Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

How to claim

Before you apply check what type of ESA you’re eligible for. How you apply is different for:

  • ‘new style’ ESA
  • income-related ESA and contribution-based ESA

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

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

Apply for ‘new style’ ESA

To apply for ‘new style’ ESA, fill in an NSESAF1 claim form. You can either:

Universal Credit helpline
Telephone: 0800 328 5644 (choose option 2)
Textphone: 0800 328 1344 (choose option 2)
NGT text relay (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 328 5644
Welsh language telephone: 0800 328 1744
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Find out about call charges

If you cannot download the form or use the phone, you can get a claim form from your local Jobcentre Plus.

You can also get the form in an accessible format, for example, braille, large print or audio CD by calling the Universal Credit helpline.

Make an appointment with a work coach

After you’ve filled in the form you need to call the Universal Credit helpline to book an appointment with a work coach at your local Jobcentre Plus. Your appointment will normally take place within 10 working days.

You can get help if your health condition means you need a home visit and cannot get to your local Jobcentre Plus.

The work coach will talk with you about how your illness or disability affects your ability to work and the support you need.

You’ll agree what you need to do to get ‘new style’ ESA, for example have regular meetings with your work coach. This is called a ‘Claimant Commitment’.

What you’ll need to take to your appointment

You’ll need to bring the following to your appointment:

  • your completed NSESAF1 claim form
  • fit note (sometimes called ‘sick note’ or ‘doctor’s note’)
  • proof of your identity
  • proof of address
  • proof of any pensions you get
  • proof of any health insurance payments you get

Check your claim form to see what documents you can use to prove your identity and address.

You’ll be told if you need to bring any other documents to your appointment.

If you’re getting Universal Credit

You need to fill in the NSESAF1 form and then speak to your work coach or case manager about claiming ‘new style’ ESA.

Your existing Claimant Commitment will be updated to include ‘new style’ ESA. You will not have another Work Capability Assessment.

To apply for income-related or contribution-based ESA, you can either:

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

Jobcentre Plus
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

British Sign Language (BSL) video relay service

Watch a video to check you can use the service

Go to the video relay service

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

If you disagree with a decision

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

Reapplying for ESA

You may be able to reapply after your ‘new style’ or contribution-based ESA ends. You must wait until at least 12 weeks have passed before reapplying. You may qualify again depending on:

  • what National Insurance contributions you paid in the last 2 full tax years before the tax year you’re claiming in
  • whether your health deteriorates and you’re placed in the support group