The DWP have revealed the draft criteria they will be using to select claimants for the Severe Disability Group, which will allow fast-track claims for disability benefits.  Benefits and Work would like to know if readers with severe, lifelong conditions think they would meet the criteria.

What is the Severe Disability Group?

The purpose of the Severe Disability Group is to improve the disability benefits assessment process for claimants who have conditions which are severely disabling, lifelong and with no realistic prospect of recovery.

Claimants who fit the criteria will not need to complete a detailed application form or go through a face-to-face assessment in order to claim personal independence payment (PIP) or to be found to have limited capability for work-related activity (LCWRA) for employment and support allowance (ESA0 or universal credit (UC).

The introduction of a Severe Disability Group was first consulted on in the Health and Disability green paper in 2021.

The resulting Health and Disability white paper published in 2023 revealed that design and testing of the Severe Disability Group had already begun.

The DWP have now announced that they are widening the testing of the Severe Disability Group, with two separate tests taking place, both relating to PIP.  There is more on this below.

How the Severe Disability Group works

Where a claimant is considered likely to meet the criteria for the Severe Disability Group, a short form will be sent to their specialist clinician.  The form is similar to the SR1/DS1500 form used for claimants who are terminally ill.

You can download a copy of the SR1 form from the response to this freedom of information request.

If the specialist confirms that the claimant meets the criteria, they will not be required to attend an assessment and will no longer be required to fill in complex forms, such as the PIP ‘How your disability affects you’ form or the ESA50/UC50.

Testing the criteria

The DWP are currently running two tests of the draft Severe Disability Group criteria

One test involves asking a selected group of clinicians to identify patients they believe are suitable.

The other test involves the DWP contacting claimants they consider to be likely to meet the criteria and asking if they would be willing to take part.  If they are, the DWP will then contact their clinician and ask them to complete a brief form. 

The DWP have said that participation is entirely voluntary, claimants can withdraw at any time and they “will not be financially disadvantaged by taking part.”

Official criteria

In order to meet the Severe Disability Group criteria, the DWP say claimants must :

have an irreversible or progressive condition, confirmed or managed by a secondary care specialist, with no realistic prospect of improvement 

have had no significant response to treatment, or treatment will not improve function, or no further treatment is planned

have a severe impairment of physical or mental function (or likely to develop this within 6 months) such that they need assistance from another person to complete two or more activities of daily living

The Secretary of State is satisfied that, for the individual patient the criteria have been fulfilled for: 
enhanced Personal Independence Payment (PIP) daily living or mobility components
functional limited capacity for work-related activity (LCWRA) or support group

Our interpretation

There is no published official guidance on how to interpret these criteria. So, please be aware that the definitions below are our understanding of the criteria, they are not official definitions.

An irreversible condition is one that may not deteriorate further but will also not improve, such as a learning disability, ADHD, spinal cord injury or cerebral palsy.

A progressive condition is one that is known to deteriorate, such as osteoarthritis, Parkinson’s disease, COPD or Alzheimer’s disease.  

A secondary care specialist is someone who is not in the first line of treatment.  So, a GP or mental health nurse would not be included, but a cardiologist or a psychiatrist would be.  It appears that you don’t need to be currently seeing a specialist, but you need to at least have had your condition confirmed by a specialist.

There is no planned treatment that will improve your condition further.

Your condition needs to affect two or more activities of daily living to the extent that you need assistance from another person.  These activities aren’t defined, but the list of PIP daily living activities would seem to be a likely place to start.

For PIP, you need to be able to meet the threshold for an enhanced award of the PIP daily living or mobility component.  If you don’t already get an award, you can check the criteria using the Benefits and Work PIP test.

For UC or ESA, you need to meet the criteria for being in the LCWRA group or the support group.  If you don’t currently get either of these benefits you can our UC WCA test for LCWRA or use our ESA test for the support group.

Would you qualify?

