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Getting Universal Credit if you’re sick or disabled

Mae’r cyngor hwn yn berthnasol i Cymru

If you have difficulty working because you’re sick or disabled, you might:

  • get more Universal Credit
  • not have to look for work while you get Universal Credit

If the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) agree you can’t work, they’ll check if you can get ready to work in the future.

If the DWP think you can get ready to work

They’ll say you have 'limited capability for work' (LCW).

You won’t have to look for work. You might have to do tasks to get ready for work - like training or writing a CV. ​​

You won't usually get extra money if you have LCW.

If the DWP don’t think you can get ready for work

They’ll say you have 'limited capability for work-related activity' (LCWRA).

You won’t have to work or do anything to get ready for work. You'll usually get £390.06 extra each month.

You’ll usually start getting the extra money after 3 months. There are some situations where you’ll get it straight away, for example: 

  • if you’re terminally ill and your health professional says you might not live more than a year

  • if you get new style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) with a support or work-related activity component

You can check the full list of reasons why you might get the extra money earlier. You’ll need to open the heading ‘If you’re sick or disabled’. You can also talk to an adviser.

If you already have to do some work-related requirements, the DWP might decide you can stop them earlier than 3 months.

If you’re moving to Universal Credit from other benefits

Universal Credit is replacing 6 benefits called ‘legacy benefits’. These are:

  • Housing Benefit
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Child Tax Credits (CTC)
  • Working Tax Credits (WTC)
  • Income Support

You might have to move to Universal Credit if your situation changes in certain ways - for example if you separate from your partner or move to a different council area.

You might also have to move to Universal Credit if you get a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) telling you to claim Universal Credit by a certain date. The letter is called a ‘migration notice’.

You can still move to Universal Credit if neither of these things have happened, but it’s important to think carefully. If you apply for Universal Credit:

  • any legacy benefits you're getting will end
  • you won't be able to go back to any of the legacy benefits in the future - even if you’re appealing a benefit decision

Find out more about moving to Universal Credit from other benefits.

If you were getting a benefit with a severe disability premium (SDP)

You might get an extra amount in your Universal Credit if you were getting, or recently stopped getting, a benefit with a severe disability premium (SDP).

What you need to do depends on whether you’ve had a migration notice.

If you’ve had a migration notice

The DWP will usually include your SDP when they work out how much Universal Credit you’ll get. This is because the DWP might add an extra amount to your Universal Credit to stop you being worse off than you were on your old benefits. The extra amount is called a ‘managed migration transitional element’.

You might not get a managed migration transitional element if:

  • your old benefits have already stopped
  • you get more money from Universal Credit than your old benefits

If you don’t get the managed migration transitional element, you might still get an extra amount because of the SDP. You’ll need to apply for Universal Credit within a month after you stop getting the benefit with the SDP. You can’t get the extra amount if you:

  • were only getting the SDP with Housing Benefit
  • move in with a partner who is claiming Universal Credit
  • stop being eligible for the SDP

If you’re not sure when to apply for Universal Credit, talk to an adviser.

If you haven’t had a migration notice

To get the extra amount, you’ll need to apply for Universal Credit within a month after you stop getting the benefit with the SDP. You can’t get the extra amount if you:

  • were only getting the SDP with Housing Benefit
  • move in with a partner who is claiming Universal Credit
  • stop being eligible for the SDP

Before 27 January 2021, you couldn’t claim Universal Credit if you were getting, or recently stopped getting, a benefit with an SDP. If you applied for Universal Credit before 27 January 2021, talk to an adviser. They can help you work out what you’re entitled to.

Tell the DWP you have difficulty working

It’s important to show you have LCW or LCWRA as soon as possible.

If you're making a new claim, use the application form to tell the DWP about your disability or health condition. You should explain how the disability or condition makes it hard for you to work.

If you're already getting Universal Credit, use the ‘Report a change of circumstances’ tab on your online account or call the Universal Credit helpline.

Universal Credit helpline

Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 328 1744
Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Relay UK - if you can't hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 0800 328 5644

You can use Relay UK with an app or a textphone. There’s no extra charge to use it. Find out how to use Relay UK on the Relay UK website.

Video relay - if you use British Sign Language (BSL).

You can find out how to use video relay on YouTube.

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.

Get a fit note

You’ll also need to send the DWP a ‘fit note’ from your doctor. The fit note confirms your disability or health condition to the DWP.

You can get a fit note from your:

  • GP or another doctor
  • registered nurse
  • chemist
  • occupational therapist
  • physiotherapist

Your fit note will be either printed or digital. If you’re not sure which kind you’ll get and how you’ll get it, check with the healthcare professional.

If you get a printed fit note, check that the healthcare professional has signed it.

If you get a digital fit note, check that it includes the healthcare professional’s name.

If the healthcare professional hasn't either signed your fit note or included their name, it could be rejected by the DWP and you might have to get a new one.

You should always keep your fit note - you might have to pay for a replacement if you lose or delete it.

It’s a good idea to add your fit note to your online account. If you have a printed fit note, you’ll need to take a photo of it to upload. If you can’t upload the fit note, write a message in your journal to explain the problem to the DWP.

If you can’t get a fit note, talk to an adviser.

Check if you can get LCW or LCWRA automatically

To get LCW or LCWRA, you’ll usually need to fill in another form and go to a medical assessment. This process usually takes a few months.

