INCAPACITY BENEFIT EXPLAINED: The new Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is replacing Incapacity Benefit in the UK.
Incapacity Benefit was help for those who were unable to work because of an illness or disability.
But the changes to Incapacity Benefit are now reflected in the new ESA rates.
As a rule, new claims for Incapacity Benefit ended in October 2008.
But, in some isolated cases you might still qualify to make a new claim for Incapacity Benefit. Most often it is when you are getting Income Support on grounds of a disability.
Existing claimants of Incapacity Benefit will get reassessed. The assessment will determine whether you are capable of work or more eligible for ESA. But, anyone close to UK State Pension age will not get reassessed.
Incapacity Benefit Reassessment Process
What happens during the Incapacity Benefit review process? Your local Jobcentre Plus office will send you a review questionnaire. This is the first step of a reassessment.
The questionnaire asks how your disability or illness affects your ability to complete day to day tasks.
- You should complete the questionnaire and return it before the deadline expires. Remember to include your original medical reports or any relevant letters. The originals get returned to you.
- You must attend a reassessment meeting if Jobcentre Plus inform you to go for the assessment.
- Your Incapacity Benefit will stop if your reassessment determines you are capable of working. Jobcentre Plus will discuss the options available and what happens next. Your next step could be to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) instead.
- What if the reassessment shows you cannot look for work? In this case you will get an automatic transfer onto Employment Support Allowance.
Working and Claiming Incapacity Benefit
There are several ways you can earn extra money even while you claim Incapacity Benefit. Getting your regular Incapacity Benefit is not usually affected if you:
- Join in some volunteer work.
- Work an average of less than sixteen (16) hours a week and earn up to £152 per week.
- Work and earn up to £152 a week, if your work gets done as part of a treatment programme or gets supervised by someone from a local council or voluntary organisation.
- Work and earn up to £152 a week and are exempt from personal capability assessment.
This type of working while claiming benefits is ‘permitted work‘. But, you must inform Jobcentre Plus if you start any kind of permitted work. Their contact telephone number will be on any correspondence letters they sent to you.
You must also inform the Jobcentre Plus office who deal with your claim if any of your circumstances change. A change in circumstances can affect how much benefit you get.
HMRC Benefits Cap
The DWP benefit cap limits the total amount of money that claimants aged 16 to 64 can get. It does not affect every claimant. But, the benefits cap may affect the total amount of benefit entitlement you get.
Living Abroad and Claiming Incapacity Benefit
Britain has a ‘Social Security Agreement’ with some countries. The agreement covers some Incapacity Benefit payments. That means you might be able to continue receiving UK benefits while abroad.
The list of Social Security Agreement countries includes:
- Jersey and Guernsey
- Republics of the former Yugoslavia
- The Philippines
There are several steps to make if you plan to go to another country and get your UK Incapacity Benefit. Make sure you tell your local Jobcentre Plus in advance of you leaving the UK.
In some cases your UK National Insurance contributions may help you qualify for local benefits. The final decision depend on the country you move to. You can contact the International Pension Centre for more information about receiving UK benefits while overseas.
Moving Back to the United Kingdom
If you worked in a Social Security Agreement country for a UK employer you may qualify for Incapacity Benefit if you move back to live in the United Kingdom.
Some Social Security Agreement countries will pay Incapacity Benefit to you if you lived and worked there but now live in the UK. You should contact the relevant authorities in other countries directly to make a claim for benefits from them.