Universal Credit for sick or disabled people

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 might be able to claim Universal Credit if you haven't made enough National Insurance Contributions to claim Employment and Support Allowance.

This also applies if you can’t work because you, or a child you’re caring for, are sick, self-isolating or shielding as a result of coronavirus.

You’ll be assessed to see how your disability or illness affects your ability to work, although there are currently no face-to-face assessments due to coronavirus.

You might also be able to claim additional elements of Universal Credit to help with other costs, such as housing costs, caring or bringing up children.

If you’re married, in a civil partnership or living with your partner, you’ll have to make a joint claim for Universal Credit.

Your Universal Credit claim will depend on your household income and savings. You won’t qualify if you have savings over £16,000.

Claiming Universal Credit when you’re sick or disabled

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.

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.

Form UC50

Citizens Advice Help to Claim service

If you’re claiming Universal Credit for the first time, Citizens Advice Help to Claim service is free and confidential. They can help you:

  • check if you’re entitled to Universal Credit
  • get your important paperwork and documents together to speed up your application
  • fill out your application online.

England and Wales

Or, in England, call 0800 144 8444. In Wales, call 0800 024 1220.

Scotland

Northern Ireland

When 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 might be asked to attend a work capability assessment.

The assessment will decide which of the following categories you’re in:

  • you’re fit for work
  • you have limited capability for work – which means that although you might 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 you won’t be asked to look for, or prepare for, work.

Getting a decision from the DWP

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, such as writing a CV or going on training courses.

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.

In 2021/22 you’ll also get an extra £343.63 a month as part of your Universal Credit payment.

Can I claim Universal Credit if I’m working?

You can claim Universal Credit if you’re working.

When 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 for 2021/22 are:

  • £293 if your Universal Credit includes housing support
  • £515 if you don’t get 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.

PIP is gradually replacing the Disability Living Allowance.

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’s being replaced by Universal Credit. If you’re currently claiming income-related Employment and Support Allowance, you’ll eventually be moved to Universal Credit.

If your circumstances stay the same

You don’t need to do anything for the now.

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, you might have to make a new claim for Universal Credit. The DWP call these a ‘change in circumstances’.

If this happens, all benefits you’re getting that are being replaced by Universal Credit will stop. These include:

  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • tax credits.

What are significant changes of circumstances?

A significant change in circumstances might include:

  • starting work
  • failing a work capability assessment
  • renting a new property – especially if you move to a new local authority area.

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’ll 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.

If you’re getting the Severe Disability Premium

The Severe Disability Premium isn’t available under Universal Credit.

If you’re getting the Severe Disability Premium and your circumstances change and you need to claim Universal Credit, your Severe Disability Premium will stop.

Instead you'll get a transitional payment as part of your Universal Credit payment.

In 2021/22 this will be between £120 and £405 a month, depending on whether you're single or in a couple and your ability to work.

If you’ve already moved onto Universal Credit and lost the Severe Disability Premium

Were you getting the Severe Disability Premium, but were moved to Universal Credit before 16 January 2019? Then you’ll continue to claim Universal Credit.

You’ll get an extra 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 might 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’re getting for them.

You’ll get the higher rate (£402.41 a month in 2021/22) 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 (£128.89 a month in 2021/22) 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.

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impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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