The DWP say they worked with specialist health professionals to develop the criteria and also consulted with several charities.

But, as always, they don’t seem to have talked to any of the claimants who will be on the receiving end of this system.

So, we’d like to hear your opinions and queries about the criteria in the comments section below. 

And, if you currently get at least one component of PIP at the enhanced rate or you are in the LCWRA group for UC or the support group for ESA, do you think you would meet these criteria and be eligible for the Severe Disability Group?  Or is there something about your condition, your contact with health professionals or something else that you think would threaten your chances?

You can read the full Severe Disability Group test: information for clinicians  Please note: considerably more details about the Severe Disability Group criteria were added to the DWP web page on 27 February.

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  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Pat753 · 15 days ago
    "Where a claimant is considered likely to meet the criteria for the Severe Disability Group, a short form will be sent to their specialist clinician."

    That'll be the sticking point for a lot of potential applicants - trying to get a primary care appointment is almost impossible; getting onto a specialist waiting list to get an up-to-date secondary care diagnosis even more so for those who have a condition which meets the SDG criteria, but for which any diagnostic paperwork has long been lost in chaotic NHS filing along the way.
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    Nikkimartian · 20 days ago
    I help a few people out with PIP and ESA that I know as friends and my Husband and believe at least two should come under the guidance for severe disability and not subject to further assessment. I also work as a PA for someone who definitely qualifies as well (on an indefinite award for PIP (enhanced for both) and the friend qualifies under the OCD description and my Husband does for epilepsy and cognitive impairment but doesn’t have weekly tonic clonic seizures but does for absence seizures, their criterion seems exceptionally vague and woolly though and doesn’t even mention quadra/tetraplegia or upper limb amputation whereas a double lower limb amputation is… it’s totally weird the way they describe or consider some conditions but not others
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    K groves · 25 days ago
    I had servere disability allowance but my son turned 18 and I was no longer entitled to it which is unreal just because of someone's age doesn't heal mu disability its a disgraceful rule and one that should be abolished 
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    Jax · 25 days ago
    I have recently applied for pip using the sr1 form from my doctor as I have had recent life saving surgery for a suberachnoid bleed on the brain,this makes me very high risk for experiencing a second bleed and possibility of death within 12 months.The dwp have refused to acknowledge this information even tho it comes from a doctor,it’s outrageous that people who are not even qualified in this matter are making decisions on everyone’s lives when they don’t even get their facts right.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Caroline Moores · 15 days ago
      @Jax I. Think that they have no Life experience and it's also a disgrace that they have no compassion and empathy from Caroline moores 
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    Bourbongirl · 26 days ago
    Hello this is my first time here , but have always have the free Emails,    I'm not very good with tech  I'm one of those going for face to face, for severe  disability  Esa, even  though  I've been on esa for a long time  and should be at retirement  age soon, so looking for advice  for the face to face, and where do I fine what I'm looking for on this site, I'm really not looking forward to it as I suffer with anxiety and depression  thank you
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Chris · 27 days ago
    Hi, I have cerebral palsy and receive the higher rate mobility and higher rate daily care.  Do I need to contact anybody to see if I meet the criteria for the severe disability group?
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    Noo · 1 months ago
    I  have a son who was diagnosed with autism at 15 by CAMHS (he dropped out of school at 14 no exams due to his autism anxiety agoraphobia)
     We did claim PIPS and EAS for a short while with the advice  of charity MIND .We had to fight for pips and it went to appal it was horrendous ! 
    He worked part time for a short while  (night shift picking i had to get up at 3 am to take him 3 nights a week and collect him ) he worked with a family member as his manager at Sainsbury’s but when she left he was unable to continue due to his autism and hasn't worked since .When it came to his review of pips before he started work ,we had to cancel a few home-visit appointments due to not being able to do face to face .Eventually he agreed to see one woman from capita ? In his bedroom hiding under his sheets he peeked out to confirm his identity and continued the meeting under the sheet. 
    I was and told to be quiet and let him speak , He attempted to tell her ,what he thought ,she wanted to hear like yes he gets dressed .But omitting only  three times a week without prompting numerous times.
    He was unsuccessful in the review, apparently he communicated well !! What a joke !!
    It all depends on who you get on the day and their level of understanding .We had to cancel the tutor we hired to help him gain some qualifications .
    He is still in the support group for esa and we have not tried to claim pips again .I am unwell myself i care for my disabled mother too and i cannot fight its too stressful he is 26 now ! All i hope is that its easier for people to claim .I worry who will fight for him when I'm no longer here .
    My son will never get better he has no input from anyone apart from recently i heard about social prescribing and enquired myself (odd phone call to myself they have never spoken or met him leaflets on what’s available in area were provided and up to me to sort it out ).
     He rarely goes to gp they originally wouldn’t even support pips with a letter as they said they don't know how he copes at home ,when he turned 18 adult mental health wouldn’t take over from CAMHS as said his mental heath wasn’t bad enough .
    Yes he's got a formal diagnosis to what level i have no idea apart from it being autism which greatly impacts on his life social and  mental wellbeing but he has no other input .
    Would he qualify i would hope so but i done hold out much hope !!!
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    VanillaOrchidae · 1 months ago
    In principle, I support fast tracking for severe disability, as it's a huge waste of resources for profoundly disabled people to be tested under the ridiculous pip criteria -- so long as this doesn't become a wedge leading to decline in finances given to those in support group or in enhanced pip groups.

