This page is intended as a guide of things to consider while filling out your ESA50 Form for Employment & Support Allowance (ESA)

What is an ESA50?

The ESA50 is the number of a form form used to assess your Limited Capability for Work & Work Related Activity

Why have I been asked to complete one?

You have been asked to complete one so your capabilities can be assessed for one of two reasons. 1) You are claiming ESA for the first time or 2) Your case is under review, this review can happen at any time after three months has passed from the last decision. Normally when a decision is made a time for review is set, this time is different depending on your specific case.

The Guide

Before you start

Before you start it is worth reviewing the main section on ESA to check your eligibility for the benefit and to learn more about it.

You should also be aware that the DWP also produce a guide you may find helpful when completing your ESA50 and it is called theESA40.

The law

Your eligibility for ESA is based on many laws, the main law is The Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2013 that came into effect on the 29th April 2013. The more you understand about the law the better your application will be. However this legislation is lengthy so in the guide I will show you the five sections you really should pay attention to.

Firstly you need to understand that ESA does not come down to simply being eligible or not. Actually there are three outcomes:

1) You are not eligible
2) You are eligible to be placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG)
3) You are eligible to be placed in the Support Group (SG)

This effects the amount of benefit you are entitled to and what you are required to do while you are getting the benefit.

Depending on your circumstances you may be eligible for Income Based (IB) ESA, this depends on, yes you guessed it, your family income.
If you are not eligible for Income Based (IB) you may be eligible for Contribution Based (CB) ESA and this is depended on your National Insurance Condributions.

Terminology

It is very worth while to learn the terminology used for ESA as it will help you understand ESA and communicate about it to relevant parties.

As I said if you are eligible for ESA there are two groups, the Support Group (SG) and the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG). Which group you will be in depends upon your capability, so your group says something about your capability.

If you are in the Support Group (SG) you have been assessed as having “Limited Capability for Work Related Activity”
If you are in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) you have been assessed as having “Limited Capability for Work” (But crucially you have been assessed as having capability for “Work Related Activity” hence why people in the group have to take part in mandatory Work Related Activities)

It all depends on what the DWP deem you to be capable and incapable of doing. Generally speaking people in the Support Group have been assessed to have less capability to do things than people in the Work Related Activity Group.

The Law the Groups are based on

As I have said previously your capability will be assessed against the law and specificity against certain hypothetical tests called “descriptors” that are designed to determine if you would be able to do something or not and what effect it will have on you if you do.

The Law for the Support Group

The law is contained within The Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2013.

The regulation applicable to this group is Regulation 30 of The Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2013 which states:

“By reason of a claimant’s physical or mental condition, at least one of the descriptors set out in Schedule 3 applies to the claimant, the claimant has limited capability for work-related activity and the limitation must be such that it is not reasonable to require that claimant to undertake such activity. A descriptor applies to a claimant if that descriptor applies to the claimant for the majority of the time or, as the case may be, on the majority of the occasions on which the claimant undertakes or attempts to undertake the activity described by that descriptor.”

You now need to read the “descriptors” in Schedule 3 and decide if you meet any of these criteria.

If you believe you meet one of these “descriptors” then you believe you should be treated as having “limited capability for work related activity”. (It is worth reading the rest ofRegulation 30 as it contains a little more detail of exactly how to apply the “descriptors” depending on your level of capability.

If you do not meet any of these “descriptors” then you probably will not be entitled to entry into the Support Group. However there is another Regulation that applies to more serious cases and if this applies you can be placed into the Support Group without meeting any of the “descriptors” in Schedule 3. This is Regulation 31 (2) which states:

A claimant who does not have limited capability for work-related activity as determined in accordance with regulation 30(1) is to be treated as having limited capability for work-related activity if—

(a) the claimant suffers from some specific disease or bodily or mental disablement; and

(b) by reason of such disease or disablement, there would be a substantial risk to the mental or physical health of any person if the claimant were found not to have limited capability for work-related activity.

So first of all, in part (a), the claimant must suffer from some sort of specific disease or bodily or mental disablement. My interpretation of that legislation is that Fibromyalgia would fit that criteria as Fibromyalgia is a specific condition that can be diagnosed by an accepted criteria. Secondly in part (b) because of this disease or disablement there would be a substantial risk to your health either mentally or physically if you were not found to have limited capability for work related activity. So you need to decide if there would be a substantial risk to your health if you were not placed in the Support Group? This section does not supply a lot of information about what would be deemed as a substantial risk to your health so it is up to you to show there would be a substantial risk and the reasons for it.

So if neither of these Regulations apply then you are not eligible for entry into the Support Group (SG) and you will not be treated as having Limited Capability for Work Related Activity. However you may be entitled to be in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) if you meet the conditions the in the law related to that group, is so you will be treated as having Limited Capability for work.

The Law for the Work Related Activity Group

The law is contained within The Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2013.

