Incapacity Benefit

If you couldn’t work because of illness or disability before 31 January 2011, you may be receiving Incapacity Benefit. People claiming after this date must apply for Employment and Support Allowance instead. Find out how changes will affect people already claiming Incapacity Benefit, and information on payments and Permitted Work.

Since 31 January 2011 you cannot make a new claim for Incapacity Benefit. You should claim Employment and Support Allowance instead. 

Incapacity Benefits payments

Weekly rate

The weekly rate for Incapacity Benefit is £112.25.

Extra payments

You may be able to get:

  • an 'age addition' if you were under 45 when you became too ill or disabled to work
  • extra benefit for your spouse, civil partner or the person who looks after your children

Benefit cap

The benefit cap limits the amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can get. Some individual benefits aren’t affected but it may affect the total amount of benefit you get.

Pension income rule

If you have a gross pension income of more than £85 a week, the amount of benefit will be reduced by half of the excess.

The excess is the difference between £85 and the actual pension income. For example, for a pension income of £100, the excess is £15. The amount of Incapacity Benefit payable is reduced by half of that, which is £7.50.

Exceptions to pension income rule

This rule does not apply if:

  • you started receiving Incapacity Benefit before 6 April 2001
  • your claim is made under the ‘linking rules’ for Incapacity Benefit and links back to before 6 April 2001
  • you receive the highest rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance

Tax credits and other support

You may be able to get:

  • Child Tax Credit if you're responsible for at least one child
  • Working Tax Credit if you're working and on a low income

You can order a claim pack Tax Credit Helpline.

Permitted work

You may be able to do some types of work while claiming Incapacity Benefit but within certain limits. This is called 'permitted work'. Information on permitted work and how to apply is available at the following link:

SMS messages

When claiming Incapacity Benefit you may receive text messages (SMS) from the Department for Communities (DfC). They will always be clearly marked as DfC and will never ask you to give, or click a link to give, personal information or financial details by message or email.

If you’re concerned or unsure about any text messages (SMS) you receive from about Incapacity Benefit you should contact Incapacity Benefits Branch directly. If you suspect you have received a fraudulent message as a scam, please contact Incapacity Benefits Branch immediately.

  • Further information is available at: scamwiseni

If your circumstances change

It's important you contact Incapacity Benefits Branch if your circumstances change, for example, if:

  • you do any work including voluntary work
  • you start training and get a training allowance
  • you change your address
  • you have been in hospital for 52 weeks and part of your benefit is paid for another adult or child
  • you go abroad

Changes for people already claiming Incapacity Benefit

As Employment and Support Allowance is replacing Incapacity Benefit, your claim will be reviewed through an Incapacity Benefit Reassessment. Until this review happens you will continue to get your current Incapacity Benefit, as long as you still meet the conditions.

This change will not affect you if you are already over State Pension age and get Severe Disablement Allowance.

Incapacity Benefit reassessment

Incapacity Benefit Reassessment involves a work focused interview and a work capability assessment.

Work-focused interview

This is a face-to-face interview with a personal adviser from the Department for Communities (DfC) to help identify what work you could do and the steps you could take to find work.

Work capability assessment

This assessment helps decide which benefits you may qualify for. It includes:

  • a questionnaire
  • an examination of your medical evidence by a healthcare professional
  • a face-to-face medical assessment (in some circumstances)

It assesses what you can do, rather than what you can’t.

If it is clear from medical evidence you are unlikely to be capable of work or are terminally ill, you will not be required to go to a face-to-face assessment.

If a face-to-face assessment is required, an approved healthcare professional will assess how well you can do things like walk, sit and stand up, use your hands, see and hear.

If you have a mental health condition, they will assess how it affects your mood, how you behave, how you relate to the world around you and how you cope with day to day things.

The healthcare professional will complete a report and send it to DfC where a decision will be made on what benefit you will qualify for.

After an Incapacity Benefit reassessment

The Incapacity Benefit reassessment will decide if you qualify or not for Employment and Support Allowance.

Incapacity Benefit payments

There will be no change to your Incapacity Benefit because of reassessment until a decision has been taken on your benefit entitlement.

If you move to Employment and Support Allowance, a 'top-up' payment will make sure you don’t see a cut in your benefit entitlement as a result of the change.

If you have children

Employment and Support Allowance does not include payment for children. If you currently get extra money in your Income Support for a child or children, you will need to be assessed for Child Tax Credit. This is a payment to support customers bringing up children.

Income Support customers, claiming on the grounds of incapacity and who receive Income-related Child Dependency Allowances, will be transferred to the HM Revenue and Customs, Child Tax Credits system before their move to Employment and Support Allowance.

This means that the existing financial support for children will be transferred to Child Tax Credit. HM Revenue and Customs has a target of dealing with these claims within 28 days of receipt. 

If you don't qualify for Employment and Support Allowance

You will be taken through all available options by DfC’s Customer Advice and Support team. This may result in you:

  • claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance
  • claiming Income Support under another condition of entitlement (if you are a carer or a lone parent)
  • moving off benefits
  • claiming Income Support 

People with ‘limited capability for work-related activity’

If you were found to have limited capability for work-related activity, you:

  • will be moved to Employment and Support Allowance and join the Support Group, where you will receive increased support
  • will not need to do work focused activity, but you will be able to access DfC services on a voluntary basis

People with ‘limited capability for work’

If you were found to have limited capability for work, you:

  • will be moved to Employment and Support Allowance and join the Work Related Activity Group
  • will need to do three work focused interviews

If you were found fit for work you may be eligible to make a claim for Job Seekers Allowance and should speak to your local Jobs and Benefits office if you need help.

Help and support

DfC can provide support including:

  • help with confidence building
  • motivation and personalised support
  • training
  • job search skills
  • work experience placements
  • supported job opportunities

Work programmes

Disability Employment Service provides support for those with health related conditions to find and stay in work. This includes help to manage your health condition, adaptations to employer’s premises, trial job periods and occupational psychologist support.

Steps 2 Success

Steps 2 Success is an employment programme to help you build skills and experience to find and keep a job. It can:

  • provide opportunities for work experience
  • provide opportunities to improve existing skills
  • provide opportunities to gain recognised qualifications
  • provide providing personalised advice and guidance to help you make the right choices
  • allow you to re-train while remaining on benefit plus receiving a weekly Training Bonus
  • provide ongoing support and encouragement

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