Eligibility for health-related income benefits in the United Kingdom is now determined through the use of functional assessments conducted by healthcare professionals. Claimant satisfaction with both Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Work Capability Assessments (WCA) has been mixed and concerns have been raised that mental health conditions are not well-understood in this context, but academic research has so far been limited. Individuals with a range of common mental disorders and severe mental illness were interviewed (n=18) about their experiences of undergoing eligibility assessments for health-related income benefits. Data were analysed using a thematic analysis approach.
Eleven out of the 18 participants had been turned down for one or more income benefits and successful claims were more likely where supported by health and care professionals. Eligibility assessments were overwhelmingly perceived as focusing on physical health with limited scope to explore the impact of mental health on functioning. Evidence from this and other studies suggests that improvements are needed to the eligibility assessment process for all claimants but particularly those with a mental health condition.