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Treated as having a limited capability for work

You will be automatically treated as having a limited capability for work, without having to score 15 points, in the following circumstances:

  • You are terminally ill. This is defined as a progressive disease and death in consequence of that disease can reasonably be expected within six months.

  • You are receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer (or are likely to receive it within six months), or you are recovering from that treatment and the DWP is satisfied that you should be treated as having a limited capability for work.

  • You have been given official notice not to work because you have been in contact with an infectious disease or contamination.

  • You are pregnant and there would be a serious risk to the health of you or your child if you did not refrain from work.

  • You are being treated in a hospital or similar institution (including residential rehabilitation for treatment of drug or alcohol addiction), having been medically advised to stay there for at least 24 hours. The DWP may also treat you as having a limited capability for work on any day you are recovering from such treatment.

  • You are receiving regular weekly haemodialysis for chronic renal failure, plasmapheresis or regular weekly total parenteral nutrition [being fed through a vein, instead of eating] for gross impairment of enteric function. The DWP may also treat you as having a limited capability for work during any week in which you have a day of recovery from such treatment. However, for employment and support allowance (ESA) you will only be treated as having a limited capability for work from the first week in which at least two days of that week are days of treatment or recovery (these days do not have to be consecutive).

You may be treated as having a limited capability for work if you have coronavirus or self-isolate during the pandemic, or if you are caring for a child or qualifying young person who has coronavirus or needs to self-isolate. You will need to provide supporting medical evidence, though the usual fit note is not needed. If you are getting universal credit, contact your work coach through your online journal to explain your situation.  

Additional circumstances: universal credit

For universal credit, you will also be treated as having a limited capability for work if you have reached pension age and are entitled to either disability living allowance or personal independence payment. 

Additional circumstances: ESA

For ESA, you will also be treated as having a limited capability for work in the following circumstances:

  • You satisfy either descriptor 15 (conveying food or drink to the mouth) or 16 (chewing of swallowing food or drink) in the limited capability for work-related activity assessment

  • You are pregnant or have recently given birth, are entitled to maternity allowance and are within the maternity allowance payment period.

  • You are pregnant or have recently given birth but are not entitled to maternity allowance or statutory maternity pay from six weeks before the baby is due to two weeks after the birth.

  • You are a student in full-time education (and not a ‘qualifying young person’ for child benefit purposes) entitled to income-related ESA because you get disability living allowance, personal independence payment or armed forces independence payment.        

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