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3 July 2007

Benefits and Work has been hearing from an increasing number of claimants who were found exempt from the Personal Capability Assessment some years ago but who have suddenly been sent an IB50 questionnaire to complete.

This has caused considerable distress to people who believed that, because of the severity of their condition, they would no longer have to complete questionnaires or attend medicals. As a result we have produced a six page guide 'Exempt but sent a questionnaire?' which explains the three reasons why this might have happened and what you can do about it.

Under the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), due to replace incapacity benefits in November 2008, there will no longer be any exemptions. At some point every claimant will have to prove that they pass the new, harsher PCA being introduced with ESA. In preparation for this, it appears that the DWP is now checking that claimants whom they may not have bothered with for many years are still exempt from the PCA. It seems that they want to ensure that when ESA is introduced they will have a date, up to five years from the most recent check, when each claimant will be subject to the new PCA. So, for example, someone who has their exemption checked in January 2008 may not be migrated over to ESA and subject to the new PCA until January 2013.

We don't know for certain if this is why the DWP are suddenly checking exemptions in greater numbers and so far they have failed to answer our Freedom of Information requests about a change in policy. However, we are hearing from an increasing number of people to whom this is happening and it does seem a likely explanation.

New guide
Our new guide covers:

What is an exemption from the Personal Capability Assessment?

How long do exemptions last?

What's changed in the last year?

If I'm exempt, how come I've been sent an IB50 questionnaire to complete?

What should I do if no IB113 has been sent to my GP?

What if my GP didn't return the IB113?

What if my GP did return the IB113?

Are there any circumstances under which I can ignore an IB50 questionnaire?

The guide includes extracts from guidance given to decision makers on whether and when to send an IB50 questionnaire to claimants and sample letters to send to the DWP and to your GP. We believe that the information will help many people to avoid having to complete a questionnaire.

Members can download a copy of Exempt but sent a questionnaire?