The criteria that the DWP are using to decide which claimants will no longer have to have repeat work capability assessments (WCAs) in order to continue receiving employment and support allowance (ESA) or universal credit have now been published. They show that many claimants with mental health conditions will not be considered, even though they are in the support group.
Last week the government announced that claimants who have to attend a WCA from 29 September 2017 will not have to have repeat assessments if they meet certain, at that time undisclosed, criteria.
However, Disability Rights UK, who took part in the consultation on the changes, have published copies of the guidance on their website.
The documents make it clear that claimants who are placed in the support group because their mental health condition means that there would be a substantial risk to themselves or someone else if they were not placed there, will not be considered for exemption from further medicals.
This is in spite of the fact that the substantial risk regulations are a very common ground for claimants with mental health conditions being placed in the support group.
Instead, claimants can only be considered if they are in the support group because of one of the “functional descriptors” due to either a physical or mental health condition. These are are:
- Mobilising 50m
- Transfer independently
- Picking up and/or moving
- Manual dexterity
- Making yourself understood
- Understanding communication
- Weekly incontinence
- Learning tasks
- Awareness of hazards
- Personal actions
- Coping with change
- Engaging socially
- Appropriateness of behaviour
- Unable to eat / drink / chew / swallow / convey food or drink
Claimants will also need to show that all of the following apply:
- Their condition will last for the rest of their lives.
- The effect of their condition means that they will always meet at least one of the support group descriptors above. The DWP say that conditions which might qualify, include: “Motor Neurone Disease (MND), severe and progressive forms of MS, Parkinson’s, all dementias, all chromosomal conditions, Huntington’s, severe irreversible cardiorespiratory failure, severe acquired brain injury …this list is not exhaustive” . The DWP also say that conditions which might not meet the criteriainclude “recently diagnosed relapsing non-progressive forms of MS or some people with less severe mental health conditions with periods of reasonable function”.
- There is no realistic prospect of recovery, such as a transplant.
- They have been diagnosed with an unambiguous medically recognised condition. This can include conditions such as ME/CFS and fibromyalgia.
A health professional will make a recommendation as to whether a claimant meets the criteria for being exempt from further WCAs. A DWP decision make will make the final decision.
There is no right of appeal against a decision not to exempt a claimant from further WCAs