DWP confirms new style ESA face-to-face assessments will resume – rules explained

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ESA is a fortnightly payment awarded to those who face limitations for getting into work it can be claimed on its own or, alongside Universal Credit. To be eligible for ESA, claimants will need to go through an assessment process and guidance on this was updated today by the DWP.

To be eligible for the new style ESA, claimants will need to have been an employee or self-employed and have paid National Insurance contributions, usually covering the previous two to three years.

Additionally, claimants may need to have a fit or sick note but claims can be started before one is given.

ESA can be claimed on its own or at the same time as a Universal Credit claim and if both are awarded, ESA payments will reduce Universal Credit income by the same amount.

Claims are made online and following this, a continuous assessment process will be followed.

Following an initial application, claimants will usually work with a work coach to determine what actions are needed from the claimant to continue to get payments.

Claimants will need to keep the Government regularly updated with information on their condition(s) and this will initially be done through a ESA50 form.

The DWP will post this form out within four weeks of an initial payment and it must be completed and returned to the state within 28 days.

Following this, claimants may be asked to go through a “Work Capability Assessment” and the rules on these assessments have been altered today.

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Over the last year or so, most face-to-face benefit assessments like these have been halted (or at least reduced) in the face of coronavirus but today, the DWP confirmed Work Capability Assessments have resumed, at least for some claimants.

DWP’s updated guidance details the following: “After you return your ESA50 form you may be asked to go to an assessment, called a ‘Work Capability Assessment’.

“You will be contacted to arrange a date and time for the assessment.

“The Work Capability Assessment is used to find out how much your health condition, disability or illness affects your ability to work. It assesses what you can do, as well as what you cannot do.

“You’ll be asked questions about how your condition affects you in your day to day life.

“It gives you the opportunity to explain if, and how, your health condition or disability may vary over time.

“Assessments can be in person, by video call or on the phone. You’ll be told how your assessment will take place.

“You’ll stay on the ‘assessment rate’ until a decision can be made on your Work Capability Assessment.

“If you’re claiming both new style ESA and Universal Credit you’ll only have to attend one Work Capability Assessment.”

The assessment phase payments will depend on age, with those aged between 18 and 24 getting up to £59.20 per week.

Those aged 25 or over will get up to £74.70 a week.

Claimants may be moved into the main phase, where the basic allowance (standard rate) pays upto £74.70 per week, with a potential support component boosting this by £39.40.

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