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UC, medical certificates and sanctions

 

Sally63
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This is hypothetical ie it hasn’t happened to me yet.

If a claimant is on JSA and they produce a series of med certs then the JCP will tell them to claim ESA, they will be WCA and if they fail their ESA will stop.

If they are on UC and they produce a series of med certs they will be sent a UC50 and WCA’d. If they fail they will not get the disability addition. They will continue to get the standard allowance.

If they continue to receive med certs and are sanctioned for not looking for work what is the legal significance (if any) of the medical certificate which does, after all, say “not fit for work” and is signed by a HCP

     
MickD
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A Med3 certificate is classed as advice and is not binding on an employer or the DWP.  If the person has failed the WCA then the DWP have presumably preferred to follow the advice of another HCP over and above the GP.

     
Jon (CHDCA)
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What is written on the med 3 could still be relevant evidence to either challenge the sanction, or to request an adjustment to the claimant commitment.

As an aside, the claimant may find that their GP says they “aren’t allowed” to issue further med3s anyway. This is the advice from DWP to GPs:

Your patient may ask you for a fit note if they claim UC on health grounds. Some patients may be working but have restricted ability to work – in these circumstances the patient may ask you for medical evidence of their health condition.

The patient will be referred to CHDA for a Work Capability Assessment as for ESA. Fit notes are required until DWP makes a decision on their claim. No further fit notes will be required unless the patient wishes to appeal the decision.

If your patient’s appeal is unsuccessful and it is decided that he or she is fit for work, you should only issue further fit notes if their condition worsens significantly or they develop a new condition.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-short-guide-to-the-benefit-system-for-general-practitioners

Edit: on a patient’s failed WCA, GPs also receive a letter from DWP paraphrasing the above.

      [ Edited: 10 Aug 2018 at 09:26 am by Jon (CHDCA) ]
Elliot Kent
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They can still be persuasive. A fair number of people I come across have failed the WCA but the work coach has then indicated that they will continue to take a “light touch” as long as fit notes are produced.

     
MickD
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Agreed.  No reason not to use a Med3 to try and get the claimant commitment varied.

     
Martin Williams
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Reg 99(2A) and (5)(c) of the UC Regs 2013 provide that SSWP must not impose a work search requirement on a claimant who:

1.Is unfit for work for period of longer than 14 days (or 2 such periods in any 12 months) and is providing a med cert; and

2. SSWP is satisfied would be unreasonable to apply a work search requirement (including a work search requirement that is limited under reg 88 due to health problems etc).

There is no reason this rule cannot apply even after a claimant has failed the WCA- although of course fact claimant has failed WCA may well mean SSWP will not be satisfied it is unreasonable to apply a work search requirement.

However, also note the guidance about the application of reg 88(2)(c) in Advice for Decision Making which helps getting number of hours reduced and also limitations on sorts of jobs needs to apply for- (Carl and Cliff are great!):

J3060   The expected hours of work for a claimant who has a
1. physical or
2. mental
impairment are the lower number of hours that the Secretary of State considers is reasonable as a result of the impairment1. The claimant does not have to show that they have reasonable prospects of obtaining paid work.
1 UC Regs, reg 88(2)(c)

Example
Carl has claimed UC. He suffers from rheumatoid arthritis which can cause him a degree of pain and discomfort but he does not have LCW. Carl’s adviser considers
the evidence and decides that Carl cannot be expected to work for 35 hours a week but that it is not unreasonable for him to work for ten hours a week. Carl’s expected number of hours a week for the purposes of UC are therefore ten per week.

J3061   A claimant may have their hours of work limited in any way provided the limitations are reasonable in the light of their physical or mental condition. 

Example
Cliff suffers from emphysema. He asks that the type of work that he can do should be limited
1. to avoid working in smoke or fumes
2. regarding the number of hours of work in a week or the number of hours in a shift due to fatigue/limitations.
This is determined to be reasonable in the light of Cliff’s condition.

J3062   Where it is agreed with the claimant that there are acceptable limitations due to their physical or mental impairments then they do not have to show they have reasonable prospects of getting paid work. However, the claimant must show that all the limitations are reasonable and are directly connected with their physical or mental impairment.

     
Jeremy Barker
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Jon (CHDCA) - 10 August 2018 09:17 AM

What is written on the med 3 could still be relevant evidence to either challenge the sanction, or to request an adjustment to the claimant commitment.

As an aside, the claimant may find that their GP says they “aren’t allowed” to issue further med3s anyway. This is the advice from DWP to GPs:

Your patient may ask you for a fit note if they claim UC on health grounds. Some patients may be working but have restricted ability to work – in these circumstances the patient may ask you for medical evidence of their health condition.

The patient will be referred to CHDA for a Work Capability Assessment as for ESA. Fit notes are required until DWP makes a decision on their claim. No further fit notes will be required unless the patient wishes to appeal the decision.

If your patient’s appeal is unsuccessful and it is decided that he or she is fit for work, you should only issue further fit notes if their condition worsens significantly or they develop a new condition.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-short-guide-to-the-benefit-system-for-general-practitioners

Edit: on a patient’s failed WCA, GPs also receive a letter from DWP paraphrasing the above.

That advice to doctors presupposes that the DWP’s decision on whether or not a person is fit for work is correct. Unfortunately we all know that in many cases it isn’t.

There ‘s also the point that while a person may not have “limited capability for work” acording to the legal definition that doesn’t mean they can do anything and what they can do may be significantly restricted. A MED3 certificate is one way of providing evidence of this.