Can I claim ESA for Depression and anxiety?

This blog will answer the question “Can I claim ESA for Depression and anxiety?”

The blog will also explore what ESA is, what the eligibility criteria is, as well as the application process for ESA. 

Can I claim ESA for Depression and anxiety?

Yes, you can claim unemployment benefits such as ESA in the UK if you leave your job and become unemployed due to depression and anxiety.

However, for you to claim unemployment you must meet a criteria set by Unemployment laws that evaluate the duration of your employment, steps taken previously to accommodate you condition, your earnings, and the circumstances of your departure.

In countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, Clinical depression and anxiety disorders are considered a disability when it impacts a person’s ability to function and meet the demands of their day to day life. 

For the UK, If your diagnosis of depression and anxiety has rendered you unemployed or unable to work, you can avail or apply for the ‘new style’ ESA if you’ve paid enough National Insurance contributions in the last 2 or 3 years. 

The process of claiming New Style ESA is as follows:

  • submitting a claim for ESA
  • filling out the work capability form (ESA50)
  • Work Capability Assessment (WCA)

New style ESA is assessed the same way as Universal Credit. However, it does not consider the following:

  • your savings
  • your partner’s savings
  • household income (except pensions)

What are the Eligibility criteria to join the ESA Support Group?

The eligibility criteria for availing ESA includes the following. These criteria have been referred from the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) Gov.UK website.

  • You can apply for ‘new style’ Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you’re under State Pension age and you have a disability or health condition that affects how much you can work. In the UK, Anxiety and Depression along with other mental disorders is protected by disability laws so you can apply for ESA. 
  • You also need to have both:
  • worked as an employee or have been self-employed
  • paid enough National Insurance contributions, usually in the last 2 to 3 years – National Insurance credits also count
  • You are eligible if you get Universal Credit, you could get ‘new style’ ESA at the same time however, you get both benefits, your Universal Credit payment is reduced by the amount you get for ‘new style’ ESA.
  • If your Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is due to end

You can apply for ‘new style’ ESA up to 3 months before your SSP ends. You’ll start getting ‘new style’ ESA as soon as your SSP ends.

  • If you’re working

You can apply whether you’re in or out of work. There are conditions to working while claiming ESA.

Note that You cannot get ‘new style’ ESA or is not eligible if you:

  • claim Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • claim Statutory Sick Pay

What is the process of  applying for ESA?

The process of applying for ESA follows the following steps:

You need to check for eligibility as mentioned above.

If you are eligible, you can start your claim by applying online via this link.

You will need the following documents ready:

  • Your National Insurance number
  • Bank account number and sort code
  • Name, address and phone number of your doctor who has diagnosed you with depression and anxiety.
  • Documents and doctors notes related to anxiety and depression diagnosis for your case.
  • Details of income if working at the time of claiming.
  • The date your Statutory Sick Pay ends if you are claiming it

Next, you have to Attend the appointment with your work coach where you must form what is called the Claimant Commitment which details the actions you need to take to get payment. 

Once you have filed for a claim of Employment and Support Allowance, you are sent a Limited Capability for Work (LCW) questionnaire (ESA50) to complete and return.

If you have filed for a claim of Universal Credit and submit sick notes from a medical professional, you will be sent a UC50 to fill out which will take around 3 months after you have filed and handed in your medical notes. 

These questionnaires are sent through work coaches and if you have not received the form after three months, you should ask your work coach to send you one.

If you do not complete this form the DWP will automatically refuse or stop your ESA unless you show ‘good cause’ for failing to return it. 

Next, once you have returned the completed questionnaire you will be asked to attend a medical assessment either in person or you might be assessed over the phone or on a video call if mobility is an issue. 

This medical assessment looks at your responses given on the questionnaire and the verbal and physical evidence that you provide via the assessment. 

If you don’t attend the assessment, it is likely the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will decide that you are fit for work. If you cannot attend an assessment, it is important to contact the assessment centre and rearrange the appointment.

Following this assessment, the healthcare professional will send their report to the DWP for a decision to be made about your claim and whether you are eligible to avail ESA. 

The Department of Work and Pensions include a medical assessment in the process of checking for the eligibility for ESA applicants. 

Some ESA assessment of mental health questions that are generally asked in the assessment interview include questions related to your medical condition such as:

  • What are your medical conditions?
  • How long have you had these conditions?
  • How do these conditions affect you?

What happens after the assessment?

Now, Your completed ESA50, the medical assessment report and any other evidence you have provided will be taken into consideration and reviewed by a decision maker at the DWP. 

