How to claim

Check what type of ESA you’re eligible for before you apply.

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

There are different ways to apply depending on what type of ESA you’re applying for and if you’re already getting Universal Credit.

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

Apply for ‘new style’ ESA

There are different ways to apply depending on if you get Universal Credit.

If you’re already getting Universal Credit, speak to your work coach or case manager about applying. You can do this by signing in to your Universal Credit account. You will not have another Work Capability Assessment.

If you have made an appointment with your work coach, you do not need to go to it at the moment because of coronavirus (COVID-19). The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will contact you to let you know what you need to do instead.

If you’re not already getting Universal Credit, you’ll need to phone the Universal Credit helpline to arrange a new claim.

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 Video relay service for British Sign Language (BSL) users - check you can use the service
Welsh language telephone: 0800 328 1744
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Find out about call charges

Your ESA interview

You’ll get a text, phone call or letter within 10 working days to arrange your telephone interview after you’ve applied.

During your telephone interview, you’ll be asked a few questions to prove your identity. 

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

Make an agreement to look for work (‘Claimant Commitment’)

You’ll agree what you need to do to get ‘new style’ ESA, for example agree to report any change of circumstances to your work coach. This is called a ‘Claimant Commitment’.

Most people cannot make new claims for income-related or contribution-based ESA anymore - check your eligibility before you apply.

To apply for income-related or contribution-based ESA, you can call Jobcentre Plus to apply by phone.

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 Video relay service for British Sign Language (BSL) users - check you can use the service\
Welsh language telephone: 0800 012 1888
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Find out about call charges

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