How to claim

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.

What you need to apply

You’ll need:

  • your National Insurance number
  • your bank or building society account number and sort code (you can use a friend or family member’s account if you do not have one)
  • your doctor’s name, address and telephone number
  • details of your income if you’re working
  • the date your Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) ends if you’re claiming it

You cannot get ‘new style’ ESA if you’re getting Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from an employer. You can apply for ‘new style’ ESA up to 3 months before your SSP ends.

If you’re applying because of COVID-19, you’ll also need:

  • an ‘isolation note’ if you’re unable to work because of COVID-19
  • your notification from the NHS or public health authorities if you’ve been told to self-isolate because you’ve come into contact with someone with COVID-19
  • a letter confirming the date of your procedure if you’ve been advised to self-isolate before going into hospital for surgery
  • your travel information if you’re quarantining because you’ve recently returned from abroad

Once you’ve applied, you’ll be contacted by phone and told when to give the evidence and where to send it.

Apply online for ESA

Apply now

When you can apply by phone

Call the Universal Credit helpline if:

  • you cannot make an application online
  • you’re an appointee for someone

Universal Credit helpline

Telephone: 0800 328 5644 (choose option 3)
Textphone: 0800 328 1344 (choose option 3)
Relay UK (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

After you apply

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will contact you within 10 working days of applying.

If you’re eligible

DWP will contact you within 10 working days to schedule an appointment that you must attend. It will normally be over the phone with a work coach from your local Jobcentre Plus office.

Your work coach will explain what you need to do to get ‘new style’ ESA. They will create an agreement with you called a ‘Claimant Commitment’.

You must agree to your Claimant Commitment before you can get ‘new style’ ESA.

At the appointment, you’ll be asked to:

If you’re not eligible

DWP will send you a letter within 10 working days of applying to explain why you’re not eligible for ESA.

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 cannot make a new claim for income-related ESA. You’ll continue to get payments while you’re eligible until your claim ends.

You may be able to reapply after your ‘new style’ ESA ends. 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 you’re placed in the support group because you developed a new condition or your health deteriorated