ESA reassessment delays 2018 vs 2020

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In this blog post, we explore whether there has been changes in the ESA reassessment process between 2018 versus 2020, admints the Coronavirus Pandemic. 

We will also explore what ESA reassessment is, 

Has there been any changes in ESA reassessment delays 2018 versus 2020?

The major changes in terms of Employment Support Allowance assessment and reassessment as of March 2020 as opposed to the House of Commons Briefing in 2018 include:

Delays in payment of benefits

As the Pandemic hit in early 2020, the Department of work and Pensions made the decision to divert its resources to tackling the Pandemic and outbreak of the novel Coronavirus meaning that tens of thousands of individuals who rely on the ESA awards will be left without receiving any benefits they are entitled due to the delays.

Assessments and reassessments on hold

The Department of work and pensions also announced that they will be withholding or putting on hold all and every face to face assessment or reassessment as a measure against exposure of citizens and personnel to infection from the Novel Coronavirus. 

The DWP also stated that any new claims, and assessments for new claims are also suspended. However if an assessment has been scheduled, the provider will contact the claimant to see how this can be taken forward and if an assessment has already taken place it will be processed.

The DWP also mentioned that if there has been changes in the claimants’ situations, they should contact the DWP to ensure they are receiving the correct level of support.


For awards that are due to expire

In this case, the DWP will be extending end-dates so that claimants can continue to receive financial support at their current rate from March 2020- June 2020- or at least till assessments reopen. 

Eligibility Criteria Updates

The Department of Work and Pensions later updated their eligibility criteria for claiming ESA awards on their website and the process to include the following:

“If you’ve been affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) (DWP, Gov.Uk)

You can apply for ‘new style’ ESA if you’re unable to claim Statutory Sick Pay and one of the following applies:

  • you or your child might have COVID-19 or you’re recovering from it
  • you or your child are self-isolating because you came into contact with someone who might have COVID-19
  • you’ve been advised by your doctor or healthcare professional to self-isolate before going into hospital for surgery
  • you’re quarantining due to rules about returning from abroad
  • If you’re claiming ESA because of COVID-19, you’ll need to give evidence to support your claim.
  • Proof if you’re self-isolating or quarantining because of COVID-19. (DWP, Gov.Uk)

You’ll need to provide proof if you’re self-isolating or quarantining for your ESA claim. You can provide proof by:

  • getting an ‘isolation note’ online from NHS 111 if you’ve been off work for 7 or more days – if you or your child are self-isolating and you cannot work
  • using your notification from the NHS or public health authorities – if you’ve come into contact with someone with COVID-19
  • using the letter confirming the date of your procedure if you’ve been advised by your doctor or healthcare professional to self-isolate before going into hospital for surgery
  • using your travel information – if you’re quarantining after returning from abroad
  • You do not have to go to your doctor or a hospital to get proof. (DWP, Gov.Uk)

Other Benefits

Teh DWP also deemed that the Statutory Sick Pay will be payable for individuals who have been infected by the Novel Coronavirus, and/or are self-isolating on Government advice. 

For Claimants who are also being awarded

The major change for claimants who are already benign awarded ESA is they do not have to attend appointments at the jobcentre and they will receive their benefits as normal. 

In the event that there is need for reassessments, all face to face assessments were suspended and stated that there will be  no new reviews or reassessments across all benefits for three months.

What is ESA reassessment?

An ESA reassessment process is another Work Capability Assessment that occurs at regular intervals to assess the eligibility of Claimants who are already receiving their ESA benefits. 

The intervals at which the individual is reassessed can either be every  3,6,12,18,24 months or within 2 years- for longer term awards. 

The DWP’s Employment and Support Allowance: the Work Capability Assessment detailed guide states that Usually though the time interventions have been mentioned it is based on the decision of the Jobcentre Plus decision-maker. 

It is important to mention that the assessment can be sooner if the decision-maker considers there has been a significant change in the claimant’s health condition or disability.

Reassessment also includes healthcare professionals advice on the assessment report about when it is likely the claimant will be able to return to work.

DWP also announced that ESA claimants in the Support Group and Universal Credit claimants with limited capability for work and work-related activity (LCWRA) will no longer need to be reassessed if they:

  • have a severe, lifelong disability, illness or health condition; and 
  • are unlikely to ever be able to move into work
  • There is no prospect of recovery and functioning. 

What are the Eligibility criteria to get ESA as of 2020?

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.

If you’ve been affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) and 

  • you or your child might have COVID-19 or you’re recovering from it
  • you or your child are self-isolating because you came into contact with someone who might have COVID-19
  • you’ve been advised by your doctor or healthcare professional to self-isolate before going into hospital for surgery
  • you’re quarantining due to rules about returning from abroad (DWP, Gov. UK.)

If you’re claiming ESA because of COVID-19, you’ll need to give evidence to support your claim by providing evidence that you are self-isolating or quarantining because of COVID-19 by getting an ‘isolation note’ online from NHS 111 or through a medical note by your doctor. (DWP, Gov. UK.)

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

  • claim Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • claim Statutory Sick Pay

Conclusion

In this blog post, we explored whether there has been changes in the ESA reassessment process between 2018 versus 2020, admints the Coronavirus Pandemic. 

We will also explore what ESA reassessment is and the criteria for eligibility for ESA. 

FAQ related to ESA assessment delays 2018 vs 2020

How long do DWP decision makers take 2021?

Due to unseen events- such as a global pandemic- there has been a delay. 

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 due to the pandemic. 

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.

Will I be reassessed for ESA?

As of September 2017, reassessments are no longer required for individuals who have ESA claims for severe lifelong disabilities, illness, or health conditions. 

How long does it take to hear back from 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.

How often is ESA reviewed?

The intervals at which the individual is reassessed can either be every  3,6,12,18,24 months or within 2 years- for longer term awards. 

The DWP’s Employment and Support Allowance: the Work Capability Assessment detailed guide states that Usually though the time interventions have been mentioned it is based on the decision of the Jobcentre Plus decision-maker. 

It is important to mention that the assessment can be sooner if the decision-maker considers there has been a significant change in the claimant’s health condition or disability.

Why is the ESA decision taking so long?

As of 2020, because of COVID-19, it’s taking longer than usual to assess claims. 

References

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

Employment and Support Allowance: the Work Capability Assessment: detailed guide. Gov.Uk. Retrieved on 31st january 2022. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/esa214-a-guide-to-employment-and-support-allowance-the-work-capability-assessment

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