Health conditions, disability and Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a monthly payment to help with your living costs. You may be able to get it if you’re on a low income or out of work.

Find out if you’re eligible for Universal Credit.

This guide is also available in Welsh (Cymraeg).

If you live in Northern Ireland, go to Universal Credit in Northern Ireland.

If you have a health condition or disability

You might get an extra amount of Universal Credit if you have a health condition or disability that prevents you from working or preparing for work.

Your monthly payment is based on your circumstances, for example your health condition or disability, income and housing costs.

If you made a new Universal Credit claim on or after 3 April 2017 and have limited capability for work, you will not get the extra amount.

You may also be eligible for ‘new style’ Employment and Support Allowance.

Terminal illness

If you’re terminally ill, you may get extra money for Universal Credit.

If you’re making a new claim, you can declare this during your application. If you’ve already made a claim, you’ll need to report this as a change of circumstances.

Once you’ve done this, you’ll find out if you need to have a Work Capability Assessment.

If you get the severe disability premium and are moving to Universal Credit

If you get, or are entitled to, the severe disability premium you may be able to get ‘transitional protection’ if you move to Universal Credit.

This is an extra payment to help with your move to Universal Credit. Most people will get this automatically but some will need to claim it.

Eligibility

You’ll get this payment if all the following apply:

  • you (or your partner) were entitled to Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • you got the severe disability premium within the month immediately before the first day of your Universal Credit award
  • you’re still eligible for the severe disability premium at the start of your Universal Credit claim
  • you’ve not joined an existing Universal Credit claim

What you’ll get

If you’re single you’ll get:

  • £120, if the ‘limited capability for work and work-related activity’ element is included in the award
  • £285, if the ‘limited capability for work and work-related activity’ element is not included in the award

If you’re in a couple you’ll get:

  • £405, if you were getting the higher severe disability premium rate
  • £120, if you were getting the lower severe disability premium rate and the ‘limited capability for work and work-related activity’ element is included in the award for either member of the couple
  • £285, if you were getting the lower severe disability premium rate and the ‘limited capability for work and work-related activity’ element is not included in the award

Transitional protection reduces over time by the amount of any increase in your Universal Credit. This does not include any increase to pay for childcare costs.

It will end if any of the following apply:

  • you’re a single claimant and you start living with your partner
  • you stop living with your partner
  • your Universal Credit increases by more than the transitional protection amount
  • your earnings fall below the Administrative Earnings Threshold (AET) for more than 3 assessment periods (the AET is £343 per month for an individual and £549 per month for a couple)
  • your Universal Credit claim ends

If your Universal Credit stops for less than 3 months because your earnings are too high, you may get transitional protection again when your claim restarts.

How to claim

You’ll automatically get a transitional protection payment, if you’re entitled to it, when you claim Universal Credit. This will appear in your Universal Credit account.

You’ll need to make a claim if you were previously in a couple and your former partner was entitled to a severe disability premium as part of a claim for Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance.

You must make a claim within one month of separating from your partner.

Claim your transitional protection payment by either:

Work Capability Assessment

When you apply for Universal Credit, you’ll be asked if you have a health condition or disability that affects your ability to work. If you do, you’ll be asked to complete an assessment form and provide medical evidence.

You’ll then be told if you need an appointment for a Work Capability Assessment. This is to see how much your illness or disability affects your ability to work. The assessment can be either in person, by video call or on the phone. If you need an appointment, you’ll get a letter telling you what you need to do.

If you’re asked to attend in person you’ll be told how to do this safely because of coronavirus (COVID-19). You can bring one adult from your household with you.

If your assessment takes place by phone or video call, you can have someone else with you, for example a friend or support worker. Ask the assessor to call them if they’re not with you when the assessment starts.

You can ask for your assessment to be recorded. If you would like this, tell the Health Assessment Advisory Service using the contact details in your appointment letter.

Until a decision can be made on your Work Capability Assessment, you’ll either:

  • get the standard allowance, if you’re making a new claim
  • continue getting the same Universal Credit amount, if you’re reporting a change of circumstances

Find out how much Universal Credit you’ll get.

How the assessment affects your claim

Based on the outcome of your assessment, you’ll either:

  • be fit for work
  • have limited capability for work - you cannot work now, but you can prepare to work in the future, for example by writing a CV
  • have limited capability for work and work related activity - you cannot work now and you’re not expected to prepare for work in the future

If you’re fit for work, you’ll need to agree to look for work that is suitable for your health condition, and be prepared to work.

If you have limited capability for work, your work coach will discuss your situation and agree steps to help you start preparing for work.

You’ll get extra money if you have limited capability for work and work related activity. You do not need to look for work or prepare for work. Find out how much Universal Credit you’ll get.

Your responsibilities

You’ll need to agree to do certain things to keep getting Universal Credit. This is known as your ‘Claimant Commitment’.

Your commitment is based on your situation and may be affected by the outcome of your Work Capability Assessment.

Changes to your circumstances

You must report any change of circumstances straight away, including:

  • changes to your condition, for example it gets better or worse
  • a new health condition
  • any other changes, such as finding a job or moving in with a partner

How starting work affects your claim

You may still get Universal Credit if your condition changes and you can start working again.

Your payment will not change until you earn over a certain amount.

Speak to your work coach or use a benefits calculator to find out how starting work could affect your Universal Credit payment.

Other support you can get

If you’re claiming Universal Credit, you may also get help with housing costs and childcare costs.

Use a benefits calculator to find out what other benefits you can claim at the same time, for example Personal Independence Payment.

You might also get other financial support, for example free prescriptions.