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Social Security Benefits: Medical Examinations

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN 108635, tabled on 20 January 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether it is her Department's policy that claimants with verified progressive neurological conditions can be exempted from health-related social security medical assessments.

Answered on

31 January 2022

Awards of the health and disability related benefits are not made based on a person’s condition or diagnosis but rather on how their condition limits their abilities. People can have very differing circumstances so we have developed assessments which are designed to measure the impact of a person’s health condition or disability on their work-related or daily living needs, including the level at which they should be paid.

In Sept 2017 the Department introduced Severe Conditions Criteria (SCC) for Employment and Support Allowance and the health component of Universal Credit. This stops unnecessary reassessments for those with the most severe and lifelong conditions. In 2018, we introduced new guidance on Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments which ensures that claimants on the highest level of support whose needs will not improve receive an ongoing award of PIP with a light touch review at the 10-year point.

Where a claimant is nearing the end of their life they are able to claim benefits under the Special Rules for Terminal illness (SRTI). The SRTI provide access to benefit without waiting periods. Awards are made on the basis of a paper-based assessment and claimants usually receive the highest rates of benefit. The Department announced that it would replace the current 6-month rule for determining eligibility for the Special Rules for Terminal Illness with a 12-month, end of life approach.

The Shaping Future Support: Health and Disability Green Paper published 20th July 2021, explored the possibility of testing a new Severe Disability Group for those with severe and lifelong conditions to access ESA/UC and PIP. This could simplify the process by removing the need for a long form or a face-to-face assessment for this group and build on existing provision such as Severe Conditions and Special Rules for Terminal Illness.