Review of your incapacity benefits if you live abroad

Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance are being phased out. If you live abroad and get one of these benefits your claim will be reviewed to see if you can get Employment Support Allowance instead. Find out how your claim will be reviewed.

Changes if you live abroad

Your claim will be reviewed to see if you can get Employment and Support Allowance, if you are getting either Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance.

People getting benefit in the UK will have the same review as people living abroad, but the way your reassessment is organised will be different.

What will happen if you live abroad

The International Pension Centre will write to you when your benefit claim is going to be reviewed.

Not everyone will be contacted at the same time. Until your claim is reviewed you will continue to get your current benefit, as long as you meet the rules for getting that benefit.

How your claim will be reviewed

The International Pension Centre will send you a medical questionnaire. The 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 don’t your benefit may be affected.

Work Capability Assessment

The information you give in your questionnaire will help to decide if you need to go to a face-to-face assessment with a health care professional. This assessment will help find out:

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

If you need to have a face-to-face assessment, the International Pension Centre will arrange an appointment for you. Arrangements can be made for you to have an assessment in the country where you live. Full details will be provided if this is required. Alternatively, you can choose to return to the UK for the assessment - you will need to pay travel costs to return to UK yourself.

If you are asked to go to an assessment, you must go and take part fully. If you don’t, your benefit may be affected.

The results from the assessment will be sent to the Department for Work and Pensions medical services contractor in the UK. They will use it to produce a report on how your disability affects you.

After your claim has been reviewed

Following your assessment you will receive a letter to let you know if you can get Employment and Support Allowance. The letter will tell you:

  • how this decision will affect you
  • what to do if you think the decision is wrong

If you are entitled to Employment and Support Allowance

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're in this group you won’t be able to get the support being offered to help people in the UK move into work.

This means you won't be required or expected to carry out any activities to do with work in order to get Employment and Support Allowance.

Support Group

If you are severely disabled or have the most severe health conditions you will be placed in the Support Group. This means you won't be required or expected to carry out any activities to do with work in order to get Employment and Support Allowance.

If you are not entitled to Employment and Support Allowance

If you are not entitled, the Department for Work and Pensions in the UK may no longer be responsible for providing benefits to you.

You may continue to have the right to some UK benefits, like health cover, if:

  • you have a spouse who continues to get a UK benefit, like State Pension or Employment and Support Allowance
  • you are the dependant child of a person who continues to get a UK benefit, like State Pension or Employment and Support Allowance

Effect on tax and tax credits

If you start getting contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance it is taxable, so HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will be automatically notified. Depending on your circumstances, HMRC may send you a new tax code.

If you get tax credits

If you now get contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance, you must tell the Tax Credit Office about the change to your benefit if either:

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

This is because contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance counts as income when working out your tax credits.

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