To make this simple I am only going to look at the rules about Limited Capability for Work here, i.e. the ones that decide whether you are entitled to Employment and Support Allowance at all.
If you want to know about the rules for being put in the ‘support group’ click here.
|This web page will fit most people’s circumstances but there are extra complications in some situations. If you want to know about these unusual situations you may need to see further advice.|
If you’re reading this because you’ve just been refused, chances are that you’ll already have worked out that ‘points’ are involved. Here’s how it works…
It’s important to remember that the government doesn’t ever talk about you being ‘unfit for work’: instead, it says you ‘have a limited capability for work’, by which they mean that they think that your ability to do work is limited by illness or by disability.
For the Jobcentre Plus to decide that you do have limited capability for work you will normally need to get 15 points or more (I’ll give two important exceptions below). These get totted up from a list of different activities. Some of these activities are physical, like sitting, standing, using your hands, and controlling your bladder and bowels. Some of these activities relate to mental health problems and learning difficulties (yes, I know they’re two different things!) like concentrating, coping with change, and interacting with other people.
For each activity there are a choice of different descriptors. These describe different amounts of difficulty. Jobcentre Plus will choose which ONE of these descriptors and apply it to you.
The full list is here but now let’s just look at one activity as an example: picking up and moving things…
|4. Picking up and moving or transferring by the use of the upper
body and arms.
||(a) Cannot pick up and move a 0.5 litre carton full of liquid.
|(b) Cannot pick up and move a one litre carton full of liquid.
|(c) Cannot transfer a light but bulky object such as an empty
|(d) None of the above applies.
A few things to note:
- There are only three ways of getting any points. If you don’t fit (a), (b), or (c) you get no points for picking up and moving things.
- Every single word is important. Sometimes this is bad news for you: for example, in (c ), if you have trouble moving a cardboard box that isn’t empty, then no points. It can be good news: Imagine a person who had no arms, but had trained herself to pick things up with her mouth - that person would score 15 points as the activity is using ‘the upper body and arms’
- Only one descriptor can be applied. So if you can’t pick up and move a one litre bottle and you can’t transfer a ‘light but bulky object’ you don’t get 15 points for this activity (9+6): you only get 9. Sorry.
- This activity, like all the others, has one descriptor which gives no points (d). Sadly you’re likely to see quite a few of these in your decision.
Normally if you get less than 15 points, it’s bad news…
But sometimes, even if you don’t get 15 points, you should still be treated as having a limited capability for work. These are called exceptional circumstances.
There are just two exceptional circumstances that can be considered. Here they are:
- You have a life threatening disease, and there is medical evidence that it’s not under control, and that, realistically, there’s no way it could be controlled in your case;
- Because of a disability or illness that you have, there would be a ‘substantial risk’ to anyone’s physical or mental health if you had to work or look for work. Note that this isn’t just about a risk to you; it could be a risk to someone else
Here’s two examples to give you an idea of what might apply
- ‘I need to work out whether my appeal has a reasonable chance of succeeding’
- ‘I want to know about the appeal process (and how to survive while the appeal is going on)’
- ‘I want know about preparing for and attending the appeal hearing’
- ‘I want to know what my options are if my appeal fails’
- ‘What should I do if my appeal doesn’t have a reasonable chance of succeeding?’