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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.

Substantial risk
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.

Detailed criteria
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
  • Reaching
  • 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.

No appeal
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

You can download the detailed guidance from DRUK.


#8 Dave 2018-02-24 12:02
I'll be interested to see if this applies to my situation. I've just found out yesterday that after a 3 year award my SG ESA was extended for a further 36 months on scrutiny, no need for a medical assessment, like my original application to go onto ESA from SDA, I got in the SG on scrutiny, paper based decision. Although it was decided 36 months on 5th April 2017 they told me it will be reviewed again 15th April 2019.

So if they do the same thing again in 2019 I wonder if I'll be informed that I have been given exemption from the need for further review due to the changes in policy from Sept 2017 listed above?
+1 #7 ThisGovernmentsGoneToFar 2017-10-19 23:56
Quoting Cairistiona:
Does anyone know how you find out if you are one of the lucky few to have been included in the list? Do they write to tell you, or do you just find that time passes and you don't get another assessment thrown at you?

The best way i can put this in my situation is i should have had an ESA50 back in April 2017 as im in the Support group i asked for my esa85 medical report they done on me, it states?. severe functional disability also prognosis-work unlikley in the longer term. In the justification of advice section is states all medical evidence, esa50 etc and states deteriation noted?. But im 6 months overdue to recieve another form, so at present i've been in the SG for 3 and a half years at the moment. All i can tell you what i can make of it all is i watch the letter box every day until i know my fate either way. I have heard they can do a PBR on your initial claim and then you might get the decision. Some are saying you might have to have another assesment? From what i can work out i fit 3 of their critera. So in theory its a case of waith to see what our fate is. Hope this helps a little. All i xna say im fed up with this merry go round like many of us are.
+2 #6 Cairistiona 2017-10-19 10:32
Does anyone know how you find out if you are one of the lucky few to have been included in the list? Do they write to tell you, or do you just find that time passes and you don't get another assessment thrown at you?
+2 #5 naheegan 2017-10-18 13:11
I appreciate the efforts of DRUK and B&W for getting this information and providing it to claimants and the public. Never ceases to amaze the lengths that people have to go to get government to define and clarify decisions and policies that effect millions of people!
I am discouraged by this latest 'give with one hand and take with the other' tactic, but not really surprised. Also discouraged and heartsick that so many claimants will not meet these very narrow criteria and that there seems to be no recourse to wrong decisions at the final gate.
+4 #4 terry 2017-10-15 18:09
I cannot see things getting any more better,don't fool your self.They won't stop,what they have started.Just as long as things are not happening to their own health.Roll on XMASS,and let's have some nuts.
+7 #3 Samuel Pinder 2017-10-12 22:46
So... nothing changes. As Asperger's Syndrome is on the autistic *spectrum* and is therefore by it's nature ambiguous because it affects everyone differently, I therefore don't qualify. So therefore, I will always be struggling to repeatedly prove my difficulties and flaws in communication that are not obvious, for ironically the exact same reason I struggle to find employment in the first place... for the rest of my life. These regulations have been worded ever so carefully to make the criteria very, very narrow.
+14 #2 Idonia 2017-10-09 21:33
So those claimants who are most likely to tragically take their own lives on account of the stress and fear caused by being forced to undergo repeat ESA assessments... are also those claimants who will not be exempted from future repeat ESA assessments. I didn't think I could hate the Tories any more than I already did, but apparently I still have the capacity to surprise myself :sad:
+7 #1 Just Me 2017-10-09 17:39
Well, no surprises here really. :(

I think the phrase "business as usual" comes to mind.

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