers, their observations and any brief physical examination.

To be fair to them they may not know if your anxiety meant you needed a lot of support to be up ready and dressed respectably, when on a normal day you might not bother. Nor if you have taken extra painkillers or other adaptions to get you through, while  knowing that  you will be done for as far as the rest of the day goes. So, make sure you tell them.

They may be looking for quick yes/no answers and struggle with the shades of grey when you can eventually manage something but only with prompting, a helping hand or with pain, discomfort and difficulty. 

They may not consider variability or repeatability fully if you appear to be managing during your session.

Now a good empathetic Health Professional given enough time may well dig deeper suspecting there may than meets the eye. And I have had positive feedback from people meeting lovely professionals and feeling they got a fair hearing and outcome.

Research by the Centre for Welfare Reform suggests that most of their respondents were unhappy with the test: 80% of respondents felt the Health Professional didn’t listen to them, 90% gave the process less than 5 out of 10 and 90% felt that it had harmed their health, 29% severely so.

There are things you can do though: put yourself in their shoes and understand the limitations of the process, Only say “Yes I manage…”  if you can without the difficulties above otherwise it’s a "Not without help …” or “Yes, BUT...". Take someone with you and try to be calm, concise but full in your answers. It's well worth taking a look at your copy of your ESA 50 or any notes you made  beforehand; essentially the questions will be based on the descriptors.

It can be easier said than done, I know. Things can go wrong, as this moving short film from Mind  shows - you can see it here.

But hopefully you will feel more able with support and with good luck of the draw in getting a skilled and empathetic Health Professional to have a much more useful session leading to a fair and reliable assessment. Try to think of them less with the awe and authority you confer on your consultant , and more as a well-meaning reasonably intelligent child who needs a patient explanation of the realities to help join the dots.

If you feel unhappy with proceedings, it's well worth making notes as soon as you can of aspects where you felt rushed, misunderstood or unable to explain your full difficulties and exactly how long the assessment lasted. These may be handy if you need to question their report in the future. 

You can ask for the session to be recorded, if you do so in advance and provide say a double cassette or cd recorder that is capable of recording two physical copies of the recording at the same time, so that you each have one at the end. The barrier seems to lie more at the DWP end of thing than with the assessors, although the DWP are having a rethink. In the end it protects both parties – you from a rushed and harassed assessment and the Health Professional from misunderstandings and false allegations.

12.3 The “exceptional circumstances” safety net

The WCA recognises its own limitations in relying on a grid of 17 areas and the descriptors attached to them. The aim was that most health conditions that limited work capability could score points somewhere, even if not all the difficulties each health condition presents are necessarily present on that grid.

However, if your difficulties don't fit neatly but the DWP still recognise that there would be "a serious risk to your health or others around you if you were not treated as having limited capability" , then they can treat you as passing the test. The outcome might be to place you in either of the ESA groups. 

It is often used at appeals when the tribunal sees that no way is someone fit for work but cannot find the fit to the points that would achieve that. This safety net is different from other ways of being treated as passing the test - such as awaiting, receiving or recovering from cancer treatments - in that it comes in at the end of a full Work Capability Assessment, rather than before it applies

So, there may still be a way in to staying on ESA even if you and your advisor can’t find the necessary points – or convince the DWP or a tribunal that you do score. These exceptional circumstances can place you in either of the two limited capability groups within ESA and UC (for limited capability” .

13 Decisions, Decisions and how to challenge them

The actual decision is made by a Decision Maker back at the DWP. They will tend to rely most on the recommendations of the report, so helping the assessor to get that right is important, but equally so should be a well filled in ESA/ UC50 and relevant supporting evidence.

13.1 A two part decision

There are two scores to come out of the Work Capability Assessment:

  1. whether you score 15 points or more necessary to stay on ESA or on UC with limited capability 
  2. If so which of the two groups – ESA work related activity/ UC LCW group or the ESA Support/UC LCWRA  – you will be allocated to .

The chances are that while being treated as passing the test through cancer treatments you will have been placed in the ESA Support/ UC LCWRA Group. That one is a judgement call by Health Professionals.  

