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Work Capability Assessment

If you make a claim for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) from the Department of Work and Pensions, you will need to take a Work Capability Assessment to test to what extent you require the allowance. Also, you may also be asked to take part in a medical assessment so you can be assessed more accurately on your specific needs.

About the Work Capability Assessment

The Work Capability Assessment is a questionnaire that will be examined by a healthcare professional to determine your access to the ESA.  If the healthcare professional needs further information on your particular circumstances then they may request a medical assessment is carried out. Also, your doctor may be required to provide a medical report on your current medical status. Once either the Work Capability Assessment, and in some circumstances the medical assessment, has been carried out then you may be awarded the ESA.

About the medical assessment

The medical assessment will usually take place at a medical centre near where you live. If you are unable to travel to the medical or you live more than 90 minutes' journey from the nearest centre, a healthcare professional may arrange a visit to your home. You will usually be contacted by telephone by the Medical Services provider. This can be any time between 8.30am and 8.00pm. Notice of your appointment will be provided and you will be given the option to change it if the time doesn't suit you. Your appointment time will be between 9.00am and 5.00pm. It is very important to attend and participate in your medical assessment as your benefit may be affected if you don't. If for any reason you cannot attend, you should contact the medical centre beforehand and arrange another appointment.

Your rights at the assessment

You have the right to:

  • have a friend, relative or support worker with you at the medical assessment
  • ask for an interpreter if you cannot speak in English
  • Welsh-speaking healthcare professionals (HCP) are available in Wales if you wish to have your assessment conducted in Welsh
  • ask to be assessed by an approved healthcare professional of the same gender as yourself

You need to let the Medical Centre know ahead of time if you want an interpreter or same-gender approved healthcare professional. They will try to find one for you, although this may not always be possible in some areas.

Terminal illness

There are special rules if your doctor does not think you will live for more than six months. These rules make sure you get the most money you can. If this applies to you, please speak to a Jobcentre Plus adviser.

Mental health conditions

If you have a mental health condition, Jobcentre Plus may ask you to fill in a questionnaire about how this affects you. A mental health condition could affect:

  • your mood
  • the way you behave
  • the way you relate to the world around you
  • how you cope with things from day to day

You must tell Jobcentre Plus if you have other health problems as well. Jobcentre Plus may talk to your doctor, and you may have to see one of their healthcare professionals.

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