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’).

You may be able to claim Universal Credit. Check you’re eligible for ESA before you apply.

‘New style’ ESA

Apply for new style ESA over the phone.

If you live in a Universal Credit full service area you can claim by calling the full service helpline.

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

If you live anywhere else and you’re eligible for new style ESA, call:

Telephone: 0800 328 9344
Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm

Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Find out about call charges

If you’re not eligible to claim Universal Credit in your area, then you will not be able to claim new style ESA. You may be able to claim contributory or income-related ESA instead.

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

Contact centre
Telephone: 0800 055 6688
Textphone: 0800 023 4888
NGT text relay (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 055 6688
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 are 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’.