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Incapacity Benefit - medical examination

Incapacity Benefit (IB) is a weekly payment for people under state pension age who can't work because of a disability or illness.

When you make a claim for Incapacity Benefit, you will usually have a Personal Capability Assessment, unless you have a severe disability or illness that falls into an exempt category. The office dealing with your claim can give you more information about exemptions.

The Personal Capability Assessment may involve a medical examination if more information is needed about your condition before your claim can be processed.

About Personal Capability Assessments

A Personal Capability Assessment (PCA) is the main assessment for Incapacity Benefit claims. An approved Disability Analyst, who has been trained in handling Incapacity Benefit claims, will assess your claim and provide advice to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), who are responsible for benefit claims.

The analyst may recommend that you attend a medical examination if they feel they need more information about your condition.

The PCA applies:

  • as soon as you claim if you haven't worked in a job for at least eight of the previous 21 weeks
  • from the 29th week of incapacity in all other cases

What is involved

When you make a claim for Incapacity Benefit, you have to complete a questionnaire about how your disability or illness affects your ability to complete everyday tasks. Your own doctor may be asked to provide a medical report.

An approved Disability Analyst will consider the questionnaire and any medical reports, along with any other information you may have provided. If the analyst feels that the DWP will need more information before they can make a decision on your benefit claim, they will recommend that you attend a medical examination.

Permitted Work

You can do some work while claiming Incapacity Benefit, within limits. This is called 'Permitted Work' and it allows you to test your own capacity for work and perhaps gain new skills.

You won't need to have a medical examination just because you have started doing permitted work. However, if you're asked to attend a medical examination for some other reason, the fact that you're doing permitted work will not count against your claim.

Why you've been asked to attend a medical examination

You may have been asked to attend a medical examination for a number of reasons. It is often because more medical information is needed before your claim can be approved. It doesn't mean the information you've provided on your claim form is being treated as suspicious or that your claim will be turned down.

Your benefit claim will not be turned down without you either having a medical examination or being offered one.

The medical examination - your rights

The medical examination will usually take place at one of the Medical Examination Centres (MECs) near where you live. However, if you're unfit to travel or you live more than 90 minutes' journey from the nearest centre, the doctor may visit you at home.

You will be given notice of your appointment and the chance to change it if the time doesn't suit you. It's very important to attend your medical examination as your benefit may be affected if you don't.

If for any reason you can't attend, you should contact the MEC beforehand and arrange another appointment.

You have the right to:

  • have a friend, relative or support worker with you at the medical examination
  • ask for an interpreter if you need one
  • ask to be examined by a doctor of the same gender as yourself

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

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