Search rightsnet
Search options

Where

Benefit

Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction

From

to

Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  COVID-19: Benefit claims and administration  →  Thread

sick notes

Pete at CAB
forum member

Childrens Centre Adviser, CAB, Camborne

Send message

Total Posts: 222

Joined: 12 December 2017

I may have misremembered this but didn’t UC drop the requirement to provide a sick note at the beginning of the first lockdown?

My cl is likely to be assessed as having LCWRA but UC are apparently saying that they wont pay the full arrears of the LCWRA element unless the cl can produce sicknotes from March 20 onward. The cl changed GP in May 20 and the previous GP will not provide backdated sick notes for someone who is no longer a patient.

If there is any proof that UC dropped the requirement for a sicknote then it is arguable that it is not reasonable to ask for one now when there was no requirement to do so at the time.

I haven’t been able to find a reference to not needing a sick note in the UC/COVID regs and I was wondering if anyone had any information or , better still, a reference

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
forum member

Information and advice resources - Age UK

Send message

Total Posts: 2454

Joined: 7 January 2016

From our internal benefits briefing dated 2 April 2020

• New claimants to Universal Credit or ESA because of coronavirus will not be required to produce a Fit Note.

Dan Manville
forum member

Greater Manchester Law Centre

Send message

Total Posts: 138

Joined: 22 January 2020

The regs state that evidence of limited capability must be provided in accordance with the medical evidence regulations. The medical evidence regulations have a catch all provision where it’s not reasonable to provide the med3. I’d be arguing that it’s not reasonable to provide the med3 where JCP have said they don’t need one for whatever reason.

Ianb
forum member

Macmillan benefits team, Citizens Advice Bristol

Send message

Total Posts: 647

Joined: 24 November 2017

I note that the bot quoted by Paul says “New claimants to Universal Credit or ESA because of coronavirus will not be required to produce a Fit Note.” If the medical condition does not relate to coronavirus i don’t think this will be relevant.

Medical evidence doesn’t have to be in the form of a Fit Note so if there is other evidence that can be provided I would try supplying this.
http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2020-0646/92._Medical_Evidence__including_Fit_notes_v6.0.pdf
“Acceptable medical evidence includes a:
 Statement of Fitness for Work
 doctor’s letter
 terminally ill form - DS1500
 hospital inpatient form - Med10
     
 psychiatric hospital admission form
 hospital discharge letter
 private medical certificates
 other evidence
This list is not exhaustive and any evidence provided by the claimant must be considered.”

BC Welfare Rights
forum member

The Brunswick Centre, Kirklees & Calderdale

Send message

Total Posts: 1226

Joined: 22 July 2013

The entries I have seen on UC journals say something like ‘Due to coronavirus, I’m unable to check your fit note. 
I trust the information is correct and you’re still unable to work. If this is not correct or, your circumstances have changed please contact us through your journal Keep your fit note as you may need to show it in the future.’

Not so much saying that you don’t need a fit note as we don’t need to see it at the moment but may do so later.

As others have stated, there are possible alternatives.

Va1der
forum member

Welfare Support Worker - Community Renewal Edinburgh

Send message

Total Posts: 370

Joined: 7 May 2019

I’ve been reading this slightly differently.

The focus isn’t on the aquisition of a fit note - as far as I understand it they will still require a fit note for the relevant period. It was the requirement to SUBMIT a fit note to DWP/JCP that was suspended.
I’d still expect DWP would have wanted claimants to report their health issues (and in UC to report the dates of the fit note using the built in function. Although, I think you could argue against this, on basis of confusing guidance etc.)
So essentially, claimants would: Declare health, obtain fit notes - and sit on them until such a time as they can be submitted again. I’ve seen several JCPs are now allowing them to be submitted, either by post or in person.

This, as far as I am concerned, now leaves DWP in this position: Anyone who has reported a health condition that impacts their ability to (look for) work upon claiming UC, can now seek to get a backdated fit note from their GP which, provided it covers them from the start of claim, means they can serve the minimum waiting period for the LCWRA element (EDIT nr 2: provided they claimed after the fit-note requriement was suspended).
As opposed to the normal situation where UC would (right or wrong) insist on the relevant period only starting when a fit note was first SUBMITTED.

EDIT: To answer OP, I think your client will need a fully backdated fit note. I don’t see any reason why the new GP wouldn’t provide this, they have access to the relevant records.

[ Edited: 11 Nov 2020 at 06:04 pm by Va1der ]
Mike Hughes
forum member

Senior welfare rights officer - Salford City Council Welfare Rights Service

Send message

Total Posts: 2580

Joined: 17 June 2010

I agree with Valder here. Very poorly expressed by DWP but it was the requirement to submit which was dropped not the requirement to have one. Unfortunately you are however at the mercy of a GP who has discretion when it comes to backdating.

