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Incapacity Benefits Migration


Between October 2010 and March 2014 existing incapacity benefits claimants (those on incapacity benefit, severe disablement allowance and income support on disability grounds) will be reassessed under the employment and support allowance (ESA) Work Capability Assessment (WCA) instead of the Personal Capability Assessment.

Key aspects of migration

  • The linking rules for IB/IS were abolished from 31January 2011.

  • If you are migrated onto ESA, after April 2012, are placed in the work related activity group and are only entitled to Contributory ESA when you migrate, you will be paid ESA for a year and then this will cease. If you are migrated before April 2012 you will receive Contributory ESA for a period of 12 months less any time that you were on ESA before April 2012.

  • If you are placed in the support group you will not have your Contributory ESA time limited.

  • No new claim will be required for the move to ESA, the process will be triggered by a notice to the customer.

  • The date of a customer’s re-assessment will be based on the review date of their Personal Capability Assessment.

  • People who reach State Pension Age during this reassessment period 2010-2014 will not be reassessed to avoid having to change benefits twice in a short period.

  • Where possible, the DWP will use existing data held for IB/IS to determine entitlement to ESA.

  • DWP has pledged to help customers adapt to their new circumstances and ensure continuity of payment is maintained.

  • Existing incapacity benefits will continue to be paid to the day before the change.

  • Where people who are eligible for ESA receive more on existing incapacity benefits than the appropriate ESA rate, their existing rate of benefit will be frozen at the point of conversion.

  • Where people who are eligible for ESA receive less on incapacity benefits than the appropriate ESA rate, their benefit will immediately be increased to the ESA rate on conversion.

  • All claims to incapacity benefits on or after 31 January 2011 will be treated as new ESA claims - there will be no link to earlier claims for incapacity benefits.

  • Appeals may be brought against the decision not to award ESA as a result of failure to meet the WCA threshold.

  • ESA will be paid at the same rate as for new ESA claims where a person is appealing against a decision that they are not entitled because of not meeting the WCA threshold.

  • DWP have amended Housing Benefit (HB) / Council Tax Benefit (CTB) Regulations to ensure that the majority of customers will see no reduction in their overall benefit income solely because of this change (however, some Child Dependency Allowance customers may be affected by the change). See more information below.

  • The Work Focused Health Related Assessment (WFHRA) element of the WCA will be suspended for a period of 2 years. This will provide DWP with an opportunity to reconsider the WFHRA’s purpose and delivery. It will also improve the capacity to focus on and manage this change.

Timetable for migration

IB migration trials started in Aberdeen and Burnley from October 2010 using a sample of 1,700 claimants. 

The main-roll out of migration of claimants from IB/income-related Income Support onto ESA began on 28 February 2011 and is due to finish in March 2014, though ndications are that not everyone will have been migrated by that date.

"At the end of February, we will begin this introductory phase. Letters will be sent to 1,000 customers a week nationally, marking the commencement of their reassessment. So a total of around 300 people will be assessed in each reassessment centre over this period. In April, we will step up the implementation and increase the number of cases to around 7,000 a week. From May we will be processing the full case load of around 11,000 cases per week. This steady ramp up of activity will ensure that Jobcentre Plus and its partners are ready and can deal with the volume of cases as it builds. Customers' reactions to the changes will be closely monitored and lessons applied."

[Source Hansard 25 Jan 2011 : Column 6WS ]

People reaching state pension age between these two dates will be excluded from the migration. This is the only group exempt from migration so far .

Arguments were put forward to move the Personal Capability Assessment exempt groups (about 30% of IB/IS claimants) onto the ESA Support Group but these were rejected. ESA will also be taxable which will affect pre-1995 tax exempt claimants of IB and SDA.

For more information on the incapacity benefits migration timetable see the DWP website at www.dwp.gov.uk/adviser/updates/ib-reassessing-claims/.

The DWP have produced a factsheet, Reassessing incapacity benefit customers, available at www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/ib-reassessment-customer-factsheet.pdf.

Changes to the law

  • The Employment and Support Allowance (Transitional Provisions, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit) (Existing Awards) (No. 2) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/1907) make transitional provision for the movement of benefit claims from incapacity benefit (IB), income support (IS) paid on grounds of incapacity and severe disablement allowance (SDA) to employment and support allowance (ESA).

The Regulations also make related amendments to the rules for housing benefit council tax benefit.

  • The Employment and Support Allowance (Transitional Provisions, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit) (Existing Awards) (No. 2) (Amendment) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/2430) coming into effect on 1 November 2010, are designed to 'further clarify the policy intent' of the exercise to reassess those receiving incapacity benefits using the work capability assessment, as well as to correct drafting errors contained in SI 2010/1907. SR 2010/347 makes similar provision in Northern Ireland. The DWP has also issued guidance (Memo DMG 51/10) in relation to SI 2010/1907 and SI 2010/2430.

The DWP has also issued guidance to local authority housing benefit departments regarding transitional rules protecting levels of housing benefit and council tax benefit when claimants are migrated from incapacity benefits to employment and support allowance (HB/CTB Circular A14/2010).

  • SI 2010/1905 allows regulations to make provision for converting awards of incapacity benefit, severe disablement allowance and income support on disability grounds into awards of an employment and support allowance, or terminating such existing awards), and also allows regulations to make provision in relation to aspects of awards of an employment and support allowance following their conversion from existing awards, such as their review or termination.

New WCA regulations

The Employment and Support Allowance (Limited Capability for Work and Limited Capability for Work- Related Activity) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 (SI 2011/228) amend Schedules 1 and 2 of the Employment and Support Regulations 2008 from 28 March 2011. These schedules respectively contain the rules for the limited capability for work test and the limited capability for work related activity test.

