How to claim

The quickest way to apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is by phone. The number you call depends on which type of ESA you’re applying for.

After you phone, you’ll need to send your fit note (sometimes called ‘sick note’ or ‘doctor’s note’).

Check if you’re eligible for Universal Credit. If you are, you could get Universal Credit at the same time or instead of ‘new style’ ESA.

You can only apply for contribution-based and income-based ESA if you either:

  • get the severe disability premium
  • got the severe disability premium within the last month and you’re still eligible for it

If not, you can only apply for ‘new style’ ESA.

‘New style’ ESA

Apply for ‘new style’ ESA over the phone.

Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Find out about call charges

Call the contact centre to apply for contribution-based and income-related ESA.

Contact centre
Telephone: 0800 169 0350
Textphone: 0800 023 4888
NGT text relay (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 169 0350
Welsh language telephone: 0800 012 1888
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Find out about call charges

You can also fill in and print out the ESA1 form and send or take it to your local Jobcentre Plus office.

Call the contact centre to ask for accessible formats of the ESA1 form, such as braille, large print or audio CD.

There’s a different way to apply in Northern Ireland.

British Sign Language (BSL) video relay service

To use this, you’ll need to:

  1. Check you can use the service.

  2. Go to the video relay service.

The video relay service is available Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

What you’ll need when you make your claim

You’ll need the following:

  • National Insurance number
  • fit note (sometimes called ‘sick note’ or ‘doctor’s note’)
  • GP’s address and phone number
  • home and mobile telephone numbers
  • mortgage or landlord details
  • Council Tax Bill
  • employer’s address and telephone number and dates of employment or last day worked
  • bank account details
  • details of any other money you’re getting, such as benefits or sick pay

If you disagree with a decision

You can challenge a decision about your claim. This is called asking for ‘mandatory reconsideration’.