Dan Manville
forum member

Greater Manchester Law Centre

Send message

Total Posts: 138

Joined: 22 January 2020

Mike Hughes - 12 November 2020 12:34 PM

Unfortunately you are however at the mercy of a GP who has discretion when it comes to backdating.

Not sure backdating is an issue in UC at the period of limited capability for work only starts when they actually receive evidence by menas of reporting the health condition on the UC account and logging the med 3 dates.

Dan Manville
forum member

Greater Manchester Law Centre

Send message

Total Posts: 138

Joined: 22 January 2020

Ianb - 11 November 2020 05:17 PM

I note that the bot quoted by Paul says “New claimants to Universal Credit or ESA because of coronavirus will not be required to produce a Fit Note.” If the medical condition does not relate to coronavirus i don’t think this will be relevant.

Medical evidence doesn’t have to be in the form of a Fit Note so if there is other evidence that can be provided I would try supplying this.
http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2020-0646/92._Medical_Evidence__including_Fit_notes_v6.0.pdf
“Acceptable medical evidence includes a:
 Statement of Fitness for Work
 doctor’s letter
 terminally ill form - DS1500
 hospital inpatient form - Med10
     
 psychiatric hospital admission form
 hospital discharge letter
 private medical certificates
 other evidence
This list is not exhaustive and any evidence provided by the claimant must be considered.”

Are you having any joy in providing alternative evidene Ian? JCP told me, a while back, that if a med3 isn’t submitted with start/end dates, then The Build can’t pay the LCWRAE nor refer through MSRS as the module to make the referral is greyed out.

Ianb
forum member

Macmillan benefits team, Citizens Advice Bristol

Send message

Total Posts: 647

Joined: 24 November 2017

Dan Manville - 16 November 2020 01:02 PM

Are you having any joy in providing alternative evidene Ian? JCP told me, a while back, that if a med3 isn’t submitted with start/end dates, then The Build can’t pay the LCWRAE nor refer through MSRS as the module to make the referral is greyed out.

I admit I’ve never had to try but thought it worth pointing out that the guidance is clear that Fit Notes are not the only form of acceptable evidence. In the case that started this thread there will obviously be current Fit Notes and it seems reasonable that if there is evidence that the particular health condition existed or was being treated at an earlier date when the condition was reported that should be sufficient even though a Fit Note is not to hand.

The problem you describe is tail wagging the dog problem again isn’t it- computer says no (or doesn’t understand the question)!

Ianb
forum member

Macmillan benefits team, Citizens Advice Bristol

Send message

Total Posts: 647

Joined: 24 November 2017

Looking at this further

UC regulations 2013 regulation 28 (2)(b) simply says “...claimant provides evidence of their having limited capability for work in accordance with the Medical Evidence Regulations.”

The ME Regulations 1976 regulation 2 (1) says “ in respect of each day until that person has been assessed for the purposes of the personal capability assessment or the limited capability for work assessment they shall provide evidence of such incapacity or limited capability by means of a statement given by a doctor in accordance with the rules set out in Part I of Schedule 1 to these Regulations.

(1A) Where it would be unreasonable to require a person to provide a statement in accordance with paragraph (1) above that person shall provide such other evidence as may be sufficient to show that they are incapable of work or have limited capability for work so that they should refrain (or should have refrained) from work by reason of some specific disease or bodily or mental disability.”

So Fit Note is what is specified and other evidence is only referred to if it would be unreasonable to require a person to provide a Fit Note.

The deposited paper guidance therefore appears more permissive than the regulations imply. Nonetheless if a Fit Note cannot be obtained but other evidence is available it must be worth trying to argue the case.

JAS1
forum member

Advice Worker, Gaddum Centre

Send message

Total Posts: 350

Joined: 14 February 2017

Got a client in LCW group waiting for a reassessment. JC are ringing him and calling him in to the JC and demanding fit notes. He’s close to jacking the whole claim in as it’s causing severe mental health issues. He’s been waiting for WCA since October.

I am gonna speak to UC but is it right that he has to immediately start producing fit notes again as soon as his LCW runs out?

Elliot Kent
forum member

Shelter

Send message

Total Posts: 2078

Joined: 14 July 2014

There is no such thing as LCW “running out”. If a person has been assessed as having LCW, they continue to have it until another WCA concludes that they are fit for work.

JAS1
forum member

Advice Worker, Gaddum Centre

Send message

Total Posts: 350

Joined: 14 February 2017

Yeah that’s what the JC told him. That he needs to submit fit notes as his assessment has ‘run out’. They keep hauling him in to the JC in tears too.

