Your UC50 form is vital

The evidence you give in your UC50 capability for work form is vital.

It will help decide whether you are expected to look for, and be available for work, or whether you are eligible for the limited capability for work-related activity element and not required to prepare for work.

Completing the UC50 form in detail can also reduce the chances of having to have a face-to-face assessment.

Even if, as sometimes happens, not enough attention is paid to your UC50 in the early stages of decision making, your answers are still crucially important.

Because you can be certain an appeal tribunal will be listening carefully for any unexplained contradictions between the oral evidence you give at an appeal hearing and the evidence in your UC50 form.

So, it’s really significant that you give the most detailed and accurate evidence you can in your UC50, rather than just ticking the boxes and hoping for the best.

Join the Benefits and Work community, and you can instantly download our guides to completing the UC50 form on physical health grounds and on mental health grounds.


How our UC guide can help

Our guide takes you step-by-step through every box in the UC50 questionnaire.

Amongst other things, the guides explain:

How the UC points system works. For UC, you need to be assessed as scoring enough points to pass the work capability assessment, unless one of a number of exemptions or exceptional circumstances apply to you. If you don’t know how the points system works, you can’t decide whether you assess yourself as being capable of work.

The importance of exemptions and exceptional circumstances. Even if you don’t score enough points, it is still possible to be found to have limited capability for work-related activity and be paid an additional element, as well as not being obliged to undertake work-related activities. But you need to know what the rules, including those relating to ‘substantial risk’ are and how to give evidence if they apply to you, as the UC50 form does not always prompt you to do so.

How to show you score points even if you can do an activity. Knowing the importance of giving evidence about pain, fatigue and reasonable repeatability is vital if you are to show which descriptors apply to you. Again, the form will not prompt you to do this.

How to improve your chances by supplying supporting evidence. Providing the right sort of supporting evidence can have a dramatic effect on the likely success of your claim. We explain how to do this.

How to prepare for your universal credit face-to-face assessment. Being well prepared for your assessment can make all the difference to the outcome. For example, you need to decide in advance whether to ask for your assessment to be recorded. And knowing beforehand what happens at your assessment, the questions you are likely to be asked, and being aware that the assessment begins before you enter the room and continues after you leave it will mean you are much better prepared and able to give detailed and accurate evidence.

How the decision is made. Knowing how the decision is made and what to do when you get the decision, whether you are happy with it or not, helps you to feel in control of the process and prevents you missing vital deadlines.


UC50 physical and mental health guide

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Download sample pages from our ESA and UC claims guide

Our guide to completing the UC50 includes both physical and mental health grounds.

Many people have a condition, or conditions, that affect both their physical and mental health.

You may only have a mental health condition or only have a physical health one.  Or you may have both.

For example, you may have ME/CFS, with the result that extreme fatigue impacts both your ability to carry out physical tasks and your ability to concentrate.

Or you may have a physical condition such as a severe back problem whose physical affects have led to your developing depression.

In relation to mental health our guide covers:

  • mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety
  • learning difficulties
  • a brain injury
  • substance misuse or dependency problems

The guide takes you through every box in the form, looking at:

  • Learning how to do tasks
  • Awareness of hazards and danger
  • Starting and finishing tasks
  • Coping with changes
  • Going out
  • Coping with social situations
  • Behaving appropriately
  • Eating and drinking

 In relation to physical health our guide takes you through completing the questions for conditions such as:

  • epilepsy
  • arthritis
  • heart disease
  • back problems

It takes you box-by-box through all the questions on the form, including those covering:

  • Moving around and using steps
  • Standing and sitting
  • Reaching
  • Picking up and moving things
  • Manual dexterity (using your hands)
  • Communication – speaking, writing and typing
  • Communicating – hearing and reading
  • Getting around safely
  • Controlling your bowels and bladder and using a collecting device
  • Staying conscious when awake
  • Eating and drinking


UC activities and descriptors

The physical and mental health questions in the UC50 form relate to the ‘Activities’ that the work capability assessment gives points for.

So, for example, the questions about reaching on the form relate to the ‘Reaching’ activity in the work capability assessment.

This activity is divided into a number of ‘Descriptors’ each of which scores a different number of points, depending on the level of difficulty you have with it.

The points range from 15 to zero.

The law says that you score points for the reaching activity, as follows:

  1. Cannot raise either arm as if to put something in the top pocket of a coat or jacket. 15 points
  2. Cannot raise either arm to top of head as if to put on a hat. 9 points
  3. Cannot raise either arm above head height as if to reach for something. 6 points
  4. None of the above apply. 0 points

If it is accepted by the decision maker that descriptor (a) applies to you, you will be awarded 15 points and qualify as having limited capability for work-related activity and get the additional element.


Questions the UC50 doesn’t ask

But the questions on the UC50 form are not complete.

They ask you about descriptor (a):

"Can you lift at least one of your arms high enough to put something in the top pocket of a coat or jacket while you are wearing it?"

And they also ask you descriptor (c):

"Can you lift one of your arms above your head?"

But they don’t ask you a question relating to descriptor (b), whether you can raise either arm just to the top of your head, rather than above it.

Equally importantly, the questions don’t tell you that if reaching causes you severe discomfort, pain, breathlessness or extreme fatigue, or if you could do it once but not repeatedly or if your ability varies, then you may count as not being able to do it and score points.


Don’t just tick the boxes

It’s absolutely vital that you give as much information as possible about any difficulties you have with an activity.

If possible you need to explain why you have difficulties with an activity, describing any pain or fatigue and being clear, if your condition varies, about how often on average you can do it. Giving examples of when things have gone wrong and providing supporting evidence will make what you write much more powerful and convincing.

If you just tick the boxes, you are seriously reducing your chances of a successful outcome at this stage. You will have to rely on trying to give more detailed information at your assessment or appeal hearing.


Don’t miss that deadline

Don’t put off completing and returning your UC50 – you have a deadline to meet.

Subscribe to Benefits and Work right now and within seconds you can be completing your form with confidence.

As a member you can download all the guides on the site – not just to universal credit but to all the other benefits we cover – as often as you need for a year. With no additional charges.

And there’s a 7 day, no quibble refund policy if you aren’t happy with what we provide.

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