What happens if you are getting paid ESA and you have to move to Universal Credit? Will you be asked to go to another face to face assessment? Can you continue with "permitted work"? Read on to find out.....
What actually happens if you claim ESA and you have to transfer to Universal Credit?
We have decided to publish this article because we are seeing far to many instances of poor advice and information on ESA transfer to UC being given by "experts" on some Facebook groups and elsewhere on the internet. This particular aspect of UC seems to be rapidly becoming more complicated than quantum string theory if you believe some of the stuff that people are saying and writing about it. Please believe us, this is actually quite simple if you get your information from the right source ;)
It would be hard to miss the news about Universal Credit and as an ESA Claimant you may be wondering if this will ever apply to you. This blog will help you work out if it applies and what happens when it does.
I claim ESA. When will I move to Universal Credit?
If you claim ESA and you (or your partner) have a change in circumstances that means you would normally make a new claim for one of the following benefits and your area is full service Universal Credit, then you will be directed to claim Universal Credit.
We do advise you seek advice from one of our team before you make your claim because sometimes it isn’t always the best thing to do.
But I get CB ESA and I have been told that is not being replaced by Universal Credit?
It isn’t being replaced by Universal Credit but if you want to make a new claim for help with housing costs on a rented property then you will need to claim Universal Credit. CB ESA will be paid alongside the Universal Credit but UC will then become responsible for your future work capability assessments and award.
I get PIP/DLA/Carers Allowance and I got told I don’t have to claim Universal Credit in my area?
Once an area is full service then anyone in the area can apply for Universal Credit regardless of whether you meet the “gateway conditions” from before. Every month more and more postcodes are becoming full service and after then date you won’t be able to make a new claim for one of the old style benefits it replaces. You will be told to apply for Universal Credit and getting DLA or PIP or Carers Allowance will not make you exempt.
I am already in the support or wrag group of ESA. What will happen when I claim Universal Credit?
If you have a determined award for ESA immediately prior to claiming Universal Credit then “ESA Transition” will apply to you.
This means that if you are in the support group then LCWRA will be included in your claim.
If you are in the wrag group then LCW will be included in your claim.
What is LCWRA or LCW?
LCWRA is the new name for support group. On Universal Credit it is always called LCWRA.
LCWRA means “limited capability to work and work related activity”. It means that you don’t have to hand in sick notes and you will be placed in the no work group. You do not job search or attend work focused interviews.
LCW is the new name for wrag group. On Universal Credit it is always called LCW.
LCW means “limited capability to work”. It means you don’t have to hand in sick notes and you will be in the work preparation group. What you are asked to do should reflect your capabilities but should not include job searching.
Please note that LCW element is not in payment for new awards since April 2017. The benefit of being awarded LCW on Universal Credit after April 2017 (if ESA transition does not apply) is that there is a work allowance of £192 per month for claimants with LCW or children.
This means that the first £192 per month of your earnings does not reduce your award and can make you a little financially better off.
I need to claim Universal Credit because I need help with housing. Will I keep getting my ESA and get my housing paid from Universal Credit?
That depends on whether you claim Income Related ESA (IR-ESA) or Contribution based ESA (CB-ESA).
Income related ESA is replaced by Universal Credit so that would end when you claim.
Contribution based ESA is not replaced by ESA so will continue to be paid alongside Universal Credit as usual. It will be deducted though, £ for £, as it is an overlapping benefit.
Will I receive the same amount of money when moved over to Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is worked out entirely differently from the old system benefits so what you receive could be more or less. Many of our members are actually finding that they are better off on Universal Credit – equally though some are finding that they are worse off.
If you are moving over to Universal Credit anytime soon then you are moving over either voluntarily or because you had a change of circumstances (that you would have normally made a new claim for a benefit it replaces for) so your payments could be less. We will talk more about this later.
If you have no change in circumstances and you claim IR-ESA or another benefit it replaces (IR ESA, IB JSA, Income support or housing benefit) then at some point between 2019 and 2022, DWP will write to you inviting you to claim Universal Credit as your claims for the old system benefits will be ending. You will be given “transitional protection” on the amount you receive.
Some people are better off on Universal Credit than ESA
I know that may be hard to believe with the way the media portrays things but yes some people are better off on Universal Credit.
As we said Universal Credit is worked out entirely different but as an example;
On ESA support group some claimants receive £109.30 per week
On Universal Credit these claimants would receive £636.58 per month (£146.90 per week) which is in an increase of £37.60 per week.
What about the people that are worse off?
Unfortunately when they introduced Universal Credit they decided to do away with all the disability premiums including severe disability premium (worth £62.70 per week). So the main people are affected by the cuts are people that were previously entitled to ESA and disability benefits (DLA and PIP).
This situation could change in the future as a judge has recently allowed a man the right to launch a legal challenge against the introduction of the universal credit. The man bringing the case says he was left £178 a month worse off after being moved to the new benefit, due to him losing the payment of the disability premiums he had previously received.
