Incapacity for work: the personal capability assessment

About the Personal Capability Assessment

The personal capability assessment (PCA) is the test that the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) uses to decide whether you are capable of work. If you claim incapacity benefit or income support as incapable of work, you become subject to the PCA either as soon as you become ill, if you haven’t worked for some time, or after 28 weeks if you have.

The test is based on a points system: if you score enough points you are found incapable of work, if you don't you are capable of work. The test has two parts, a physical test and a mental health test. BHAS produce a guide to the mental health test and we are currently seeking funding to produce a guide to the physical health test.

In the meantime, you can download a copy of the Department of Work and Pensions guide to the PCA, which explains how the points system works, from the useful resources section below. If you are found fit for work as a result of a PCA and you think the decision is wrong, get advice from an advice agency about how to challenge it.

Useful resources

The resources in this section are all produced by the Department of Work and Pensions. You can find a great deal more useful information about benefits at the Department of Work and Pensions website.

Please note: the guide may take several minutes to download, during which your screen may look blank. You will also need Acrobat Reader 5, which you can download for free by clicking on the Acrobat icon or following the text link below. Right click on the links below and choose 'Save file as . . .' to save a copy to your own computer in .pdf format, left click if you would like to look online before downloading. 

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Please note: all the material below is Crown copyright. Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.

Booklet IB214 Incapacity Benefit - The Personal Capability Assessment (40 pages A5, 210KB)
A guide to the points system for incapacity for work.

Leaflet GL24 If you think our decision is wrong (20 pages A5, 100KB)
This booklet contains the official form for lodging an appeal, which you can print out, complete and send off. Remember: the DWP must receive your completed appeal form within one month of the date on the letter giving you the decision that you are capable of work. See our guide for more details.

The Incapacity Benefit Handbook for Approved Doctors  (206 pages A5, 321KB)
This is the guide to carrying out personal capability assessments (PCAs) used by all medical services doctors. It explains how the PCA should be carried out both for people with physical and mental health problems.

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