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Benefits if you are ill or disabled – changes you need to know about

Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance and Income Support paid because of illness or disability are being phased out. If you get one of these benefits your claim will be reviewed to see if you're capable of work or can get other benefits. Find out how your claim will be reviewed.

What is changing

The following benefits are being phased out:

  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support paid because of an illness or disability
  • Severe Disablement Allowance

If you are getting any of these benefits, your claim will be reviewed to see if you can get Employment and Support Allowance instead.

If you live abroad

You will also have your claim reviewed if you live abroad and are getting either:

  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Severe Disablement Allowance

Find out how your claim will be reviewed if you live abroad using the following link.

Who is not affected

This change will not affect you if:

What you need to do

The Social Security Agency will write to you when your benefit claim is going to be reviewed. Not everyone will be contacted at the same time. This process started in February 2011 and is expected to be completed in 2014.

Contacting the Social Security Agency

There is no need to contact the Social Security Agency.

The Social Security Agency will phone to check that you have received the letter telling you that your claim is going to be reviewed.

This will give you a chance to:

  • ask any questions you might have about the review
  • tell the Social Security Agency if you need any extra help

Until your claim is reviewed you will continue to get your current benefit, as long as you still meet the conditions for that benefit.

How your claim will be reviewed

Questionnaire

The Social Security Agency will send you a questionnaire to complete. This questionnaire will ask about how your long term health condition or disability affects your ability to complete everyday tasks.

You must complete this questionnaire with as much detail as possible and return it by the date requested. If you do not, your benefit may be affected.

Work Capability Assessment

The information you give will help to decide if you need to attend a face-to-face assessment. This assessment will help find out:

  • what you are able to do
  • whether you might be capable of work

If you are asked to attend an assessment, you must go and take part fully. If you do not, your benefit may be affected.

What happens after your claim has been reviewed

If you are able to work

If you are found capable of work, the Social Security Agency will call you to discuss what your benefit options are. They will also write to you.

You may be able to claim:

If you are entitled to Employment and Support Allowance

If you are entitled to Employment and Support Allowance, the Social Security Agency will call you to let you know. They will also write to you.

Your benefit will be transferred automatically and there will be no break in the payments you receive. If your existing incapacity benefits are more than the current rate of Employment and Support Allowance, you will receive a top-up payment.

Depending on how severe your disability or health condition is, you will be placed in one of two groups:

  • Work Related Activity Group
  • Support Group

Work Related Activity Group

If you are placed in the Work Related Activity Group, you will get support to help you prepare for suitable work.

Your benefit may be affected if you do not take part in the work-related support.

Support Group

If you are severely disabled or have the most severe health conditions you will be placed in the Support Group. You will not be expected to look for work and will get the extra support you need.

You will not have to take up any work-related support unless you want to.

Effect on tax and tax credits

If you start getting contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance it is taxable, so the Social Security Agency will let HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) know. Depending on your circumstances, HMRC may send you a new tax code.

If you get tax credits

Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance is also counted as income for tax credits purposes. You need to tell the Tax Credit Office if you start getting contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance and either of the following apply:

  • you claimed Invalidity Benefit before 1995, and have been getting Incapacity Benefit ever since
  • you were getting Severe Disablement Allowance

You can contact the Tax Credit Office by telephoning the Tax credit helpline.