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Incapacity Benefits: Medical Examinations

Volume 475: debated on Monday 28 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to ensure that employment and support allowance assessments take account of the characteristics of different health conditions, with particular reference to the fluctuations inherent in the symptomatic severity of myalgic encephalopathy; and if he will make a statement. (201834)

The new Work Capability Assessment for Employment and Support Allowance will be a fair, robust and accurate assessment of limited capability for work which takes account of all conditions, including those that are long term and that fluctuate such as myalgic encephalopathy.

The Work Capability Assessment is not a snapshot of a person’s condition on the day of the assessment. In assessing whether a person can carry out any given activity, health care professionals must take into account the person’s condition over a reasonable period of time. They must take into account the effects of symptoms such as pain and fatigue. In this way the Work Capability Assessment takes account of the effects of fluctuating conditions.

If there is a change in a person’s disabling condition, there will be a provision to refer the person to an approved healthcare professional so that we can determine afresh whether or not the person has limited capability for work, or limited capability for work-related activity.