    However, this should have had consultation with patient led groups, and patient focus groups (as well as front line medics who see patients daily). As the criterion used for some conditions is absurd and only used in say, peer review research, and not conventionally used in the UK medical system at all (eg, the cancer guidance is very strange).

    I would welcome the system becoming easier based upon secondary care specialists opinions.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Nikkimartian · 20 days ago
      @VanillaOrchidae Putting those who need full support for life for either should happen automatically, the stress involving in every assessment is appallong
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Collette · 1 months ago
    I think I would qualify.  I have osteoarthritis everywhere.  In my knees, hips, spine etc.  Hip and knee replacements will help to a certain extent, but will need multiple surgeries.  I have herniated discs in my neck and back.  I have non-essential tremors, with no treatment so they will get worse.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Suzanne · 1 months ago
    I am sure I would qualify, but as I am 75 this year I doubt very much that they would even consider me. I was on the highest DLA award and then moved to middle rate PIP mobility and care, because despite my sending detailed results of MRI s and XRays, they said my medication was enough to decide my Award. What utter rubbish!  In hindsight I should have appealed but the assessor who visited me had told a load of lies in her report so I didn’t appeal, but did ask to be looked at again a couple of years later. 
    During my next assessment they agreed I was much worse but couldn’t increase my Awards as I was now over 65 yrs old. 3 yrs later I fell and fractured a vertebrae and was put on Morphine. Last year 2023 I had another bad fall and now have multiple spinal fractures. I am now hunchbacked and in even more chronic pain. The spinal surgeon said there is nothing he can do as surgery would cause even more fractures. I have a carer who looks after me 24 hrs, and I am now severely disabled. However, in view of my age I am certain they won’t look at my case even though apparently I am to be reviewed in 2028. The system is flawed and very unfair. 
    I am certain there are many many people who qualify and I really hope they are successful. This Government has no empathy or care for disabled people. 

