Employment Support Allowance
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a benefit for people who are too unwell to work. This factsheet explains how to claim ESA, how you will be assessed and how to challenge decisions.
- You can get ESA if you cannot work because of your illness.
- There are 2 types of ESA: contribution-based and income-related.
- To claim ESA you need a ‘fit note’ from your GP that says you are unwell.
- The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will ask you to fill in a form with questions about your health. This is to see if you can work. You will normally have to go for a health assessment.
- If you get ESA, the DWP will put you in the ‘work-related activity group’ or the ‘support group’. This depends on how difficult it is for you to work.
- In the work-related activity group (WRAG), you have to go to meetings to talk about what support you need to work.
- In the support group, you don’t have to go to meetings and you get more money than you get in the WRAG.
- If you can’t get ESA then you may have to claim Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) instead.
- If you disagree with a decision about ESA, you can ask the DWP to look at it again. You can appeal if you do not agree with their second decision.
This section covers:
- What is Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)?
- How can I claim?
- What is the Work Capability Assessment?
- What are the groups of ESA?
- What is the Work Programme?
- What is permitted work?
- Can I appeal if I think a decision is wrong?
- What if I have a relative who refuses to claim benefits?
- Do I need to speak to a benefits adviser?
These pages are created by Rethink Mental Illness' Advice and Information Service. Last reviewed in March 2017. Next review due October 2019.
Need practical advice & info? We can help.
Contact our Advice team about mental health & related issues
0300 5000 927 Monday - Friday 9.30am - 4pm, not including bank holidays