Universal Credit Limited Capability for Work
If you have limited capability for work due to a health condition or disability, your Universal Credit award may include an additional amount and you will have different requirements or conditionality compared to those without a health condition or disability.
There are two different groups determined by your capability for work, the Limited Capability for Work (LCW) group and the Limited Capability for Work and Work-Related Activity (LCWRA) group.
In most cases your capability for work will be assessed with a Work Capability Assessment before deciding which group you should be in.
You can find out more about the different groups and the assessment process below.
Limited Capability for Work (LCW)
You may be in the limited capability for work 'LCW' group if you are thought to be capable, with support, of preparing for work at some point in the future.
Before 3 April 2017 this would mean different conditionality to those expected to actively seek work, you will receive a work allowance so you/your partner can earn more before having your benefit reduced, and an extra amount associated with being in the LCW group called the LCW element.
New UC claims from 3 April 2017 onwards, and existing UC claimants whose circumstances change after 3 April 2017 so they are newly placed in the LCW group, are not awarded the extra amount called the LCW element as it was abolished. You will still be eligible for the work allowance and your work-related requirements will take account of this, you just won't get the increase in your award.
This change doesn't affect:
- existing Universal Credit claimants with LCW before 3 April 2017
- existing Universal Credit claimants with LCW before 3 April 2017, who have a further Work Capability Assessment (re-assessment) after 3 April 2017 and are placed into the LCW group, even if they move from the LCWRA group
- claimants in the LCWRA group, who will continue to get the LCWRA element
- claimants of Employment and Support Allowance before 3 April 2017 who are receiving the WRAG component and are later moved over to Universal Credit
- LCW claims made on or after 3 April 2017 which were backdated to a date before 3 April 2017
- mandatory reconsideration and appeal decisions for LCW claims that were made before 3 April 2017
Limited Capability for Work and Work-Related Activity (LCWRA)
You may be placed in the limited capability for work and work related activity 'LCWRA' group if your condition is such that you are not thought capable of preparing for work.
This means you will not be expected to take part in any work related activities, you will receive a higher level work allowance so you/your partner can earn more before your benefit is reduced, and an extra amount associated with being in the LCWRA group called the LCWRA element.
Couples with limited capability for work
If you are in a couple, and both of you are thought to have limited capability for work, you may be put in different groups but your Universal Credit award can only include one element, or additional amount.
If one or both of you are in the LCWRA group and therefore qualify for the higher LCWRA element, this will be the one that is included, otherwise the lower LCW element will be included - as long as you or your partner qualify for the extra amount (see the LCW section above).
The entitledto benefits calculator will work out which element to include if you are both in a limited capability for work group.
Work Capability Assessment
In most cases you will be asked to attend a Work Capability Assessment to determine whether your health condition or disability affects your ability to work and if so which element is appropriate for your award.
The assessment looks at whether you are able to perform certain activities - covering both physical and mental health - and awards points for the activities you are not able to do or struggle with due to your health condition or disability. A total of 15 points across the assessment means you have limited capability for work.
For more information on criteria for both the LCW and LCWRA see the Work Capability Assessment help page.
In some circumstances you can be treated as having limited capability for work in Universal Credit without having to go through the work capability assessment, for example if you terminally ill, are on certain treatment programs or are over state pension age and in receipt of a disability benefit.
Moving on to Universal Credit from Employment and Support Allowance
If you move on to Universal Credit from Employment and Support Allowance and have already been assessed as having limited capability for work you will not have to undertake the assessment again.
If you were in the ESA work related activity group (WRAG) you will be put in the UC LCW group. If you were receiving the extra WRAG amount in ESA you will get the extra LCW amount in UC.
If you were in the ESA support group you will be put in the UC LCWRA group and awarded the UC LCWRA element.
Earnings and the work capability assessment
If your capability for work has not yet been assessed
The work capability assessment which determines your entitlement to a limited capability for work element will not be carried out, therefore you will not receive a LCW or LCWRA element, if your earnings are equal to or above a set threshold. This threshold is the amount you would earn if working 16 hours at the national minimum/living wage.
The exceptions to this are if you are receiving Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment, or can be treated as having limited capability for work in Universal Credit without having to go through the work capability assessment. In these cases the earnings threshold does not apply.
If your capability for work has already been assessed
If you have already been assessed as having limited capability for work (either for Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance) and therefore already have a LCW or LCWRA element included in your award, this will not be affected by your earnings going above the threshold.
In most cases, the LCW or LCWRA element will not be included in your Universal Credit award straight away. There is a three month waiting period which will begin when you provide evidence of having limited capability for work.
If you have earnings above the threshold for a work capability assessment to be carried out, but are still eligible to have one because you are receiving Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment, your waiting period will begin when your claim for Universal Credit commences, or when you make a claim for a limited capability for work element if this is later.
The waiting period will not apply if:
- you are terminally ill
- you are in the ESA work related activity group or support group and are being moved over to Universal Credit, or
- you were in the ESA WRAG or Support group the day before your Universal Credit award began but it stopped due to time limiting rules
If you have previously been awarded Universal Credit with a LCW or LCWRA element included but the award ended because you stopped being part of a couple or started being part of a couple, you will not have to wait again on your new award. If you began but did not finish the waiting period on the previous award, the waiting period will end when it would have done in relation to your previous award, you will not have to start the three months again.