The effect of migration

If you are found to have a limited capability for work in this assessment, you will be moved (migrated) onto ESA but of those found fit for work the Government expects that:

  • 50% will move onto jobseekers allowance.
  • 20% will move on to another benefit (e.g. income support, carers allowance or re-claim ESA)
  • 30% will move off benefits altogether.

(source paragraph 24 of the SSAC impact assessment – Annex A of ssac consultation on draft regulations).

Your thoughts on IB migration

Disability Alliance asked for your opinion on IB migration. Thanks to all those who filled out the brief questionnaire. Here is a selection of your answers:

  1. I am worried sick, waking at night worrying about money and me and my husband will cope. Worked since 15, now 56, disabled all my life, medically retired last year, then this happens, ESA stopping after 12 months.

  2. typical Tory behaviour, everyone on benefits considered a waster and scrounger by these people. Scary! Poorly thought out, feels rushed and is causing untold misery to thousands if not eventually millions of people. Doncaster BDC is one of the worst in England for unlawful discrmination and lies.

  3. It seems pretty obvious that this proposal is designed purely to save money rather than help people with disabilities. What is being done to stop the widespread discrimination by many employers who will not even consider a disabled applicant?

  4. Am quite concerned about it all although after reading some parts of your website today I was greatly relieved to see that the date I will likely be reassessed will be the same date I would have been reassessed under the old IB system which is approx. Spring 2013 for me.

  5. I am really terrified. I suffer from long term depression and have applied for many jobs but employers do not want to know you when there is a history of depression. Things will be even worse now that there are no jobs to apply for. I am worried that these proposals are being applied too hastily applied & not sufficiently thought out.

  6. My wife has an award of SDA for life, as per a Disability Tribunal. A Tribunal award should be carried-over under the new system.

  7. I am an appeals worker. We have two particular concerns - one is the number of IB claimants with severe mental illness or disability who will be required to go through the assessment procedure for the first time, having previously been exempt. Many of them will struggle to engage with the assessment process and are highly likely to come off benefit as a result. The other concern is the number of IB claimants who will lose Contributory ESA, once migrated, after the relevant 12 month period, and who will not then qualfiy for income related ESA due to having a partner working, income or capital.

  8. Disgraceful. Just a cost-cutting exercise. The worst aspect is proposals to time limit contributory to one year only. Can disability alliance not contend this, please?

  9. This is basically a witch hunt on the sick and disabled and has nothing to do with trying to improve our quality of life and everything to do with the coalition being able to say that they have cut sick benefits by 30 to 40 %. with the terrible way the governments partner ATOS is behaving and the decisions they are making they will achieve this percentage plus another 20 % by causing the death of sick and disabled people due to stress and worry.

  10. My principal objection is that the ATOS testing is rigged. If it was a genuinely fair system I wouldn't worry too much, but it isn't. As someone already with large permanent health problems, I don't need this extra worry.

  11. I think it is a cynical attempt to save money and punish those are genuinely ill.

  12. I am so frightened by these changes. I'm 56 and I feel under threat of losing the benefits which help me to cope with life. If I am moved off Income Support and expected to find a job, I fear that I will not cope. I suffer from depression and I can feel my condition getting worse from worrying about this.

  13. I am extremely concerned about the changes to IB payments as I have rheumatoid arthritis and very limited mobility yet feel fear that my health condition is not "severe" enough to continue receiving my benefits.

  14. I am very concerned about the end to linking rules. Surely this will discourage people from attempting work. I know it has discouraged me!

  15. Complicated costly and unfair way to scrape small amount of money from the poor and vulnerable. Blatant miss use of power to pick on the voiceless. Why not change the tax credit system and stop giving money to the noisy nosy untouchable middle class.

  16. I am very concerned about how these changes will affect my husband, I am his full time carer for 12 years now. He suffers from Chronic Paranoid Schizophrenia and is on 2 anti psychotic medications at the moment. He has suffered from this mental illness for the last 13 years and has been on DLA for around 10 years and Income support for the last 13 years since the illness started. Prior to this he was in the army. Will he be expected to start work after all this time, despite the effects of his illness and it's medication - if yes this could cause his illness to relapse as he is very vulnerable to any anxiety, stress or change.

  17. To now face the prospect of being reassessed on the ESA criteria fills me with horror as I worry it will not take into account my mental health issues, that it will mean that if I do get ESA that it will stop after a year and that I will not be able to manage. I really can't cope with full time work as the last time I worked 9 to 5 I had a complete breakdown and tried to commit suicide.

  18. I have been receiving Incapacity Benefit for 12 years, following a back injury whilst employed as a nurse in the NHS. I'm very concerned that ESA will be contribution-based for only one year, as announced in the Spending Review. I will have a little income from lodgers at the time of migration, and fear losing ESA if it becomes means-tested.

  19. My previous experience of ATOS assessments have revealed them to be clearly biased and weighted in favour of cost cutting rather than true claimant capability.

  20. I think that it is very unfair that the government is planning to change the WCA regulation as to make it harder for wheelchair users to claim Employment and Support Allowance Under the new regulations that are to come into force in February /March wheelchair users will no longer automatically qualify for the benefit and will have to claim job seekers allowance or income support instead Some severely disabled people will not qualify for theses benefits so in effect they will have no income or their income is reduced I feel that we should fight these changes to the WAC otherwise some severely disabled people will end up living in more poverty than they do at present Which I will be one of them

6 January 2014