Employment and Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessments
If you are claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), you are required by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to have a Work Capability Assessment that focuses on how your illness or condition affects you on a day-to-day basis.
ESA has replaced Incapacity Benefit. Everyone who was already claiming incapacity benefits must have a new Work Capability Assessment.
The Work Capability Assessment is one part of the process used by DWP to assess your entitlement to ESA. You will be sent a questionnaire which you need to complete and return to the Health Assessment Advisory Service. After you return the questionnaire, a fully trained Healthcare Professional carries out an initial paper-based assessment. During this early check, the Healthcare Professional will look for information to decide whether or not you will need to have a face-to-face assessment and advise DWP accordingly. The DWP may have enough information to make an immediate decision on your entitlement to benefits.
If DWP does not have enough information to make an immediate decision, you are required by DWP to have a face-to-face assessment. The majority of assessments are carried out in an Assessment Centre. A home visit can be arranged when there is medical evidence confirming you cannot leave your home to attend an Assessment Centre.
During a claim period, it is normal for you to be asked to attend a Work Capability Assessment more than once and each time you will be sent a new questionnaire to ensure you have the opportunity to provide the latest information on how your condition currently affects you.
For more information about Employment and Support Allowance benefits, go to the Government’s website(link is external).
What to Expect
The assessment will look at the effects of any health condition or disability on your ability to carry out a range of everyday activities. It will be carried out by a Healthcare Professional.
The Healthcare Professional will discuss your medical history and activities you undertake in a typical day. This information will be recorded but will not be a word-for-word record.
You can bring extra information or medical information with you to assist the Healthcare Professional with their report. You can bring a companion for help and support who can also supply information.
Where appropriate, you may have a physical examination which is designed to assess your function and is not the same as an examination in a diagnostic or treatment setting with a GP or Consultant.
Your verbal consent will be obtained for any physical examination to proceed, should it be necessary. You are encouraged to do as much of the examination as you feel comfortable with. You will not need to remove items of intimate clothing. A physical examination is not always required.
Once the Healthcare Professional has all the necessary information, your face-to-face interview ends. The Healthcare Professional will then evaluate the information, suggesting the most appropriate descriptors (phrases defined by DWP), and writing a justification of their choices, to complete the Assessment Report for DWP.
The Assessment Report is known as an ESA85 and will be sent electronically to DWP immediately after completion.