Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.
ESA: Limited Capability for Work

NOTE: Universal Credit is replacing Income-Related ESA.
This means that it is no longer possible for most people to make a new claim for Income-Related ESA (with the exception of claimants who fail the Severe Disability Premium ’gateway condition’).

Contributory ESA is not being replaced by Universal Credit. It is still possible to make a claim for Contributory ESA - click here for more info. 

To be entitled to ESA a claimant must have a limited capability for work.

Anyone making a new claim will need a fit note (ie sick note) from their GP, but the DWP apply their own test, called the Work Capability Assessment, to determine whether someone will remain on ESA. 

Most claimants who are already receiving ESA will need to have review medical assessments, to check that they still fit the criteria for their award to continue / continue at the existing rate.

During the 'assessment phase', unless the claimant is affected by the 'repeat claim' rules, this will be based on the evidence from the claimant’s GP ie the claimant will need to provide a  'fit note' (ie sick note). 

However, to continue getting ESA in the ‘main phase’ the claimant must have been found to have a Limited Capability for Work - ie. they must pass the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), the test which determines eligibility for ESA.

So, during the 13 week 'assessment phase' the claimant will be required to undertake a 'Work Capability Assessment'. The claimant will have to complete an ESA50 questionnaire and most claimants are required to attend a face-to-face medical assessment. (Note that due to delays this process can often take longer - but any additional component / premium due will be paid from week 14 of the claim so claimants would receive an arrears payment). 

Following the medical a report is sent by the medical assessor to the decision maker (DWP), who then decides whether the claimant:- 

  • Has a 'Limited Capability for Work', which means they are in the 'Work-related Activity Group' (WRAG) and (unless affected by the new rules from 3rd April 2017) get the 'Work-related Activity Component' added to their award, or 
  • Has a 'Limited Capability for Work' and a 'Limited Capability for Work-related Activity', which means they are in the 'Support Group' (SG) and get the 'Support Component' added to their award, or 
  • Are fit for work and no longer entitled to ESA.

Find out more about the Work Capability Assessment by clicking on the links below. 


ESA50 Form

Claimants must complete a questionnaire about their health problems - more info here.

The Medical

Most claimants must attend a face-to-face medical examination - details here.

WRAG v Support

Some claimants are put into the Work-related Activity Group and others into the Support Group - why?

Substantial Risk

An important 'safety net' within the Regulations - find out more here.