What is the best helpline number for ESA?

*This website advises that calls to 084 numbers cost 7p/min plus your phone provider’s access charge.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a working-age benefit which can be claimed by sick and disabled people who are unable to work, or who have limited capacity to work, due to their health condition/s. There are two different types of ESA; contribution-based ESA, which can be claimed by people who have paid a sufficient amount of National Insurance, and income-based, which can be claimed on its own or on top of contribution-based ESA if your income is sufficiently low.

You can open your claim for ESA by calling either the Universal Credit service centre (if you are eligible for Universal Credit) or the Jobcentre Plus contact centre (if you are not). You will need to open your claim during the phone call, which could take up to about 40 minutes, so it may be helpful to make sure you set some time aside. The ESA number is open 8am-6pm Monday to Friday, and in addition to the standard numbers, there is also a Textphone service for Deaf or hard-of-hearing people, and a Welsh language service.

Before You Call ESA

When you call the ESA contact number you will need to have to hand:
• Your National Insurance Number
• Your bank account details
• Your medical certificate/Fitness to Work note from your GP
• Your GP’s address and phone number
• Your own home address, including phone number, and your phone or mobile number
• Details of your mortgage if you own your own home, or landlord and lease if you rent
• A recent council tax bill
• Name and contact details for your employer or most recent employer, with dates of employment or the last day you worked
• Details of any other income you have e.g. benefits, sick pay etc.

What Happens After Calling the ESA Helpline?

After this phone call, the contact centre will send you a form that you need to fill in and send back to make your claim for ESA. You should send any evidence of your health condition – such as appointment or diagnosis letters or reports – in to accompany the form. Once you have made your claim, it may take up to 13 weeks for your claim to be decided. If it takes more than that, then, if your claim is successful, you will be given payments backdated to the 14th week after your claim was submitted.

It is very likely that you will be invited to a Work Assessment appointment with a health professional before your claim is decided. Along with the medical evidence you submit, this is how the DWP will decide whether you are able to work or not.

If your claim is successful, you will be placed either in the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG), where you will need to undertake some mandatory work-related activity, such as attending training courses, to prepare you for getting back into work to keep receiving your benefit, or into the Support Group, where you can ask for support to get back into work, but do not need to do so as a condition of receiving the payments.


What happens if the Work Assessment finds me fit for work, and I disagree?

Initially, you need to ask for a Mandatory Reconsideration of the Decision. If the initial decision is upheld, and you still disagree with it, then you can appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal.

What if I need the claim form in an alternative format, such as large print or braille?

You need to let the assessor at the contact centre know this when you call to open your claim, and they will be able to provide it to you in the necessary format.

If I am awarded contribution-based ESA, am I able to do any kind of work at all without losing my benefit payments?

If you are put in the WRAG group, you can work for up to 16 hours a week as long as you are earning less than £115.50 a week for up to 52 weeks without it affecting your benefit payments. If you are put into the Support Group, you can continue to do this kind of work indefinitely without it affecting your benefit payments. You can always call the ESA phone number if you have additional enquires.

Does Voluntary Work Affect My ESA Benefits

Voluntary work of any kind should not affect your benefit payments.

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