I've been told I must carry out work-related activity while claiming my benefit, is this right and can I appeal?

If you have a disability or illness that affects your ability to work, you may still be required to do work-related activity while claiming either Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance. The expectation is that you will at some point be ready to return to work.

It may be correct to place you in the group that has to do work-related activity according to the benefit rules and the outcome of your work capability assessment.

Blind or partially sighted people are not automatically placed into the group of claimants who do not have to do any work-related activity. However, if you are unable to read braille or size 16 print, or are deafblind, or have disabilities in addition to sensory impairment, this makes it more likely that you won't have to do any activities while claiming your benefit.

In 2023, the chancellor announced plans to scrap the WCA entirely. Instead, UC will feature a new ‘health element’ which will be available to some people who are in receipt of Personal Independence Payment (PIP). These changes are planned to be implemented between 2026 and 2029. For the time being the WCA remains in place.

The government have also recently announced changes to the way the WCA works, including some significant changes to some of the descriptors. These changes are not planned to take place before April 2025.

Challenge a decision

You can challenge the decision that is made following a work capability assessment, if you are unhappy with it or feel that it is wrong. The rules are different, depending on whether you had a work capability assessment as part of a claim for UC or for ESA.

For UC, you will need to ask for a 'mandatory reconsideration' of the decision, and if you are not happy with the outcome of the mandatory reconsideration decision, apply for an appeal.

For ESA, you can sometimes forgo the requirement to ask for a mandatory reconsideration and proceed straight to an appeal. This is so that you can continue to receive ESA whilst you await your appeal (rather than have to claim UC instead, from which you can’t return). Please seek advice if you are unsure as to whether to request a mandatory reconsideration or not.

You should challenge the decision as soon as possible if you are not happy, and you must normally ask for a mandatory reconsideration or appeal within one month of the decision.

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