You can't normally make a new claim for Incapacity Benefit after 27 October 2008. You will normally have to claim Employment and Support Allowance instead. However, in some unusual circumstances, you might still be able to make a new claim for Incapacity Benefit if you are getting Income Support on grounds of disability. The normal conditions for getting Incapacity Benefit would still apply.
Incapacity Benefit is paid at different rates, depending on how long someone has been getting it. Lower rate short-term Incapacity Benefit is paid for the first 196 days of sickness and is not taxable. Higher rate short-term Incapacity Benefit is paid for the next six months and long-term Incapacity Benefit is paid after a year. You can get extra money if you have dependants.
You may get less than the full rate of Incapacity Benefit if you are getting an occupational or personal pension or money from an insurance policy for physical or mental illness. If you carry on getting Incapacity Benefit once you reach state pension age, the rate you get may also be reduced.
Both higher rate short-term Incapacity Benefit and long-term Incapacity Benefit are taxable.
If you have problems with Incapacity Benefit, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a CAB. To search for details of your nearest CAB, click on nearest CAB.
How is Incapacity Benefit paid
Incapacity Benefit is usually paid directly into your bank, building society or Post Office card account. If you cannot open or manage an account, you can be paid by Simple Payment. The DWP will give you a Simple Payment card which you can use to collect your benefit at a PayPoint outlet displaying the Simple Payment sign.
For more information about payment of benefits, see Payment of benefits and tax credits.
Civil penalties for causing an overpayment
In some cases, you may have to pay a civil penalty if you do something which causes an overpayment. This can happen if, for example, you give wrong information or you keep quiet about something, and as a result you get more Incapacity Benefit than you're supposed to be getting. You can only be asked to pay this penalty if you haven't committed fraud. If you have committed fraud, different rules apply. You can appeal against a decision to impose a civil penalty.
Incapacity Benefit, change of circumstances and fraud
You may commit a benefit fraud if you give incorrect or misleading information, or fail to report a change of circumstances, that could affect your Incapacity Benefit. Even if you are not committing fraud, you can cause an overpayment, that will have to be repaid. Your circumstances can be checked at any time while you are claiming. Benefit fraud is a criminal offence and you can be prosecuted or asked to pay a penalty. If you are being investigated for benefit fraud, your benefit will be suspended. If you committed fraud, your benefit can be reduced or stopped in the future.
For more information on what to do if you are asked to attend an interview under caution, see Problems with benefits and tax credits.
If you are worried about whether you might be suspected of fraud, you are under investigation or you have been convicted, or if you have been asked to repay an overpayment of benefit, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens’ Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.
It's against the law for you to be treated unfairly because of age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy or childbirth, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation when benefits or tax credits are paid to you. Also, the Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs and most local authorities have policies which say they will not discriminate against you because of other things, for example, if you have caring responsibilities. If you feel that you've been discriminated against when you are paid benefits or tax credits, you can make a complaint about this.
For more about discrimination, see our Discrimination pages.