How to claim New Style ESA

There are 5 steps to take to apply for New Style Employment and Support Allowance.

Before following these steps, please read our New Style Employment and Support Allowance page to find out more about this government benefit.

Step 1: Check if you are eligible for New Style ESA

To get New Style ESA you must:

  • live in the UK
  • be under State Pension age
  • have a disability or health condition that affects how much you can work.

You must also have worked as an employee or have been self-employed and have paid enough National Insurance contributions or National Insurance credits in the last 2 to 3 years.

If you are working you can claim New Style ESA if you work less than 16 hours a week and you do not earn more than £167 a week.

You cannot get New Style ESA if you get Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) or Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). If you get Statutory Sick Pay you can only apply for New Style ESA if you SSP is going to end in the next 3 months.

You can still apply for ‘credits only’ if you have not worked.  You will get a letter telling you that will not get New Style ESA, but you will have a Work Capability Assessment (see Step 4).

Step 2: Make sure you have the right information to hand

You will need:

  • your name, address and telephone number  
  • your date of birth  
  • your National Insurance number if you have one (you can find this on on letters about tax, pensions and benefits)
  • your bank or building society account number and sort code  
  • your doctor’s name, address and telephone number 
  • a fit note (also known as a sick note).

If you are employed, you will need to know how much money you earn.   

If you are employed, but are not at work because of your disability or health condition and you are getting Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) you will need to know the date your SSP will end.

Step 3: Get someone to help you if you want

If you want some help to apply for New Style ESA, you can:  

  • ask someone you trust to help you    
  • ask a local organisation who helps people with their benefits .

Step 4: Apply for New Style ESA

You can apply for New Style ESA online or by phone.  

If you are an appointee applying on behalf of someone, you must apply for their New Style ESA by phone. 

If you apply online, as well as the information in step 2 you will need an email address.

If you apply online, you will not be able to save your answers and come back to the form.  If you stay on the same page for more than 60 minutes it will time out and you will have to start your application again.
You can apply online on the government website.

By phone 
If you want to claim by phone, contact the Jobcentre Plus new claims helpline. 

•    Phone: 0800 055 6688 
•    Textphone: 0800 328 1344 
•    Relay UK:  18001 then 0800 055 6688. Relay UK helps people who cannot hear or speak on the phone. 

You can contact the Jobcentre Plus new claims helpline Monday to Friday 8am-5pm. 

After you have applied for New Style ESA, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will decide if you need to have a Work Capability Assessment.   

A Work Capability Assessment is used to find out how much your health condition or disability affects your ability to work. It assesses what you can do, as well as what you cannot do.  You’ll be asked questions about how your condition affects you in your day-to-day life. It gives you the opportunity to explain if, and how, your health condition or disability may vary over time.

As part of the assessment, you will be sent a Capability for Work questionnaire (ESA50). You will be asked to send the completed ESA50 questionnaire to the Health Assessment Advisory Service by the date requested on the letter.

You might also have an assessment face-to-face, by phone or by video. If you want some help or support at the Work Capability Assessment it is a good idea to take a friend or family member that you trust with you.  You can also ask for your assessment to be recorded.  

The assessment will include questions about how easy or difficult you find it to do things like:  

  • standing  
  • sitting  
  • understanding information  
  • communicating information  

You should explain if your ability to complete each task varies and if you would need any help or support to do it.  Explain about any pain, tiredness or discomfort you would feel completing each task and if you would be able to do it repeatedly.    

The assessment will help the DWP to work out if you can get New Style ESA and if so, which group you will be placed in:

  • a work-related activity group  
  • a support group 

Step 5: Getting your New Style Employment Support Allowance decision

You will be told whether your claim for New Style ESA has been successful and if so which group you have been placed in.

If you are in the work-related activity group, you will have to go to interviews with a work coach and get ready to go back to work in the future.  

If the DWP find that you have Limited Capability For Work and Work Related Activity (LCWRA), you will be in the support group.  

If you are in the support group, you will not have to go to interviews and do not have to get ready to work in the future.

If you have LCWRA you will not have to have another Work Capability Assessment in the future, for example if you claim Universal Credit.

Before you are paid New Style ESA, you’ll need to accept an agreement called a ‘claimant commitment’. This is a record of what you agree to do to be paid your New Style ESA money. You might be asked to accept your claimant commitment online or at a meeting.

You should only agree to do things that you know you can do.  Let the staff at the jobcentre know if there is anything in the claimant commitment which is too difficult for you to do and ask them to take it out.

If you are in the work-related activity group, you will get New Style ESA for 1 year.

If you are in the support group, there is no time limit for how long you will get New Style ESA. 

Unsuccessful New Style Employment and Support Allowance applications

If your application for New Style ESA is unsuccessful or you are unhappy with the outcome, you should contact the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) within one month of the date of decision to request a mandatory reconsideration.    

You can ask for a mandatory reconsideration over the phone, but we recommend that you do it in writing, so you have a record of your request.  If you need more time, contact the DWP and ask for an extension.    

If your mandatory reconsideration is unsuccessful, you have one month from the date of the mandatory reconsideration decision letter to appeal the decision. The appeal will be looked at by an independent tribunal.    

You can not ask for a mandatory reconsideration about some decisions.  Your decision letter will tell you if this applies to you.  If the decision about your benefit claim can not be reconsidered and you do not agree with it, you should go straight to the appeal stage.    

Visit the government’s website for help with asking for a mandatory reconsideration and requesting an appeal.   


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Frequently asked questions about New Style Employment and Support Allowance

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The information on this page is for guidance only. Mencap hold no responsibility for DWP processes, timescales, decisions, and service.