Universal Credit and students

In order to be awarded Universal Credit (UC), a student must be entitled to Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment and also have limited capability for work. They would therefore need to satisfy the work capability assessment (WCA).

Universal credit is means tested so if they have savings between £6,000-£16,000, it will affect the amount of UC  received.

The issue

Previously for those claiming income related ESA, the fact that the student was in receipt of DLA or PIP was generally enough to treat them as having limited capability for work once they had provided a medical certificate.

This provision does not exist within Universal credit which means that students are being refused because they initially do not have limited capability for work.

A possible solution

Apply for contributory ‘new style’ ESA .  A claim can be made even if the national insurance contributions are not met and the student can have their limited capability for work assessed through a work capability assessment.

You should explain that as a full-time student they are not entitled to any benefits and want to make a credits only claim to be credited with class 1 national insurance contributions so this can be counted for their state retirement pension. Although not receiving money, they would go through the motions of making a claim and complying with the other conditions of entitlement, such as sending in medical certificates.

Once they have been assessed as having limited capability for work, they can then proceed to claim Universal credit. Being assessed as having limited capability for work for ESA allows you to have a limited capability for work for a UC claim.

Some of our members have been informed that new style ESA does not exist and that a claim for Universal credit must be made, this is incorrect. Have a look on the government website for up to date information and telephone numbers for a form to be sent out.

Ask for UC claim not to be decided until the work capability assessment has been carried out.  If DWP refuses the UC claim because the student does not have limited capability for work when they claim, they should stockpile these claims until the student has had their limited capability for work assessed.


You’ll find more information about benefits and financial help on our website.

Alternatively please ring our Benefits Adviser on 0333 1212 300 for help and advice.