If you can’t work because of sickness or disability you might have to claim Universal Credit. This page tells you more about claiming it, the work capability assessment and how other sickness and disability benefits are affected by Universal Credit.
Can I claim Universal Credit if I’m sick or disabled?
If you can’t work – or you can only work limited hours – because of sickness or disability and need to claim benefits, you may be able to claim Universal Credit. This also applies if you can’t work because you, or a child you are caring for, are sick, self-isolating or shielding as a result of coronavirus.
You’ll be assessed (although there are currently no face-to-face assessments due to coronavirus) to see how your disability or illness affects your ability to work.
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You may also be able to claim additional elements of Universal Credit to help with other costs, such as rent, caring or bringing up children.
If you’re married, in a civil partnership or are living with your partner, you will have to make a joint claim for Universal Credit.
Your Universal Credit claim will depend on your household income and savings. If you have savings over £16,000 you won’t be eligible.
Claiming Universal Credit when you’re sick or disabled
If you have to stay at home because of coronavirus, you won’t have to provide a fit note.
If you’re making a new claim for Universal Credit, use the online application to explain how your condition makes it hard for you to work or find work.
If you’re already getting Universal Credit, tell your work coach or add it to your online journal.
Get a fit note from your GP and add it to your claim/online account. (This isn’t needed if you can’t work because of coronavirus.)
Find out more about getting a fit note for your Universal Credit claim – Citizens Advice website.
In some cases, you won’t need to prove that you have limited capability for work. For example, if you have:
- any terminal illness
- some pregnancy-related conditions
- some cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy
Otherwise, you’ll need to complete form UC50.
Help to Claim
If you want help with the form or any other aspect of a new claim, Citizens Advice has a dedicated service to help you. Call 0800 144 8444 in England or 0800 024 1220 in Wales.
For more information and to find your local Citizens Advice on their website
In Scotland, call 0800 023 2581, via webchat on the Citizens Advice website or contact your local bureau directly during their usual business hours.
Once you’ve put in your new claim, or told your work coach about your condition, you’ll be sent form UC50 to complete.
You must fill it in and send it to the Health Assessment Advisory Service within four weeks.
Work capability assessments
After you return your form, you may be asked to attend a work capability assessment.
The assessment will decide which of the following categories you are in:
- you are fit for work
- you have limited capability for work - which means that although you may be unable to look for work now, you might have to do some regular tasks to prepare for work
- you have limited capability for work and work-related activity - which means that you won’t be asked to look for work or prepare for work
Getting a decision from the DWP
Save the real DWP number in your phone book
The DWP used to call from a withheld number, but now it will show on your incoming calls as 0800 023 2635.
Save this number in your phone’s address book so you remember to answer the call.
After your assessment, the DWP will write to you with their decision. You won’t get any extra money while you’re waiting for the decision.
In the meantime, your work coach should take your condition into account when they tell you what you need to do to look for or prepare for work.
If you’re found fit for work
If you’re found fit for work, you’ll be expected to look for work or increase your earnings. You won’t get any extra money with your claim.
You can ask the DWP to reconsider their decision if you don’t agree.
If you have limited capability for work
This means you won’t have to work, but you might need to do some work-related activities. You won’t get any extra money with your claim (unless your claim is from before April 2017).
This means you won’t have to work or do anything to prepare for work.
You will also get an extra £341.92 per month.
Can I claim Universal Credit if I’m working?
Make the most of your Universal Credit payment with personalised help from our Money Manager tool.
You can claim Universal Credit if you’re working.
Once you’ve been assessed as having limited capability for work (explained above) you qualify for what’s known as the ‘work allowance’. This means you can earn a certain amount before your Universal Credit payments are affected.
Monthly work allowances are:
- £292 if your Universal Credit includes housing support
- £512 if you do not receive housing support.
If you earn more than the work allowance, your Universal Credit payments will gradually reduce as your pay increases.
Your Universal Credit payment will go down by 63p for every £1 you earn above your work allowance.
How does Universal Credit affect PIP and DLA?
If you’re getting Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA), it will continue to be paid along with your Universal Credit payment.
You get these benefits if your condition is severe enough for you to qualify for them. They won’t affect the amount you get in Universal Credit.
Moving from Employment and Support Allowance to Universal Credit
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance is one of the benefits that is being replaced by Universal Credit. If you’re currently claiming income-related Employment and Support Allowance you will eventually be moved to Universal Credit.
If your circumstances stay the same
You don’t need to do anything for the time being. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will contact you when it’s time to switch to Universal Credit.
If your circumstances change
If there are certain changes in your life, what the DWP call a ‘change in circumstances’, you might have to make a new claim for Universal Credit.
If this happens, all benefits you are getting which are being replaced by Universal Credit (including income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit and tax credits) will stop.
What are significant changes of circumstances?
A significant change in circumstances might include:
- starting work
- failing a work capability assessment
- renting a new property (certainly if you move to a new local authority).
Will I get less money if I move from ESA to Universal Credit?
If you move to Universal Credit because of a change of circumstances, you will be assessed under Universal Credit rules.
This means your Universal Credit payment might be more or less than the amount you’re getting for your current benefits.
To find out if you’ll be better or worse off on Universal Credit, use the Benefits and budgeting calculator on the Policy in Practice website.
Download a leaflet about Universal Credit if you have a disability or health condition from the GOV.UK website.
If you are getting the Severe Disability Premium
The Severe Disability Premium is not available under Universal Credit.
Since 16 January 2019, you do not have to start claiming Universal Credit if you’re getting the Severe Disability Premium and your circumstances change.
If you have already moved onto Universal Credit and lost the Severe Disability Premium
If you were getting the Severe Disability Premium, but were moved to Universal Credit before 16 January 2019, you will continue to claim Universal Credit.
You’ll get an additional payment on top of your Universal Credit as compensation for any money lost since your Severe Disability Premium stopped.
Universal Credit if you have a sick or disabled child
If your child is disabled or has a long-term health condition, you may be able to claim the disabled child element as part of your Universal Credit payment.
The rate of disabled child element you get will depend on the rate of DLA or PIP you are getting for them.
You will get the higher rate (£400.29 per month in 2020-21) if your child is:
- already getting the DLA higher rate care component
- already getting the PIP enhanced daily living component, or
- registered blind
You’ll get the lower rate (£128.25 per month in 2020-21) if your child is getting all other rates of DLA or PIP.
If you’re claiming DLA or PIP for a sick or disabled child, the amount you’re getting can affect your Universal Credit payment.