A calculation of the effect of the scrapping of Severe Disability Premium shows that disabled adults with no one to care for them lose around £62.45 per week, or £3,247.40 a year, while the abolition of Enhanced DisabilityPremium will cost them £15.90 per week or £826.80 a year.
The judge has asked that the case be fast tracked into court and it is expected to be allocated a court hearing between March and July of this year.
If you are unsure of how much money you will get on Universal Credit, check out our UC calculation guide on our web site here people that have tried out our method for calculating a Universal Credit payment say that it is the easiest and most logical guide they have seen!
Worked examples of calculations and payment rates tables can be found in our Members Area, which is easy to join and can be found here
I have applied for Universal Credit and I was in the support group of ESA, yet I am being asked for a sick note by the job centre?
So as we said above, the support group award should follow you and become LCWRA on Universal Credit so you would think you don’t need a sick note.
Unfortunately it can take Universal Credit a good few weeks (with badgering) to do a 10 minute job and check the ESA system that you were in fact entitled to Support group.
In the meantime you need to tell Universal Credit that you have a health condition and that is going to mean they want to see a sick note. While technically you shouldn’t have to get a sick note we have found it is just easier if the claimant accepts that they need one and just hands it in. It easier all round and saves getting grief by staff who only go by the fact the computer asks them for one because they have a health condition.
So with the ESA transition of support/wrag group, is it all automatic?
As of February 2018, no it isn’t. Your case manager should be proactive and checking the system and applying it to your claim and your award should have the LCWRA/LCW included from the first month without you saying anything but it doesn’t happen like that.
Do not sit back and presume your case manager will manage to sort it without prompting. Write messages in your journal and call until you have it confirmed.
Speak to a member of our team in Universal Credit Essentials if you are having problems.
I am on ESA and get carers allowance. How will I be affected?
So on Universal Credit, one person cannot have LCW/LCWRA and carers element in payment. It is one or the other. So if both LCWRA/LCW and carers element apply to you, then only the higher one will be in payment.
I had to move on to Universal Credit because I was found fit to work on ESA.
We really strongly recommend that you get a written statement of reasons and copy of the assessors report from ESA and submit a mandatory reconsideration. Although you can’t get back on ESA if a new award is made, ESA transition can apply and you would be financially better off plus placed in the appropriate group.
When and how will I be reassessed?
Universal Credit have the right to start a reassessment whenever they see fit, after moving you over from ESA and transferring your ESA work group determination.
We have checked the regulations and, yes, the DWP can reassess you at any point after the transfer of your ESA work group determination - regardless of the amount time left on the original ESA award.
We are seeing a large number of cases where people are being sent new Work Capability Assessment questionnaires within 3-4 weeks of getting confirmation that their ESA work group determination has been transferred, so it could happen fast. Be prepared and try not to be surprised, as this practice is widespread across the country and not isolated.
The process is very similar. You still get a work capability questionnaire and you will probably have a face to face assessment and it all follows the same guidelines.
Can I continue with my permitted work?
On Universal Credit you can work but it does not come under the heading of “permitted work”.
If you have been not been assessed for work capability by Universal Credit or ESA then you can earn up to 16 hours per week at national minimum wage (any amount of earnings if in receipt of DLA, PIP, AA or can be treated as having LCWRA).
If you earn more than this while waiting for work capability assessment then your assessment will not be carried out.
Any earnings may affect your Universal Credit payment.
If you have already been assessed as having LCW or LCWRA then you can work/earn as much as you wish and still be awarded LCW or LCWRA.
Any earnings will affect your Universal Credit payment.
Your work does not have to be approved by a work coach.
My partner is on my ESA claim, will they be expected to work search now?
If you were assessed as unfit to work by ESA, when you move to Universal Credit then your partner may be expected to job search unless they are exempt for another reason (perhaps they are a carer to you?).
If they do not have their own reason to be exempt then they will be placed in the “all work group”.
If your partner has their own health condition then they can be referred for a work capability assessment and placed in either “no work group” or “work preparation group.
Only one element of LCW or LCWRA can in payment per joint claim.
I have PIP/DLA/AA so surely they know I am unfit to work so should be awarded LCW or LCWRA?
PIP, DLA and AA are benefits awarded because the claimant has difficulty in performing some aspects of daily living and are not about someone's ability to work. While often someone will be entitled to both, getting one of these disability benefits is not a passport to LCW or LCWRA.
So there you have it, all of the basic information that you will need to know to successfully navigate your way through a transfer from ESA to UC.
Like most stuff with UC, its not complicated, its just about knowing what needs to happen to make UC work. Remember, if you have read this and understood it, you will probably know more about this part of UC than most of the DWP staff you will encounter and you will certainly know more than the majority of "experts" in most of the Facebook benefits support groups!
Like what you have read here?
We would love it if you would share this article onto any benefit support groups that you are a member of, if only to demystify the subject of transferring from ESA to UC for as many people as possible. Imagine, how many people you could help, just by sharing this article!
The BASE adviser team will be happy to answer any questions you have on this article or any questions on other benefits that you need help and support with.
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