I thought that whole fit note thing sounded off. It’s their fault it’s taking so long to do an assessment not his. They haven’t even sent him a UC50 form yet. I will phone them and tell them to stop demanding fit notes immediately. They’ve agreed to stop calling him at least. Think they are worried he will end up in a MH crisis and don’t want more bad press tbh

Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District
forum member

Citizens Advice Bridport & District

Send message

Total Posts: 671

Joined: 9 January 2017

JAS1 - 10 June 2021 03:21 PM

Got a client in LCW group waiting for a reassessment. JC are ringing him and calling him in to the JC and demanding fit notes. He’s close to jacking the whole claim in as it’s causing severe mental health issues. He’s been waiting for WCA since October.

I am gonna speak to UC but is it right that he has to immediately start producing fit notes again as soon as his LCW runs out?

Short answer is no - link to DWP guidance below - which could be copied and pasted on to journal similarly https://makeacomplaint.dwp.gov.uk/ would be worth sharing with https://cpag.org.uk/policy-campaigns/early-warning-system

Sadly, over 8 years since the advent of UC this still keeps cropping up. Heard of other cases.

http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2020-0646/92._Medical_Evidence__including_Fit_notes_v6.0.pdf

‘Medical evidence following Work Capability Assessment
Medical evidence is not required after a Work Capability Assessment decision
has been made for the condition relating to that assessment.
If a claimant continues to provide medical evidence after a Work Capability
Assessment decision and the condition has not changed, they must be
reminded that this is no longer needed for that condition as a decision has
been made.
When the claimant’s Work Capability Assessment decision is due for review,
there is no need to ask them to provide any more fit notes’.

JAS1
forum member

Advice Worker, Gaddum Centre

Send message

Total Posts: 350

Joined: 14 February 2017

Cheers both, appreciated.

JAS1
forum member

Advice Worker, Gaddum Centre

Send message

Total Posts: 350

Joined: 14 February 2017

Spoke to UC. Apparently his LCW has ‘run out’. It’s just dropped off his claim. Agent had no idea why. He was referred for a WCA June last year and his LCW has ended hence fit notes definitely being needed (according to the agent that is)

What a load of rubbish. Will escalate to case manager on his journal quoting the guidance helpfully provided above!

[ Edited: 10 Jun 2021 at 04:02 pm by JAS1 ]
Elliot Kent
forum member

Shelter

Send message

Total Posts: 2078

Joined: 14 July 2014

Either there has been a decision made that he doesn’t have, or is treated as not having, LCW (in which case there ought to be a notification on his journal) or he still has LCW.

Honestly I wouldn’t be too surprised if it turns out to be something along the lines of a decision being made at some point that he didn’t have LCW because of not returning a UC50 and just nobody has actually done anything about it because it has had no bottom line effect on entitlement and enforcing conditionality has not really been a priority of late.

Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District
forum member

Citizens Advice Bridport & District

Send message

Total Posts: 671

Joined: 9 January 2017

JAS1 - 10 June 2021 03:54 PM

Spoke to UC. Apparently his LCW has ‘run out’. It’s just dropped off his claim. Agent had no idea why. He was referred for a WCA June last year and his LCW has ended hence fit notes definitely being needed (according to the agent that is)

What a load of rubbish. Will escalate to case manager on his journal quoting the guidance helpfully provided above!

Would be worth also considering advising an online complaint. As a tactical measure/safeguard, because it would go to the regional complaints resolution, who in theory would contact the relevant processing centre and state the obvious.

 

 

UB40
forum member

Debt Advice + Community Money Advice Launceston

Send message

Total Posts: 7

Joined: 29 April 2021

Almost all the new staff recruited last year were 12 month fixed term appointments and will be new getting ready to pack their bags!     

                                  https://www.pcs.org.uk/department-for-work-and-pensions/news/adherence-to-civil-service-commissioner%E2%80%99s-rules-for-work-coach

BC Welfare Rights
forum member

The Brunswick Centre, Kirklees & Calderdale

Send message

Total Posts: 1226

Joined: 22 July 2013

I have come across the situation where UC has started randomly asking for fit notes for someone who has been assessed as having LCW. Turned out with my cases that it was the 12 or 18 month review period that had been set when making the LCW decision that had expired (without them being reassessed). UC staff seemed to think that this meant cl had to start providing fitnotes again as they ‘no longer had LCW’

JAS1
forum member

Advice Worker, Gaddum Centre

Send message

Total Posts: 350

Joined: 14 February 2017

Elliot Kent - 10 June 2021 04:14 PM

Either there has been a decision made that he doesn’t have, or is treated as not having, LCW (in which case there ought to be a notification on his journal) or he still has LCW.

