Employment Support Allowance
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a benefit for people who are too unwell to work. This section explains how to claim, how you will be assessed and how to challenge decisions.
- You can get ESA if you cannot work because of your illness.
- 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 to see if you can work. They will normally ask you go to for a health assessment.
- If you are entitled to 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 the DWP decides that 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.
These pages are created by Rethink Mental Illness' Advice and Information Service in accordance with the Information Standard. Last reviewed in September 2015 next review April 2016.
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