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Universal Credit Limited Capability for Work

Universal Credit limited capability for work

Limited capability for work elements

An award of Universal Credit can include an additional amount if you have limited capability for work due to a health condition or disability.

The limited capability for work 'LCW' element is awarded when you are thought to be capable, with support, of preparing for work at some point in the future. The extra amount associated with the LCW element was stopped for new claims from 3 April 2017 onwards and for existing UC claimants whose circumstances change after 3 April 2017 so that they are determined as having limited capability for work.

The limited capability for work and work related activity 'LCWRA' element is awarded when your condition is such that you are not thought capable of preparing for work.

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 about the test see our help page Work Capability Assessment.

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 are on certain treatment programs.

If you move 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 work related activity group you will be put in the 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 awarded the UC LCWRA element.

If you are in a couple, and both of you are thought to have limited capability for work, your Universal Credit award will only include one element. If one or both of you qualify for the LCWRA element, this will be included, otherwise you will be in the LCW group. The entitledto benefits calculator will work out which element to include.

Limited capability for work element

The limited capability for work (LCW) element was abolished for new claimants from 3 April 2017 and for people already claiming UC before this date but who are determined as having limited capability for work after 3 April 2017. If you are affected by this change and are found to have limited capability for work (LCW) you will not receive an additional amount when calculating your Universal Credit entitlement. You will still be eligible for the work allowance associated with having limited capability for work 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 limited capability for work before 3 April 2017
  • claimants in the limited capability for work and work related activity group, who will continue to get the LCWRA component
  • existing Universal Credit claimants 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 of Employment and Support Allowance before 3 April 2017 who are receiving the WRAG component and are later moved over to Universal Credit
  • limited capability for work claims made on or after 3 April 2017 which are backdated to a date before 3 April 2017
  • mandatory reconsideration and appeal decisions for limited capability for work claims made before 3 April 2017

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 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.

Waiting period

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 your waiting period will begin when your claim for Universal Credit commences, or if later, when you make a claim for a limited capability for work element.

The waiting period will not apply if:

  • you are terminally ill
  • you are entitled to ESA work related activity or support component, or
  • you were entitled to an ESA component the day before the 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.

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