Honestly I wouldn’t be too surprised if it turns out to be something along the lines of a decision being made at some point that he didn’t have LCW because of not returning a UC50 and just nobody has actually done anything about it because it has had no bottom line effect on entitlement and enforcing conditionality has not really been a priority of late.

You could be right there Elliot. Definitely a possibility. I will find out for sure.

Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District - 10 June 2021 04:16 PM
JAS1 - 10 June 2021 03:54 PM

Spoke to UC. Apparently his LCW has ‘run out’. It’s just dropped off his claim. Agent had no idea why. He was referred for a WCA June last year and his LCW has ended hence fit notes definitely being needed (according to the agent that is)
What a load of rubbish. Will escalate to case manager on his journal quoting the guidance helpfully provided above!

Would be worth also considering advising an online complaint. As a tactical measure/safeguard, because it would go to the regional complaints resolution, who in theory would contact the relevant processing centre and state the obvious.

Good idea, cheers Andy.

BC Welfare Rights - 10 June 2021 04:36 PM

I have come across the situation where UC has started randomly asking for fit notes for someone who has been assessed as having LCW. Turned out with my cases that it was the 12 or 18 month review period that had been set when making the LCW decision that had expired (without them being reassessed). UC staff seemed to think that this meant cl had to start providing fitnotes again as they ‘no longer had LCW’

If it’s not what Elliott suggested I reckon it’s this. LCW was given for 20 months which would have been up in March this year and this seems to correlate with the timings of the JC springing into action and demanding he wheel himself in to the job centre to explain himself and present fit notes etc.

The adviser was adamant that if someone doesn’t have LCW then fit notes are needed, end of story. I did point out this was not what DWP guidance states but realised I was wasting my time, as is usually the case when speaking to the UC call centre. Not her fault either really, lack of training.

 

Ianb
forum member

Macmillan benefits team, Citizens Advice Bristol

Send message

Total Posts: 647

Joined: 24 November 2017

JAS1 - 10 June 2021 04:52 PM

... I reckon it’s this. LCW was given for 20 months ....The adviser was adamant that if someone doesn’t have LCW then fit notes are needed, end of story.

LCW was not given for 20 months. A decision was made that the claimant has LCW. That decision continues indefinitely until such time as a new decision is made. The 20 months is just a recommendation for when the decision should be reviewed so that a new decision can be made.

JAS1
forum member

Advice Worker, Gaddum Centre

Send message

Total Posts: 350

Joined: 14 February 2017

A training issue for sure as a few times now I’ve had them be adamant that its a ticking clock and time is running out so get your fit notes in again etc. Pressuring clients into panicking about it, as they like to do.

Add it to the long list of other things they don’t tell the poor call centre drones about, along with implied consent being a thing. Although it’s even more worrying when the case managers/DMs behind the scenes are getting it wrong too.

[ Edited: 11 Jun 2021 at 03:47 pm by JAS1 ]
Rosie W
forum member

Welfare rights service - Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust

Send message

Total Posts: 337

Joined: 9 February 2012

We had a similar issue with a client who was new to the Deputyship team who act as corporate appointee. When they took over he had LCW status from his previous ESA claim but had failed to attend an assessment and they were treating him as fit for work. We got this decision revised as there was clearly good cause for the failure to attend (he was in hospital and lacks capacity).

UC then carried on as though he had never been assessed, demanded fit notes and referred him for a new assessment. It took months to get them to understand that he simply reverted to the before situation of having LCW, and as he is one of the “old” LCW claimants he is entitled to the LCW element.

His WCA referral then “dropped off” the system.

His LCW element was only reinstated last month and arrears would have been issued, but inevitably they were reduced to a negative amount due to various overpayments and deductions. And this only happened after the issue was referred to a Policy and Technical Team (hence my recent post elsewhere about where are all the decision makers and how do you get something in front of somebody who both understands, and has the power to resolve, an issue).

The entries on his journal were either laughable or enough to make me weep with frustration.

Given it took me (an experienced WRO in a second tier unit) several months to sort this one out, how many UC claimants are out there suffering from this nonsense and without the knowledge or ability to sort it out?

On the other hand, I’ve had other issues which have been sorted in one day following a simple message on the journal. And this client has just had his reassessment, been found to have LCWRA and wonder of wonders, this has been applied from the correct date. We did have to complete a new UC50 but in the circumstances this was just as well.

It is frighteningly inconsistent and some of the processes are breathtakingly poor and not understood by the very people who are there to run them.

Rant over. For now.