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Guidance on Work Capability Assessment reassessment published

06 October 2017

 DWP reveal how it will decide not to carry out WCA reassessments.

DWP Guidance:

  • Severe Conditions guidance (word and pdf)
  • Lines to Take / Frequently Asked Questions (word and pdf)
  • ESA – Treatment of claimants with the most severe and lifelong health conditions or disabilities (word and pdf)

Severe Conditions Prognosis/Re-referral Guidance at WCA Face to Face Assessments and Filework

  • Distance Learning (word and pdf)
  • CSL Support Scenarios (word and pdf)

On 29 September 2017, the DWP announced that ESA claimants in the support group and universal credit claimants with limited capability for work and work-related activity (LCWRA) will no longer need to be reassessed if they:

  • have a severe, lifelong disability, illness or health condition
  • are unlikely to ever be able to move into work

Claimants will be told if they will not be reassessed following their WCA.

DR UK were one of several disability charities that took part in discussions on changing the reassessment criteria. See our statement and reservations about these changes

The DWP has now published the final versions of the “severe conditions” healthcare professional (HCP) guidance and criteria, their training guide and case scenario’s (see above).

The new DWP Severe Conditions Guidance says that:

“The new re-referral period will apply to those with LCWRA ONLY. If a claimant has LCW but not LCWRA, the process remains as now.”

To avoid a reassessment, claimants will have to satisfy, all four of the following:

  1. the level of function will always meet LCWRA criteria;
  2. the condition will always be present (some lifelong conditions are present from birth, but others will develop or be acquired later in life);
  3. no realistic prospect of recovery of function (with advice on this being based on currently available treatment and not on the prospect of scientists discovering a cure in the future);
  4. unambiguous condition (following all relevant clinical investigations a recognised medical diagnosis has been made).

If all the above four criteria and any of the LCWRA criteria are met, the HCP is to advise the decision maker that the claimant has a Severe Condition and has LCWRA.

Examples of conditions that might meet all four criteria are given as:

  • Motor Neurone Disease (MND);
  • severe and progressive forms of MS, Parkinson’s;
  • all dementias;
  • Huntington’s;
  • severe irreversible cardiorespiratory failure; and
  • severe acquired brain injury.

However, the guidance does makes clear that “this list is not exhaustive”.

In terms of making a no reassessment recommendation, the DWP says:

“Where further evidence is considered necessary to enable advice regarding review or no review for a longer term prognosis further medical evidence review should always be chosen. As per current process only one request for written medical evidence should normally be made and at review only one telephone attempt to chase the evidence is required.

If the claimant or their representative needs to be contacted for further evidence then a maximum of two telephone calls should be made. These should be documented on an FRR4. If the evidence is not available, you cannot advise that the claimant has a Severe Condition and normal filework case control action applies.

Filework HCPs should not default to calling a claimant to an assessment if the evidence required to meet the criteria is not available. If at filework a HCP feels that enough evidence is available on which a LCWRA ‘in the longer term’ recommendation can be made, but is unable to make a recommendation based on the Severe Conditions criteria, the advice is that they do not seek to call for exam but instead make a paper-based recommendation that change is not expected ‘in the longer-term’.

The reason being that DWP believes that to increase the burden on this group of claimants would be unnecessary and go against the spirit of the policy announcement.”

The principles behind the changes to reassessment criteria are to:

  • reduce any unnecessary disruption caused to claimants by a repeat assessment when we do not expect re-assessments to tell us anything new for the purposes of administering their benefit.
  • reduce the burden placed on claimants to continue to produce evidence confirming the impact of a health condition or disability
  • reduce the need for the Department or CHDA to conduct unnecessary assessments when resource could be better focused.

 DWP Severe prognosis guidance distance learning