The regulation applicable to this group is Regulation 15 of The Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2013 which states:

A claimant’s capability for work is limited by the claimant’s physical or mental condition and, if it is, whether the limitation is such that it is not reasonable to require the claimant to work is to be determined on the basis of a limited capability for work assessment of the claimant in accordance with this Part. The limited capability for work assessment is an assessment of the extent to which a claimant who has some specific disease or bodily or mental disablement is capable of performing the activities prescribed in Schedule 2 or is incapable by reason of such disease or bodily or mental disablement of performing those activities.”…. and “A claimant has limited capability for work if, by adding the points listed in column (3) of Schedule 2 against each descriptor listed in that Schedule which applies in the claimant’s case, the claimant obtains a total score of at least 15 points”

You now need to read the “descriptors” in The Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2013 Schedule 2 and decide if you meet any of these criteria and if you do does the score equal 15 or more?

If you believe you score more than 15 points and you believe you should be treated as having “Limited Capability for Work Related Activity”. (I would then read the rest of Regulation 15 of The Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2013 as it contains a little more detail of exactly how to apply the “descriptors” depending on your level of capability.)

If you believe you do not have “Limited Capability for Work” or “Limited Capability for Work Related Activity” so far than you are unlikely to be eligible for Employment & Support Allowance. You need to check if you believe you would be entitled for Disability Living Allowance & Job Seekers Allowance.

What have you learnt now and how is that applicable to you ESA50?

You have learnt the three things that can happen on your form.

You have learnt that if you are entitled to ESA your condition will fit into one of two groups.

You have learnt the names of the two groups and what membership of the group says about your capability.

You have learnt which descriptors are used for each group and you should be able to decide which group you think you should be in.

Now you can apply for ESA and you know all about the law and descriptors you will need to show or “evidence” while you are filling in the form

The Form step by step

Page 1

Read the front cover of the form that will tell you more about filling it in and what to do if you need help.

Fill in your Names, Title, Address, Date of Birth & National Insurance number

Page 2

Fill in your Daytime, Mobile and other Telephone number.

If you do not understand English or Welsh, or cannot talk easily in these languages, do you need an interpreter?

Tick YES or NO (Filling in your language if YES)

(WELSH LANGUAGE FORM VERSION: Would you like your telephone call in Welsh? Tick YES or NO, Would you like your face-to-face assessment in Welsh? Tick YES or NO)

Tell us about any help you would need if you have to go for a face-to-face assessment.

This is the first time in the form that the descriptors come into play. Make sure when you answer this question you tell them about any help you need but remember what your descriptors are, for example if you are claiming you can not walk at all you will need wheelchair access, maybe a wheelchair, help with stairs etc etc. Under certain circumstance ATOS will cover your transport costs but you have to prove you needed transport. They can provide a taxi, again you have to prove there is no other way for you to get there. They can do home assessments but you have to prove to them that you can not attend an assessment centre. If any of these are the case or you have any other specific needs you MUST write them here now.

Tell us about any times or dates in the next 3 months when you cannot go to a face-to-face assessment.

As the question says, tell them dates and times you can not attend an assessment. This is very important as they have written internal procedures that come into force if you miss an appointment or even if you have to re-arrange one so to keep this to a minimum make sure you give them every date and time you can not attend an assessment. If you have sent your form and you start to make plans for specific days for example a holiday, then consider sending them a brief letter to keep them informed.

Page 3

About your illnesses or disabilities

Please use the space on this page to tell us what your illness, disability or condition is, how it affects you, and when it started. If your condition varies over time, tell us how. Please also tell us about any aids you use, such as a wheelchair or hearing aid, anything else you think we should know about your illness or disabilities.

This is your opportunity to tell them everything you can about your condition apart from how you do day to day things. Make sure you take this opportunity, use the questions between commas as a mental list to remind you what you need to place in this box. If you need more space use page 17 or a separate sheet of paper. Although you may have Fibromyalgia people suffer the different aspects of the condition with differing severity. Here you can list the aspects of the condition and explain how severe they are, such as Fatigue, Pain, Brain Fog, Restless Leg, Sensitivities to Temperature, Light, Sound. Most people with Fibromyalgia have problems with other conditions too, it can be easy to talk about them as Fibromyalgia in general life but you need to refer to these separate conditions here. For example, Migranes, IBS, Constipation, Arthritis, Deficiencies, Hormone Problems, Sight Problems, Hearing Problems, Mobility effecting conditions. Any mental health problems like depression, anxiety, stress, disorders. Any learning difficulties.

WORK IN PROGRESS

This article is in much demand I have taken the rare decision to publish it live while it is in draft form. Therefore there will be spelling mistakes (Yes, even more than usual) and it will only be partially completed. However everything so far can be used and check back over the next few days for more. For more help use this GUIDE from the Citizens Advice Bureaux