Last updated Monday 30 March
The changes to benefits being made as a result of coronavirus are piecemeal and rapidly changing. Please check back to this page regularly for the latest updates.
There is also a Benefits and Work members Coronavirus forum where you can post queries or information.
We'll also be updating our guides over the coming days to take account of changes to the system. Our Guide to PIP claims and reviews was updated on 24 March 2020
Unless stated otherwise these changes apply if you have been diagnosed with coronavirus or are self-isolating or caring for a child who has been diagnosed with coronavirus or is self-isolating.
The changes apply whether you are making a new claim or there is a review of your benefit.
We have now updated those of our members guides that have been most affected by the recent changes.
Upper tribunal appeals suspended
Upper tribunal hearings have been suspended for three weeks from 25 March. The upper tribunal offices have been closed until further notice. All time limits, including time limits to lodge an appeal to the upper tribunal. have been extended for three weeks. Please note, this does not apply to first tier tribunals.
All benefits reviews and reassessments suspended
There will be no reviews or reassessments of benefits for three months from Tuesday 24 March. The suspension covers all benefits and does not depend on you having been diagnosed with coronavirus or having to self-isolate., It includes:
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Universal Credit (UC)
- Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Attendance Allowance (AA)
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB).
Where an assessment has already taken place for PIP, the decision making process will continue.
If an assessment has been scheduled, the assessment provider should contact you to explain whether a paper or telephone assessment will take place.
Where awards of benefits are due to expire, the DWP will be extending end-dates so that your award continues at its current rate.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
There will be no face-to-face assessments for the next 3 months from March 17th 20/20, until June 17th 2020.The assessment provider that is due to carry out the assessment should contact you to tell you what will happen next. The assessment will either be a paper based one, or carried out over the phone.
If you are making a fresh claim no award will be made without an assessment.
From March 24th 2020 for 3 months, until June 24th 2020 no reviews will be carried out. So if you condition deteriorates and you think you are entitled to a higher rate of PIP it is very important that you request a review anyway to ensure you receive the maximum arrears when the situation returns to normal.
If your PIP is due to expire you will continue to be paid at your current rate.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
When you claim you will be entitled from the first day of sickness i.e. there are no waiting days.
From March 17th 2020 for 3 months there will be no face-to-face assessments, until June 17th 2020 The assessment provider that is due to carry out the assessment should contact you to tell you what will happen next. The assessment will either be a paper based one, or carried out over the phone.
From March 24th 2020 for 3 months until June 24th 2020 no reviews will be carried out for ESA. So if your condition deteriorates and you in the Work Related Activity Group and think you should be in the Support Group it is very important that you request a review to ensure you receive the maximum arrears when the situation returns to normal.
When you claim you will be treated as having Limited Capability for Work (LCW), you will not have to submit fit notes or undergo a Work Capability Assessment (WCA).
Universal Credit (UC)
If you are claiming on the grounds of sickness there will be no face-to-face assessments, for a period of 3 months until June 17th 2020.The assessment provider that is due to carry out the assessment should contact you to tell you what will happen next. The assessment will either be a paper based one, or carried out over the phone.
From March 24th 2020 reviews have been suspended for a period of 3 months until June 24th 2020, in line with the changes to ESA outlined above. The Minimum Income Floor will be suspended. This is a measure that only applies to some self-employed UC claimants.
You will not be required to attend the Jobcentre for any appointments, and in particular you will not be required to attend to begin your claim.
When you claim you will be treated as having LCW, you will not have to submit fit notes or undergo a WCA.
Attendance Allowance (AA) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
Face-to-face assessments have been suspended for a period of 3 months from March 24th 2020, until June 24th 2020.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
Some employees are entitled to this from their employer. Normally you cannot be paid for the first 4 days of sickness, known as ‘waiting days’. There will no longer be any waiting days.
You will be deemed to be incapable of work.
Carers allowance will continue to be payable if there is a temporary break in providing care, due to either the carer or the person being cared for developing coronavirus or having to self-isolate because of coronavirus.
Below are some of the queries we have received on the forum or by email. We have done our best to answer them, but bear in mind the situation is changing rapidly and it is worth checking this page regularly
Q. I have a face-to-face assessment appointment do I need to attend?
A. From March 17th 2020 all face-to- face appointments in relation to sickness and disability benefits have been suspended. This will apply for at least the next 3 months, until June 17th 2020, and covers appointments for Personal Independence Payment, Employment and Support Allowance and Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Universal Credit.
It also covers verification appointments for Universal Credit if you are claiming on the grounds of sickness.