During this process the decision maker will determine whether you are sick enough to avail ESA and what group you fall into. 

If your ‘limited capability for work’ test determines that you are eligible, your decision maker will determine whether you have ‘limited capability for work related activity’ or not.

This particular process should take 4-6 weeks since you filed your claim if there is no change in process and no issues that hinder the process. 

If you haven’t heard anything after 8 weeks from the date of your assessment, contact the DWP to ask them what’s happening. You can ask them by:

  • writing to the address on any ESA letters you’ve received
  • calling Jobcentre Plus at Telephone: 0800 169 0310 or Textphone: 0800 169 0314

Based on your assessment you will be assigned to two groups- 

  • A work-related activity group: This is to prepare employees who with some support are able to return to work.
  • A support group: This group is for people who are unable to return to work due to their illness of disability.

At times the DWP also do at-home assessments if the claimant’s illnesses or disability make it difficult for them to travel and move; however, they will ask individuals to provide information from a medical professional supporting their request for a home visit.

If you fail to attend an appointment for a medical assessment, they will investigate your reasons for not attending. If the reason is not a good cause, ESA will be disallowed and benefits stopped.

Then, you will get a letter telling you if you’ll get ‘new style’ ESA and how much.

Once you start getting your ESA, you will have to Give updates about your health and circumstances. 

How long do decision making take after an ESA assessment?

In the most ideal situation, if you have completed your questionnaire and your assessment, and you have provided evidence of your need for ESA, you should receive your decision from the decision maker in about four to six weeks after the assessment.

However, there is a possibility, due to unseen events- such as a global pandemic- that there could be an exception to this time period. 

Statistics from the Department of work and pension say that as of recent years assessment decisions are now taking as long as 14- 19 weeks due to the increase in people who have become unemployed and are struggling with mental and physical disability.

What happens after the ESA award claim is won?

If you have won your claim to the ESA award for depression and anxiety you will be sent to the ESA support group. 

In the ESA support group for mental health, people with disabling mental health conditions that are never enough that they are in no condition to work are present. 

In this ESA support group for mental health there will be no interviews or activities as it will be unreasonable to require people in this ESA support group for mental health to work whilst they claim ESA.

People in this ESA support group for mental health will have periodic medical assessment reviews which are usually every three years at a maximum. This is done to see if their condition has improved and they can now resume work. 

Depending on the outcome of your medical assessment you could then be removed from the  ESA support group for mental health which required you to not attend any interviews or meetings and be placed in the work-related  ESA support group.

If you have been put in the work-related ESA support group after your assessment finds that you are capable of working, you will have to engage in a work-related activity.

The DWP will usually let you know if there are any suitable work-related activities within the region you are in which you can join.

Conclusion

This blog has answered the question “Can I claim ESA for Depression and anxiety?”

The blog has also explored what ESA is, what the eligibility criteria is, as well as the application process for ESA. 

FAQ related to Can I claim ESA for Depression and anxiety?

Can you get ESA for anxiety and depression?

Yes, you can claim the esa for depression as well as for stress, anxiety, and other mental health conditions provided you fit the criteria and have the required documents including a fit note. 

Does depression count for ESA?

Yes, Depression diagnosed by a clinical professional does count when claiming ESA. 

Can I claim a new style of ESA for depression?

Yes, you can claim the new style esa for depression as well as for stress, anxiety, and other mental health conditions provided you fit the criteria and have the required documents including a fit note. 

Can you get ESA without an assessment?

No. You cannot get ESA without an assessment. Both steps of the assessment process are crucial to assess and confirm the claims of the individual who has applied for esa.

In case you cannot attend the assessment, and for good reason, it is possible that you can inform the DWP and perhaps arrange an inhouse interview and assessment if possible. 

However, if you do not have a valid reason for not going to the assessment your esa claim will be rejected and the process stopped. 

References

Benefits and mental health. ScopeOrgUK. Retrieved on 31st January 2022. https://www.scope.org.uk/advice-and-support/benefits-and-mental-health/#Benefits-and-mental-health-click

Does Depression Make You Eligible for Disability? Verywell Mind. Retrieved on 31st january 2022. https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/does-depression-make-you-eligible-for-disability

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Gov.UK.  Retrieved on 31st january 2022. https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance/print

What is an ESA assessment? Healthassured.  Retrieved on 31st january 2022. 

https://www.healthassured.org/blog/employment-and-support-allowance-esa-assessment/

ESA Support Group: Eligibility and rates.homecare uk. Retrieved on 31st january 2022. https://www.homecare.co.uk/advice/esa-support-group-eligibility-and-rates

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