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    micky · 1 months ago
    i was receiving enhanced disability premium last year. when it ended in December 2023 i phoned to get it renewed. i was told i couldn't get it because i had my son registered as living with me. he doesn't pay any towards the rent or food as he only has a small part time job. he isn't claiming carers award or any benefits. D.W.P had all this information in my file before i got enhanced disability premium and nothing has changed in my circumstances apart from my disabilities as i have been diagnosed with cancer as well. i don't know about the disability group test (its just more forms to fill in) because at the end of the day they do what they like and to hell with who  they penalise.  
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    Jay · 1 months ago
    I think I would qualify as I had Triple Heart by pass four years ago and that has left me with unstable angina, Cardiologist says I am on all the medication for unstable Angina and there is nothing further he can do.I also have fibromyaligia and chronic pain ,for which I have treatment at pain clinic every six month to relieve the effects of the pain Again according to the pain consultant that all he can offer and there is no chance of cure.I will wait and see what happen as I am seventy four years old.I was on DLA but I to complete the PIP FORM to continue receive the benefit. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Ann s · 1 months ago
    I would qualify I am on enhanced  rate p.i.p I have c.o.p.d i suffer with my mental health they are dealing with my claim at the moment they have had  it 7months I am still being paid do you think it's a good time to ask them know
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Richard Gregory · 1 months ago
    I think I would probably qualify. Anything that can help ease the stress for those most affected by disability is a bonus. Let's see if it works, or if those dealing with it completely screw it up.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Anne · 1 months ago
    I would qualify
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Carol K · 1 months ago
    I think we would all consider ourselves eligible for the severe disability group but the DWP put up so many hoops for you to jump through that in the end there will be few who actually make it and the rest of us unworthy not-quite-disabled-enough will continue to suffer. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    keepingitreal · 1 months ago
    Reviewing the posts here it's no wonder dwp does not consult claimants before introducing new measures -there would be little support for this one, but the dwp doesn't take notice of our views. We have no influence on the policies which impact our lives.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Liz · 1 months ago
    I receive enhanced pip for both mobility and daily living, I also am in the UC lcwra.
    I have agoraphobia, emotionally unstable personality disorder, depression and anxiety. I went through a lot of sexual, mental and physical abuse from a baby up until I was 18. This is what has given me my personality disorder.

    I have 2 mental health nurses currently. I was sectioned in 2016 when I was diagnosed officially. I have seen a psychiatrist in the past. During COVID I was given 1 telephone appointment. 

    I was attacked by an illegal immigrant when I was 16 in a very bad way. So that's given me a fear of men, especially hearing a different accent. It may seem odd to some people but the trauma that has caused me is immense!! 

    That gave me the agoraphobia, I'm terrified to go out. If I have no choice then my husband has to be with me. I haven't gone out alone since I was 16, I'm 42 now. I didn't even manage to get to my nans funeral! I've been with my husband for 21 years now, he was a family friend that popped to my home and we clicked. In those 21 years, each year I would say I've gone out maybe 7 times. Never alone, always with him. I even have my curtains and blinds closed all the time because I'm scared of being seen.

    This news is scaring me. 
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    Gail · 1 months ago
    I think they haven’t thought about a group who meet the criteria but don’t have any involvement with one of the specialists able to confirm there condition and the fact it won’t change
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Cath H · 1 months ago
      @Gail I agree with you Gail. My partner is paraplegic with Rheumatoid arthritis in his hands arms and shoulders, is being monitored for cancer after having had a radical prostatectomy but is no longer having any contact with any of the specialists.
      When he was moved from DLA to PIP he had to get his MP involved as PIP declared that he was not eligible for any payments!
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Kim Richmond · 1 months ago
    I was in receipt of enhanced benefit for more than ten years after a life threatening operation linked to my incurable autoimmune condition. Subsequent to this I developed several other autoimmune diseases and had a partner to help me. My partner became mentally I’ll and abusive and I was advised to leave them for the sake of my own health. As soon as my award was due for reassessment both parry’s were reduced to standard even though I had help coming into my home. In order for me to reach my medical appointments at hospitals in Liverpool and Manchester I needed my car and only by a visit to my GP a year earlier for my memory loss was I awarded it on mandatory reconsideration. My condition has worsened but I am too weary to fight the DWP for enhanced daily living component. I very much doubt, even with my condition and Professor’s recommendation , that I would be awarded it as was told I could get my medication to my mouth! 
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