How to claim ESA for depression

ESA is a welfare payment for adults younger than that of the State Pension age who are having difficulty finding work because of a long-term medical condition or disability. It is a basic income replacement benefit paid out in place of wages. Claimants will not be paid ESA if they are entitled to receive Statutory Sick Pay.

How to claim ESA for depression

A vast majority of applications for ‘new style’ ESA are claims for stress, depression and anxiety.

You have to collect a medical certificate (fit note) from your GP or medical specialist before making a claim with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

It is worth noting there may be overlapping issues if the claimant is already receiving other benefits.

If an applicant scores 15 points in any individual activities (or a total of 15 points for a combination of physical or mental activities) they have met the criteria for limited capability work.


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At this stage, the decision-maker will consider if it places the claimant in a support or limited capability for work-related activities.

If a claimant scores below 15 points, they are not classed as having limited capability to work and so are not entitled to ESA.

To get ESA, you need to have both:

  • Worked as an employee or been self-employed
  • Paid enough National Insurance contributions, usually in the last 2-3 years. National Insurance credits also count.


  • Universal Credit and other benefit payments may be affected this week

You cannot get ESA if you:

  • Get the severe disability premium, or are entitled to receive it
  • Get or were entitled to the severe disability premium in the last month, and you are still eligible for it

There are different ways to apply for ESA depending on whether or not you receive Universal Credit payments.

If you are already getting Universal Credit, sign in to your Universal Credit account and send a message to your case manager on your online journal. You will not need another Work Capability Assessment for this step.

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Additionally, the Government website states: “If you have made an appointment with your work coach, you do not need to go to it at the moment because of coronavirus.

“The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will contact you to let you know what you need instead.

If you are not receiving Universal Credit, you can apply for ‘new style’ ESA online, and you will need:

  • Your National Insurance number
  • Your bank or building society account number and sort code (you can use a friend or family member’s account if you do not have one)
  • Your doctor’s name, address and telephone number
  • Details of your income if you are working
  • The date your Statutory Sick Pay ends if you are claiming it

If you cannot make an application online or you are an appointee for someone else, call the Universal Credit helping.

You can also challenge a decision about your claim. This is called asking for ‘mandatory reconsideration’.

You may be able to reapply after your ESA ends. You must wait until at least 12 weeks have passed before reapplying.

You may qualify again depending on:

What National Insurance contributions you paid in the last 2 full tax years before the tax year you’re claiming in
Whether your health deteriorates and you’re placed in the support group

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