wcainfo

Terminal illness

A person is defined as 'terminally ill' if at that time they suffer from a progressive disease and their death in consequence of that disease can reasonably be expected within 12 months.


Legislation

Regulations provide that a person who is terminally ill is automatically treated as having limited capability for work and work-related activity.

Sources:

  • Regulations 20(1)(a) and 35(1)(a) of the Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2008 (SI.No.794/2008) (applies to income-related and old-style contributory ESA).
  • Regulations 16(1)(a) and 31(1)(a) of the Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2013 (SI.No.379/2013) (applies to new-style contributory ESA).
  • Paragraph 1 of Schedule 9 to the Universal Credit Regulations 2013 (SI.No.376/2013) (applies to universal credit).

Regulations also provide that claimants who are terminally ill do not have to serve the three-month waiting period before the support group component of ESA or the limited capability for work-related activity element of universal credit can be included in the award.

Sources:

  • Regulation 7(1)(a) of the Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2008 (SI.No.794/2008) (applies to income-related and old-style contributory ESA).
  • Regulation 7(1)(a) of the Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2013 (SI.No.379/2013) (applies to new-style contributory ESA).
  • Regulation 28 (5)(a) of the Universal Credit Regulations 2013 (SI.No.376/2013) (applies to universal credit).

Case law

Commentary: The definition of terminal illness has been considered by the courts (see below) which accelerated a change in the legislation, brought into force in April 2022, which provides that a person is considered terminally ill if death can reasonably be expected within 12 months as opposed to six months as it was prior to that date.