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Incapacity Benefit is Changing. How will you be affected?

What is happening at the moment?

What happens next?

What’s the most important thing to remember?

The government have said that they expect 70% of ESA claimants will lose some benefit…is this true?

My health is deteriorating and I won’t be able to carry on working much longer. What should I do?

Where can I find independent information about the Employment and Support Allowance and the Work Capability Assessment?

What is happening at the moment?

The government is moving claimants of Incapacity Benefit onto a new version of these benefits called Employment and Support Allowance.

Employment and Support Allowance is for people who are unable to look for work or work due to a disability or health problem. To get this benefit you will have to fill out a medical questionnaire (form ESA50) and have to have a medical assessment called the Work Capability Assessment. You may need some advice and assistance when filling out the medical questionnaire. Please refer to the ‘Opening Hours’ button on the left of our homepage to find ways of getting advice.

If you are assessed as unable to work or look for work you will be placed into one of two groups – the Work Related Activity Group or the Support Group. Please look at the link below for more details about these groups.

If you are assessed as fit for work and you do not agree with this you will have the opportunity to appeal or challenge this decision and you should still receive payment of your benefit whilst you are appealing. You may need advice again at this point to help you prepare for your appeal. As above please refer to the ‘Opening Hours’ button on the left of our homepage to find ways of getting advice.

If you agree with the decision you will be placed onto the Jobseeker’s Allowance benefit if you are eligible for this benefit. Eligibility for Jobseekers Allowance is based on a number of factors including income, savings and partner’s hours of work.

The new system will look like this:

Able to work and look for work – Jobseeker’s Allowance

Able to complete training with a view to returning to work in the future - Employment and Support Allowance Work Related Activity Component

Unable to work or complete training with a view to working in the future– Employment and Support Allowance Support Group

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What happens next?

You should receive a letter from the Jobcentre telling you about these changes and a phone call also explaining this.

We have been told that the Jobcentres in Leeds have started making these calls but it will take some time for them to get through all of the Incapacity Benefit claimants.

After your phone call you will be sent the medical questionnaire (form ESA 50) and when this is completed you will be asked to attend a medical assessment (Work Capability Assessment).

What’s the most important thing to remember?

Don’t panic – you’re not going to find that your benefits have stopped overnight without any warning.

Don’t ignore any letters you get about your benefits. It is important that you complete the medical questionnaire and return it by the deadline and that you attend your medical assessment as your benefits may stop if you do not do this.

Get advice – you may need some help with this process, particularly with the medical questionnaires and appeal.

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The government have said that they expect 70% of ESA claimants will lose some
benefit; is this true?

The statistics released by the government recently come from a trial project they ran to see what would happen when they transferred claimants of Incapacity Benefit onto Employment and Support Allowance.

At this trial a third of people were moved off Incapacity Benefit and onto Jobseekers Allowance.

We are also unclear how many of these people have challenged the decision to take them off of Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance.

The remaining two thirds of people appear to have been transferred from Incapacity Benefit to the new benefit Employment and Support Allowance. The government tells us that 38% of these people have been found fit to complete work related activity and therefore they have been put into the Work Related Activity Group of Employment and Support Allowance.

It seems that the rest of the people have been put into the Support Group of Employment and Support Allowance.

My health is deteriorating and I won’t be able to carry on working much longer. What should I do?

Get advice – you may be able to get Statutory Sick Pay from your employer or be eligible for Employment and Support Allowance and Disability Living Allowance from the Jobcentre.

Please go to the link below for more information about these benefits and Statutory Sick Pay and click on the ‘Opening Hours’ button on the left of our homepage to find out when and how you can get advice.

Where can I find independent information about the Employment and Support Allowance and the Work Capability Assessment?

http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/index/b_employment_and_support_allowance.pdf

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  Leeds Citizens Advice Bureau
Charity Registration Number: 700314
Company Limited by Guarantee
Registered Number: 2228358
Registered office: Westminster Buildings, 31 New York Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS2 7DT