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Start the work capability form for Universal Credit

This advice applies to Scotland

If you can't work because you're disabled or have a health condition, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) usually send you a form to check if your Universal Credit should change. The form is called the 'work capability questionnaire' or 'UC50'.

The form is your chance to tell the DWP how your condition or disability affects your ability to work. There are questions about what you can do physically and your mental health.

Check when to return the form

You need to send the form back within 4 weeks after you got it - otherwise the DWP might decide you can work. Check the letter that came with the form for the exact date.

If you have cancer, you’ll need to ask your doctor or someone else who’s treating you to fill in the last page of the form. They can fill it in before you’ve finished the rest of the form.

If it’s more than 4 weeks since you got the form, you should still fill it in and send it as soon as you can. The DWP might accept it if there’s a good reason you couldn’t send it earlier.

Check what the DWP need to know

The DWP will use the form to decide whether you:

  • have to work or look for work
  • don’t have to work, but have to do things to prepare for work - called ‘limited capability for work’ (LCW)
  • don’t have to work or prepare for work - called ‘limited capability for work-related activity’ (LCWRA)

It’s important to tell the DWP about all the difficulties you have, so they can make the right decision.

Take your time answering each question, and have breaks when you need to. This will help you give the DWP all the information they need.

Don't feel embarrassed about your answers. It's fine if you can't do something, or if you need help - but it’s important to tell the DWP. They need to know what you can manage without anyone else's help.

There are things you can do beforehand to help you give the DWP the information they need - for example, keeping a diary and getting the other evidence you need. Check how to get ready to fill in the form.

Fill in the first section of the form

On pages 2 to 7 you can tell the DWP about yourself, your contact details and any treatment you’re getting.

If you’re returning the form after 4 weeks

Explain on page 3 why you couldn’t send the form back earlier. The DWP might accept it if there’s a good reason.

Include as much detail as you can about why you couldn’t send it earlier - for example if you:

  • didn't get the reminder letter - if this happens, check the DWP have your correct address
  • have been in hospital
  • were too ill
  • had an emergency at home
  • had a bereavement
  • were out of the country

Describe your health condition, illnesses or disabilities

On page 6 you can tell the DWP about your health conditions, illnesses and disabilities. You should tell them:

  • how long you’ve had your health condition or disability
  • when you were diagnosed - if you have a diagnosis

If you don't have a diagnosis for your condition or disability, you should still include it on the form. Describe your symptoms and how they affect you.

It’s also a good idea to include information about:

  • how your condition or disability affects what you can do each day
  • anything you can’t do that you could do before - for example, if you used to exercise but now you can’t
  • if your condition has become worse over time
  • how medication affects you - for example if you get side effects
  • if you had to give up work because of your health, and why
  • if working or getting ready to work might make your health worse - for example if travelling to jobs or training would make your mental health condition worse
  • if working or getting ready to work might mean there’s a risk to someone else - for example if you’d act in a way that’s dangerous for other people

The DWP want to know what you can do most days. If your symptoms change or are worse on some days than others, think about:

  • what you usually expect to do in a day
  • what you can do on bad days - and how often they happen
  • what you can do on good days - and how often they happen

If you need more space to explain your situation, use page 21 of the form. You can also send more information in a separate file or piece of paper - include your name and National Insurance number when you send it.

If your condition changes from day to day

You might find it hard to describe a normal day if your symptoms change or are worse on some days than others.

The DWP want to know what you can do most days. Think about:

  • what you usually expect to do in a day
  • what you can do on bad days - and how often they happen
  • what you can do on good days - and how often they happen

Use page 6 to describe if you have good and bad days. For example, if you find it difficult to cope 4 days out of 7 - you have 3 good days a week but on the other days you need to rest.

If your patterns are unpredictable, it can be difficult to explain. You could write something like this:

“I will explain how my condition affects me day to day under each question in the rest of the form.”

If you use aids

You should write down if you use things like:

  • a walking stick or walking frame
  • grab rails in the bath - say when you had them fitted
  • a wheelchair
  • hearing aids
  • a raised toilet seat
  • visual aids
  • any equipment to help you get dressed

If your condition is linked to drugs or alcohol

If any of your health conditions or disabilities are linked to problems with alcohol or drugs, it’s important to describe this on page 6.

You should include:

  • what help or treatment you’re getting
  • if you’re waiting for a referral
  • if you haven't been offered any help

Answer the next section

The next section of the form is about how your condition or disability affects what you do. There are questions about what you can do physically and your mental health.

If you’re getting cancer treatment, you only need to fill in these sections if you also have other health conditions or disabilities. If you don’t have any other conditions or disabilities, find out how to finish and send the form.

If you have other health conditions or disabilities or you’re not getting cancer treatment, you should fill in the next section about how your conditions affect you.

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