Under the full test allocation to the Support Group depends on you meeting one of the separate list of Support Group descriptors which you can see here. These include:

  • some of the “15 pointer” descriptors from the main test,
  • others which are similar but slightly tighter,
  • and a couple that don’t feature at all in the main test related to feeding and drinking. 

Which is why there is a separate page (Section 3) on the ESA/UC50 to find out more about any difficulties you may have in this area.

To get into the Support Group you need to pass both the main test (by scoring 15 points or more) to show that you have "limited capability for work' and also meet one of the separate support group descriptors. In the jargon if you do,  you will be seen as also having “limited capability for work related activity”. Failing that, the other way in might be because of the safety net above.

So, the eventual outcome of the decision could be 

  • that you continue on ESA or to have limited capability within UC, but it might mean switching from your current ESA Support /UC LCWRA group to the ESA work Related Activity/UC LCW group instead.  And as we saw in Part 2 there are several advantages to staying in the ESA Support/ UC LCWRA Group if you can.
  • Or the decision may be that you no longer have sufficient "limited capability” to remain on ESA or be counted as having “limited capability within UC. This is by no means the same as having somehow been found out as  “fit for work” all along, as implied by careless media reports and politicians who should know better. Rather it is that you are classed as not having sufficiently limited capability – under the toughest test amongst developed nations -  to be excused from job seeking. That job seeking though is expected to come with additional support offered and allowances made for the impacts of real health limitations. Crucially there is no implication of fraud at all in such an outcome:  the official estimates for that are some of the lowest in the system at under 0.5%. 

13.2 Challenging decisions that you disagree with  

If you disagree with either the group that you have been placed in or a decision that you are no longer counted as having limited capability at all, then do get advice about how to go about challenging that decision. Do talk to an advisor at one of our Maggie’s Centres. Now while it may well be that the decision is broadly correct and help and advice may be about how to ensure appropriate allowances are made in your future job seeking. Or too often it may be that circumstances, impatience and tick boxing has failed to reflect your difficulties and an appeal stands a very high chance of success.

The success rates at appeal are very high especially when represented, so it is well worth getting advice before taking no for an answer.

13.3 What are my chances under the WCA?

It is of course an individual decision based on your assessment and the difficulties you are experiencing, rather than having a cancer or any other diagnosis. 

There are very different outcomes on average between an initial claim for ESA and a re-assessment. An initial claim may cover people who have shorter term illnesses that may be improving as they get to assessment, while a large number may have got better and come off benefit in that time. 

The latest official reports show that for those going through an initial WCA: 

  • 38% are found fit for work”
  • 41% go into the Support group 
  • 20% go into the Work related activity group 

For ESA re-assessments the figures are

  • 17% found fit for work
  • 64% in the Support Group and 
  • 19% in the Work related activity group.

If you like stats you can see the latest full report in the links page  here.

For those with cancer though the re-assessment may be harder on average than the initial assessment. First time round you may have been effectively passported through straight into the ESA Support/LCWRA group. But now you not only have to work harder to go through the full assessment, but you are subject to the vagaries of the assessment system , where a less than full form or a poorly conducted medical can lead to an unfair outcome.

It remains though, an individual assessment and decision based that should be based on the difficulties you experience from all of any health conditions. It doesn't always work out that way, but I hope the suggestions in this blog help give you a better chance of getting your difficulties across and for the process to go smoothly to the right result in your case. 

But do get advice if not - the system is far from perfect and too many wrong decisions are made.as evidenced by the ridiculously high success rate at appeal. I would strongly urge you to consider not taking “No” for an answer.

13,4 How to challenge an adverse "limited capability" decision

The success rate at appeals overall is currently a rather too high success rate of 61%. Critics have wondered whether a more concerned DWP might take that as a suggestion that there might not need to be a more critical look at what’s going wrong with assessments. It would , to some, appear that the DWP are happy to take such a high failure rate on the chin given their success in discouraging people from getting that far. 