Q. I'm waiting on an appointment,will I get one?
A. The suspension of face-to-face assessments does not mean that your claim will not progress. It has never been the case in law that you are required to have a face-to-face assessment in relation to your claim.The health care provider who is responsible for carrying out assessments in your area should contact you to arrange either a paper assessment, or one over the phone.
Q. Several people have been told by the assessment providers when they phone them that there is no intention to do phone assessments?
A. This is incorrect. The statements from the Department for Work and Pensions make it absolutely clear that carrying out phone assessments is one possibility.
Q My PIP award ends in x months what happens then?
A. The beginning of the process of claiming again has not changed. You will be written to and invited to make a new claim. You should do this, and complete the claim form ‘How Your Disability Affects You’. The health care provider will then carry out either a paper assessment or a phone one. It is very important that you keep to the time limits for claiming and returning the form.
Payment of your current award will continue until a new decision is made on your claim.
Q. I requested a review of my PIP in December 2019 before the process changed, and haven't heard anything. What will happen?
A. Your review will proceed as normal until PIP reach a stage of deciding whether to carry out an assessment. This cannot now be a face-to-face assessment, as there are no face-to-face assessments until at least June 17th 2020 and will either be done on the papers or a phone assessment.
Incidentally given the passage of time since you requested a review, you should chase up PIP.
Q. What do I need to provide for a paper assessment?
A. It is vitally important that you provide as much information as possible, as you will not have the opportunity to attend a face-to-face assessment. Examples of information you should think about including would be medical reports, care plans, statements from family and friends who know about your disability and how it affects you. Also details of changes in medication and treatment if this shows that your condition has worsened, or you have not responded positively to your previous medication or treatment.
Q. My condition has deteriorated and I think I am entitled to a higher rate of PIP. What should I do?
A. A review will not be carried out for at least 3 months starting on March 24th 2020. You should request a review now so that you are entitled to the maximum of arrears in due course when the situation returns to normal.
Q. Can I be found Fit for Work (fail the Work Capability Assessment,) without having attended a face to face assessment?
A. Yes, the decision as to whether you are Fit for Work will be based on a paper or phone assessment. There is no requirement in law that says that the health care provider must carry out a face-to-face assessment.
Q. Will it take longer to assess claims if there are no face-to-face assessments?
A. No one knows what the impact will be. In theory if a significant number of paper assessments are carried out it could make the process quicker.
Q. What happens to DLA awards if the procedure has not been carried out and my award is due to expire?
A. If you are migrating from DLA to PIP your DLA will carry on at its existing rate until a decision is made on your PIP claim.
If your DLA is due to expire and you have reclaimed DLA, in effect you are a child under 16 (18 in Scotland), then your DLA award will also continue to be paid at its existing rate.
Q. How long will these procedures last?
A. At present for at least 3 months from March 17th 2020, until June 17th 2020.
Q. What about appeals?
A. From March 20th 2020 for a period of at least 6 months all appeals will be dealt with initially on the papers if it is highly likely that the appeal will be decided in your favour. A provisional decision will be issued and if you and the DWP agree with it that will become the final decision. Otherwise a full hearing will take place which will be conducted either by phone or by video-link.
Q. I have an assessment for my child’s DLA. Will this go ahead?
A. There will be no fact-to-face assessments. The assssment provider will be in touch with you to arrange paper assessment or a telephone assessment.
Q. I want to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Do I have to send in a sick note?
A. If you have been diagnosed with coronavirus or are self-isolating, or are caring for a child who has been diagnosed or is self-isolating, you do not have to send in a sick note. You will be deemed to have Limited Capacity for Work, and will be paid ESA if you satisfy the other conditions for it.
Q. Are there any waiting days for ESA?
A. No, not if have been diagnosed with coronavirus or are self-isolating. You will be paid from the first day of your sickness.
Q. Are there are any waiting days for Statutory Sick Pay?
A. No, not if you have been diagnosed with coronavirus or are self-isolating.
Q. I am claiming ESA and are in the Work-Related Activity Group. I think I should be in the Support Group. What do I do?
A. A review will not be carried out for at least 3 months from March 24th 2020, until June 24th 2020, but you should not delay requesting a review. This is so that you receive the maximum amount of arrears when the situation returns to normal.
Q. I have been receiving Contributory ESA (CESA) for 10 months, and so it is due to end in 2 months’ time. What will happen?
A. It is not clear. If it ends, you should request a Mandatory Reconsideration arguing that a review can’t be carried out until June 24th 2020 at the earliest. You should also request a separate review arguing that you should be in the Support Group, and then your CESA is not limited to 12 months.