What will benefits reform mean for me: Incapacity benefits reassessment

If you receive Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance or Income Support paid on the grounds of illness or disability your benefits will be reassessed by March 2014.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is carrying out the reassessments to see if people who are currently claiming benefits are fit for work or if they should be moved onto a different benefit.

What can I expect?

Jobcentre Plus will contact you when your benefit is due to be reassessed. You should get a letter, they will then phone you to make sure you have received the letter, that you understand what you need to do, and to see if you need any more help.

I’ve got my letter, now what?

You will be sent a questionnaire to fill out and return. The questionnaire asks about how your condition or disability impacts on how you live your life and carry out everyday tasks. This will be used to decide if you need a face-to-face assessment. There will also be a chance for you to submit evidence to back up your questionnaire. Any evidence from your doctor or consultant is very important and will be fully considered.

It is really important that you complete and return your questionnaire, if you don’t your benefit may be affected.

If you’re worried about filling in your questionnaire Jobcentre Plus can help, however they can only write down exactly what you answer to the questions asked.

If you would help from an independent adviser, go to http://advicefinder.turn2us.org.uk/ to find someone near you

What happens at the assessment?

A healthcare professional will look at your questionnaire. If they think they need more information to make a decision, you will be given a face-to-face assessment.

The assessment will mostly focus on what you can do, instead of what you can’t.

They will look at how well you can do things like walk, sit and stand, use your hands, see and hear.

If you have a mental health condition, they will look at how it might impact on your mood, behaviour and day to day life.

A friend, relative or representative can attend the assessment with you for support.

You must go to the assessment and take part fully, or your benefit may be affected.

The decision

The healthcare professional who carried out your assessment will send a report of their findings to Jobcentre Plus.

The information from the questionnaire, along with the face-to-face assessment and any other evidence, will be used to decide if you will receive Employment and Support Allowance.

Jobcentre Plus will telephone you, let you know of their decision and explain what you need to do next. If you are eligible for Employment and Support Allowance, your benefit will be transferred automatically. You should get confirmation in writing after the phone call along with advice on different allowances and conditions.

If it is deemed that you are not eligible for Employment Support Allowance, Jobcentre Plus will telephone you to explain why they think this. You will be given a chance to submit any further information or evidence before they make a decision. If, after this, it is decided that you are still not eligible for Employment and Support Allowance, Jobcentre Plus will discuss your options with you. You should be sent a letter confirming the decision. 

I don’t agree with the decision on my benefit, can I appeal?

Yes. To appeal you must contact Jobcentre Plus within one calendar month from the date of the decision letter and explain why. Don’t delay, if you wait longer than a month Jobcentre Plus might not be able to help.

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