In some situations you won’t have to fill in the form or go to an assessment - you’ll get LCW or LCWRA automatically.

You might get LCW or LCWRA automatically if you:

  • are pregnant
  • were getting Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) when you applied for Universal Credit
  • are over State Pension age and getting other benefits
  • are in hospital or quarantine
  • are having cancer treatment, or recovering from it
  • have a serious illness

You're pregnant

You should get LCWRA automatically if working or getting ready for work could be a risk to your health or your baby's health. Tell your work coach and make a note on your online account.

You’ll need to wait 3 months to get the extra money. If you already do some work-related requirements, the DWP might decide you can stop doing them before 3 months.

They might still ask you to complete a UC50 form - especially if you have another health condition or disability.

You get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

If you have LCWRA, you’ll get the extra money straight away.

You might still need to fill in the UC50 form and go to an assessment - it depends which type of ESA you get.

If you get new-style ESA

If you’re in the ESA support group, you'll automatically have LCWRA.

If you’re in the ESA Work-Related Activity Group, you’ll automatically have LCW.

If you already have LCW or LCWRA for new-style ESA, you don't need to fill in another form or have a medical assessment for Universal Credit.

The DWP might still say you need another assessment for your Universal Credit claim, but you don't. If the DWP say you need another assessment, you can challenge your Universal Credit decision.

If you got old-style ESA

You can get LCW or LCWRA straight away if you:

  • were getting ESA in the ESA support group or the Work-Related Activity Group
  • claimed Universal Credit before you stopped being eligible for ESA

You'll still have LCW or LCWRA on Universal Credit as long as there's no break between your old-style ESA claim and your Universal Credit claim.

The DWP might send you a UC50 form to check you’re still eligible for LCW or LCWRA.

You're over State Pension age and getting other benefits

You'll get LCWRA automatically if you're over State Pension age and getting either:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP) with the 'enhanced daily living component'
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with the 'highest rate care component'

You’ll need to wait 3 months to get the extra money.

You'll get LCW automatically if you're getting either:

  • PIP, but not the enhanced daily living component
  • DLA, but not the highest rate care component

The DWP should also send you a UC50 form to check if you should be getting LCWRA instead of LCW. If they don’t, call the Universal Credit helpline or request it through your online account.

Universal Credit helpline

Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 328 1744
Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Relay UK - if you can't hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 0800 328 5644

You can use Relay UK with an app or a textphone. There’s no extra charge to use it. Find out how to use Relay UK on the Relay UK website.

Video relay - if you use British Sign Language (BSL).

You can find out how to use video relay on YouTube.

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.

You're in hospital or quarantine

If you go into hospital or drug or alcohol rehab for at least 24 hours, update your Universal Credit online account as soon as you can.

You'll have LCW while you're in hospital. You'll also have LCW after you come out, if the DWP agree you need time to recover.

You'll also have LCW if you've been given official notice not to work because you have an infectious disease.

The DWP should also send you a UC50 form to check if you should be getting LCWRA. If they don’t, call the Universal Credit helpline.

Universal Credit helpline

Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 328 1744
Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Relay UK - if you can't hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 0800 328 5644

You can use Relay UK with an app or a textphone. There’s no extra charge to use it. Find out how to use Relay UK on the Relay UK website.

Video relay - if you use British Sign Language (BSL).

You can find out how to use video relay on YouTube.

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.

You’re having cancer treatment, or recovering from it

You're likely to have LCWRA if you're:

  • being treated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy
  • likely to start treatment in the next 6 months
  • recovering from treatment

You might also have LCWRA if you're getting other cancer treatments - like immunotherapy, biological treatment or hormonal treatment. If you're being treated with any of these and the DWP decide you don't have LCWRA, talk to an adviser.

The DWP will usually still send you a UC50 form to complete. This includes a section on cancer treatment.

You’ll usually need to wait 3 months to get the extra money.

If you have a terminal illness and might not live more than a year

You'll always have LCWRA. You can stop doing work-related requirements and get the extra money straight away.

You don’t need to complete a UC50 form. You’ll need to send the DWP a medical report from a doctor or another health professional. The report will be on form SR1. You don’t have to pay for it.

Ask your doctor or another healthcare professional to email the report to the DWP to save time.

You have a serious illness

There are some treatments and conditions where you'll get LCW or LCWRA automatically. If you have LCWRA, you might need to wait 3 months to get the extra money.

You'll still need to put a note on your online account mentioning your diagnosis and explaining how your illness or treatment stops you working or preparing for work.

You’ll have LCW if you're having:

  • weekly dialysis
  • plasma exchange
  • intravenous feeding

Your LCW will continue if you've finished one of these treatments and the DWP agree you need time to recover. The DWP should also send you a UC50 form to check if you should be getting LCWRA.

If you have a terminal illness and might not live more than a year

You'll always have LCWRA. You can stop doing work-related requirements and get the extra money straight away.

You don’t need to complete a UC50 form. You’ll need to send the DWP a medical report from your doctor or another health professional. The report will be on form SR1. You don’t have to pay for it.

Ask your GP or consultant to email the report to the DWP to save time.

If you don’t have LCW or LCWRA automatically

The DWP will send you a form called ‘UC50’. They’ll use the form to decide if you should get LCW or LCWRA. Check how to get ready to complete the UC50 form.

If you think you should have got LCW or LCWRA automatically without the form or assessment, you can ask the DWP to change their decision.