How to successfully complete an ESA form (A guide)

In this blog post, we will guide you on how to successfully complete an ESA form step-by-step.

How to successfully complete an ESA form

To successfully complete an ESA form you must be very patient, to take your time, and to ask for help if you need it.

This blog is written to help you.

Together we will discuss each point on the ESA 50 form and what to write in order to let the DWP understand better your case.

The ESA50 or the Capability for Work questionnaire

A work capability assessment for mental health allows the Department for Work and Pensions to look at how mental conditions affect an employee’s ability to work. 

The Work Capability Assessment (WCA)  is the test used by the British Government’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to distinguish if an individual is eligible for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). 

Work Capability Assessment was made to focus on a person’s capability to work rather than their inability to work and it’s a first positive step towards finding or getting a job for most people. 

Work Capability Assessment was made to differentiate people who couldn’t work due to illness or disability from individuals who are fit for certain jobs or fit with additional support.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)  is a benefit that is given to people who are unable to work due to illness or disability and people

If someone wants to qualify for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), they first have to get the approval of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) so DWP can decide if someone has limited capability to work.

This assessment is done by using Work Capability Assessment (WCA) which determines their eligibility.

Work capability assessment was introduced in 2008th.

By introducing Work capability assessment (WCA), previous assessment Personal Capability Assessment (PCA) was replaced. 

About you 

This is where you need to provide some basic information about yourself, such as first and last name, contact details, address.

Also, if you return this questionnaire later than the deadline, you must explain why.

About your General Practitioner (GP) or doctor’s surgery

This section requires you to list your General Practitioner, one with knowledge of your health condition.

Don’t forget to include their contact information.

About other Healthcare Professionals 

Include the contact details for any carers, friends or relatives who know the most about your disability, illness or health condition. 

They may come with great value to your case if the DWP contacts them, as they know best of how your illness affects your day to day life.

Don’t minimize their importance.

About your disabilities, illnesses or health conditions

This is one of the most important sections in the ESA form, where you have to describe, with as many details and examples as possible, what disabilities, illnesses or health conditions you have and how they are impacting your life. 

Write about any form of help you need for eating, bathing, walking, talking.

Write if you need someone to supervise or remind you of things, write of any medication you are taking.

How your conditions affect you

Part 1: Physical functions 

You have to answer either Yes or No to 10 questions about how your condition affects your physical functions.

Aim to answer as honestly as possible, but don’t minimize the impact of your condition. 

Don’t be embarrassed or fearful to answer the truth.

Keep in mind that you will not be judged for your answers, the DWP is only trying to understand your condition better, in order to help you. 

Part 2: Mental, cognitive and intellectual capabilities 

Part 2 has 7 questions about how your condition affects your mental, cognitive and intellectual capabilities. 

If you have troubles answering these questions may be a friend or your carer can help.

They see things from a different perspective and can perhaps be a great aid in filling this part of the ESA form.

Part 3: Eating or drinking

This part has only 2 simple questions.

Remember to answer as honestly as possible, but also don’t hesitate to describe in great details how your condition affects your eating and drinking behaviour. 

Do not leave the boxes next to the question empty.

I am sure you can find great examples to accompany your answers. 

Face-to-face assessment

After they receive your ESA form, the DWP will arrange a face-to-face assessment with a Healthcare Professional. 

In this section of the ESA 50 form, you have to fill in if you have any special requests for the assessment, such as a translation, interpreter, and any dates you would not be available for the assessment. 

Other information

Fill in this box with any details or examples you think were left unsaid in the previous section.


Don’t forget to sign your ESA form, as it won’t be valid without a signature.

Qualifying for ESA

In order to get an ESA assessment, you have to check for what type of ESA you are eligible for.

There is the “New Style ESA” and the “Income-related ESA”. 

Contribution-based ESA or the “New Style” ESA is awarded to those claimants who have paid sufficient National Insurance (NI) contributions.

The income-related ESA is awarded to those applicants who are on a low income, and it can be awarded either on its own or in addition to contribution-based ESA.

You are eligible for ESA if:

  • You are under the state pension age.
  • You are getting Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).
  • You are not getting Jobseekers Allowance (JSA).

People who get ESA become part of either: 

  1. The work-related activity group (WRAG) – this means that to keep getting ESA, you’ll have to do a work-related activity like go to meetings with work advisers or group sessions to help improve your chances of getting work in future.
  2. The support group – it is not mandatory to do any work-related activity to keep getting your ESA.

The points system

You need to score 15  points in any individual activities, or a total of 15 points for a combination of the physical or mental activities, in order to meet the criterion for limited capability for work.

It’s at this stage the DWP  will consider if it will place you in support or limited capability for work-related activity groups.

If you score below 15 points, you are not entitled to ESA.


In this blog post, we guided you on how to successfully complete an ESA form. 

We discussed each important point of the ESA 50 form and gave you a few tips on what exactly to write in some sections.

The next mandatory step after filling in and sending the ESA form is the face-to-face assessment.

If you have any questions or suggestions in relation to the ESA 50 form, let us know!

FAQ on How to successfully complete an ESA form

What is an ESA 50 form?

An ESA 50 form is called the capability for work questionnaire. 

This questionnaire is your chance to tell the DWP how your illness or disability affects your ability to work.

What happens when ESA stops after a year?

After one year, Contribution-based ESA stops.

After that, you will be reassessed by the DWP in order to establish if your claim can be renewed or not. 

Can your Esa be stopped without notice?

Sometimes yes, your ESA can be stopped without notice.

This may happen if the DWP needs further evidence regarding your case.

You shall be informed of what is the reason for stopping your payments. 

Who is entitled to ESA allowance?

A person entitled to ESA allowance is a person who has a health condition that makes it difficult or impossible to work. 

Does ESA contact your GP?

Yes, the DWP may contact your GP or healthcare professional to obtain medical evidence when you submit a PIP or ESA claim, but in many cases, they will not.

What is the highest rate of ESA?

The highest rate of ESA after 3 April 2017, is up to £73.10 a week.

You can get up to £102.15 a week if you claimed before 3 April 2017, or you’ve been moved onto ESA automatically from Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disability Allowance or Income Support.

Further reading

  1. Employment and Support Allowance: A Guide to ESA for People with a Disability or Long Term Health Condition, Their Families, Carers and Advisors
  2. Social Security Legislation 2019/20 Volume I: Non-Means Tested Benefits and Employment and Support Allowance
  3. Social Security, Medicare and Government Pensions: Get the Most Out of Your Retirement and Medical Benefits
  4. Positive Behavior Supports for Adults with Disabilities in Employment, Community, and Residential Settings
  5. Limited Capability – The Support Group (Social Insecurity Book 5)
  6. Insider’s Guide to Government Benefits