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DWP Deny WCA To Disabled Students Claiming UC

May 25, 2017

With many thanks to Disability Rights UK.

The DWP has confirmed to DR UK that it will not enable disabled students claiming Universal Credit (UC) to have the opportunity of a work capability assessment (WCA).

In most cases, this means that their claim for Universal Credit will be immediately refused.

Under Employment Support Allowance (ESA), a disabled student can be treated as having a limited capability for work and entitled to ESA if they receive DLA or PIP.

However, a disabled student must not only receive DLA or PIP but also have a limited capability for work to be entitled to UC.

A disabled student can only be “treated as having a limited capability for work” under UC in very restricted circumstances.

But most disabled students will not otherwise be able to show that they have a limited capability for work as they will be denied a WCA.

DR UK contacted the DWP to ask if a disabled student’s UC claim could be held at least until a WCA had taken place.

It replied that:

“Your understanding of Regulation 41 in the Universal Credit Regulations 2013 is correct: a person who meets entitlement conditions for UC is referred for a work capability assessment where appropriate. 

As the work capability assessment is not part of determining whether a person is entitled to UC, determining entitlement to UC cannot be delayed until a person has had a work capability assessment.”

Ken Butler DR UK’s Welfare Right’s Adviser said:

“We are concerned that the UC system does not allow a disabled student to be assessed as to their limited capability for work.

It puts them in a Catch 22 situation – they cannot be entitled to UC unless they have a WCA but they cannot have a WCA unless they are entitled to UC.

There seems no justification for replacing ESA rules by stricter UC ones given that other financial support for disabled students has not increased to compensate for this.”

Liz Sayce DR UK’s CEO said:

“Only 16% of disabled people have a degree level qualification compared to 30% of non-disabled people.

We are concerned that the current UC position could act as a financial barrier to disabled people accessing higher education and bar for some accessing residential college if they are unable to access UC housing costs support.”

ESA and Housing Benefit are being replaced by Universal Credit as it is rolled out across the UK.

If a disabled student is not eligible for Universal Credit they will not get help with extra living costs or rent.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 25, 2017 1:46 pm

    I would have thought that a STUDENT is still in full time education so not able to claim UC or ESA they would be getting money by means of a student loan so you are either a STUDENT or you are not you cannot claim UC(WCA) and have a loan for university.

  2. May 25, 2017 8:28 pm

    You even try claiming ESA as a disabled student (I am not in a UC area), I don’t know how many times I explained to them that I am automatically classified as having “limited capability for work” as I am a full time disabled student in receipt of DLA.

    They said yes, then they said I had to file a sick note.

    I asked, are you aware that it normally takes a decision maker and possibly a face to face WCA to decide if a claimant is of “limited capability to work”.

    They said “yes”.

    So you understand that if the law already defines them “of limited capability to work”, that they do not have to file a fit note, as that is only done until a claimant is defined as being “of limited capability for work”?

    They said “I have worked as a manager for several years in this department (ESA) and everybody has to file a fit note until they attend their WCA”.

    They terminated my claim (again!)

    For 2 years now I should have been getting a £2K to £3K ESA top up to my grants and loans, but the DWP are repeatedly refusing to comply with the law.

    Also for claimants like this, the WCA only decides what level, not if you qualify or not.


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