There is a two stage process:

  • First you have to ask the DWP to think again - in the form of a Mandatory Reconsideration - some 8% of people undergoing the WCA do so,  whether they are part of the 40% found fit for work or are in the WRA Group and feel they ought to be in the support group.  Overall the DWP only revise their decision in 13% of cases , though it is much more 50-50 on decisions about which group you should be in 
  • Then it’s on to an independent appeal where only 21% of people having an MR go on to lodge an independent appeal i.e. just 2% of those undergoing a WCA . But once there the chances of success are a high 61% 

Adding in the additional Mandatory Reconsideration process – which was already there informally anyway – does present an extra challenge and barriers. You need to make sure you apply for it in the correct way, do it within 28 days and then at the end of those 4 to 6 weeks when they ring you up to resist the temptation to accept their kind explanation and not take up the offer of registering a claim for JSA or an appointment with your UC work coach for you. resist the explanation of why nothing changes and the kind offer to take a claim for JSA instead at the end of those 4 to 6 weeks.

It is not as daunting as it first sounds to go through these steps so do at least explore what’s involved with a Benefits Adviser at your nearest Maggie’s Centre. Or indeed for help with completing those ESA50 / UC 50 forms. Find your nearest Meggie’s Centre here 

Next time: 

In the next and final episode of this series, I will: 

  • follow on to look at what is involved if the e outcome of your WCA is that you are you are re-allocated from a current place in the ESA Support / UC LCWRA group over to the ESA Work Related Activity / UC LCW group. This may well be the correct decision as you slowly recover, but what exactly is involved?
  • And I will also take a look at the curious case of why it can be still worth keeping your claim going even when you don’t have the national insurance contributions for Contributory / “New Style” ESA and perhaps too much income / savings – e.g. from a partners earnings or joint savings – for Income-related ESA/ Universal Credit.
  • in the 2014 original of this blog we also took an early look at some of the key differences in the process under Universal Credit - the asessment is exactly the same but UC is designed to do things rather differently and can be more different - and strange again - in practise. It may deserve a blog of its very own. 

Until then please don't have WCA nightmares - you may not have to go through the WCA at all, if you have been given sufficient time to recover from your exemption due to cancer treatments to feel ready to ease back into work or start looking for work. . But if you do, there's a lot you - and an Advisor -  can do , both to help them get it right first time or to patiently sort them out if they need more than one go at getting it right…

Useful links and further reading 

External links

  • You can see the list of activities for the 15 point Limited Capability for Work Test here
  • And the list of individual descriptors - one of which must apply - for "limited capability for work-related activity - here
  • You can see/ download an ESA 50 form and type directly into it -here
  • You can do the same for the almost identical UC 50 form if you are only claiming UC -  here

Several online walk throughs are available to help you fill in these almost identical forms from different disability groups, but a couple of general run throughs :    

  • see suggestions for each question from Citizens Advice - here
  • see a completed and annotated example of a an earlier version of the form published by The National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers site - here  

Other blogs in this series

  • Benefits when off sick (1) : Benefits for sickness in general, where they fit in the benefits system and other help . Statutory Sick Pay in particular - here
  • Benefits when off sick (2):  Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit (for limited capbility) and ways in for people with cancer - here
  • Benefits when off sick (3):  Easing back into work while on benefits for sickness - here
  • Benefits when off sick (5):  Work Related activity and keeping a "credits only" claim going - here

Other relevant blogs and mini-series you may find useful:

  • Benefits and Cancer – a useful overview and how sickness benefits fit in to the grand scheme of the benefits system and getting your full entitlement when affected by cancer – starting here
  • Benefits in Pension Age – focussing on the different benefits world after 65-ish and additional help for people affected by cancer – starting here
  • Disability Benefits – starting with AA, DLA, PIP and Cancer - here
  • Means tested benefits – a look at the traditional “legacy” means tested benefit which remain very important until March 2023 - starting here
  • Universal Credit -  introducing the new replacement for the 6 main means tested benefits for those of working age. UC aims to do things in a very different way from both the benefits it replaces and any other benefit - starting here

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