How to fill in limited capability for work questionnaire for depression

In this article, we are going to guide you on how to fill in limited capability for work questionnaire for depression.

How to fill in limited capability for work questionnaire for depression

 To fill in limited capability for work questionnaire for depression you have to first have received the ESA 50 claim form, from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

You will receive it in your post after 2 or 3 months after applying for the ESA benefit.

You have one month (4 weeks) to fill in the form after the date it was posted to you. So, the most important advice one could give you is to take your time, do not hurry and ask for support in filling the questionnaire.

Truth is, sometimes others know us best, and the help of a friend or a mental health provider can weigh a lot in the process of claiming ESA. 

Can you claim ESA for depression?

It is possible to claim ESA for depression if this condition, among other consequences, prevents you from working.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), is a financial benefit awarded to those who cannot work because of an illness or a disability.

The main goal is to support the individual while he or she is in treatment or recovery.

Many claims for ESA are for depression, work-related stress and anxiety, and other mental health issues.

What you have to do in order to start the application process is to collect a medical certificate (fit note) from a medical specialist.

After you get the fit note, you can make an ESA claim with the DWP.

How long does it take to get ESA for depression?

It can take a few months before you hear anything from the DWP about your claim for ESA. 

However, if you are a first-time applicant the DWP can send you some money straight away.

This happens only when they believe they only do this if they believe the claimant will be eligible for ESA.

To help your case, don’t forget to send a fit note from your GP, along with the claim form.

This can seriously speed up the entire process.

The limited capability for work questionnaire for depression

A work capability assessment for depression allows the Department for Work and Pensions to look at how this mental health condition affects 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. 

Most people who have depression see Work Capacity Assessment working against people who are having difficulties to find jobs and every attempt to develop employable skills is considered as evidence of fitness for work.

Being unemployed in combination with having a mental health condition, causes individuals to experience mental health stigma in everyday life.

Individuals who suffer from depression experience problems in education as well because receiving Employment and Support Allowance is not possible for students. 

People are trying to fit these assumptions because most of them volunteer for personal benefits like socializing and meeting new people, getting out of their comfort zone and learning new ways to deal with problems and that doesn’t make them capable of work. 

The aim of the limited capability for work questionnaire for depression is to build an accurate picture of a person’s current state and needs.

It assesses their physical and mental health to determine how it affects their ability to work. 

When filling the ESA50 questionnaire, the claimant can make a note about the need to speak to an expert in mental health.

While this isn’t guaranteed, the DWP is likely to take this into account.

It’s worth noting, they’ll have four weeks to fill and return the form to the DWP.

If an employee requires more time, they must contact the DWP explaining how much more time they need and why.

Most sections of the ESA 50 questionnaire are very simple to fill in.

You must provide information about yourself, such as your first and last name, contact address, last name and contact details of your GP or other healthcare providers.

In this guide, I’d like to talk about the most important part of the limited capability for work questionnaire for depression:

How your condition affects 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 depression has on your body functions.

Don’t be embarrassed or fearful and write in as many details as possible.

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. 

For example, here is the perfect place to mention how hard it is for you to concentrate or get out of bed because of depression.

Also, do not ignore other typical symptoms of depression that you may have, such as headache, a state of lethargy, complete lack of energy, or muscle aches.

Other Physical Symptoms of Depression:

  • Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning or oversleeping
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained
  • Headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.
  • Feeling like always in slow motion

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.

Some of the Emotional and Cognitive Symptoms of Depression include:

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent
  • Feelings of extreme sadness
  • Not liking oneself
  • Feeling like life is not worth living
  • Trouble focusing, making decisions or remembering things.
  • Fuzzy thinking
  • Feelings of not performing well at work, not being good enough, etc. 
  • Lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.

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 depression 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. 

For example, it is well known that depression can cause an eating disorder or substance abuse, such as alcohol or nicotine abuse.

Do not be ashamed/scared to mention this.

Other information

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

This is a great opportunity to describe to the DWP how depression really has changed your life.

Other depression symptoms that may be of use to you in filling the limited capability for work questionnaire:

  • Substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
  • Restlessness and feeling on edge
  • Loss of intimacy with a partner
  • No interest in moving from couch or bed


In this article, we gave you advice on how to fill in limited capability for work questionnaire for depression in order to be successful with your ESA claim.

You now know that many apply for ESA benefits because of their mental health conditions and that it is possible to claim benefits for depression.

While you are waiting for the DWP to deliver a decision regarding your claim, don’t forget to take care of yourself.

Managing depression by yourself can be hard, so do not hesitate to ask for professional help.

Do not stop to seek treatment only because you have applied for the ESA benefit. 

Please feel free to ask any questions or to leave a comment on the content. 

FAQ on How to fill in limited capability for work questionnaire for depression

How do you fill in a capability for work questionnaire?

To fill in a capability for work questionnaire you have to take your time and answer honestly all the questions in the ESA 50 form.

There are questions about you, about how your condition affects you and what treatment and aid you are receiving. 

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.

Is depression classed as a disability?

Depression is classed as a disability.

In the Social Security Administration (SSA) Impairment Listing Manual, or “Blue Book,” the condition is considered under Section 12.04 Affective Disorders.

How many points do you need for the ESA support group?

ou need to score 15 points or more to qualify for the ESA support group.

At the ESA assessment, you’re given 0, 6, 9 or 15 points for each activity.

How long can you claim ESA for?

You can claim contributory/new style ESA for up to 12 months if you are put in the Work-Related Activity Group.

If you are put in the Support Group there is no limit on how long you can receive it for.

What benefits can I claim for depression?

You can claim the following benefits for depression: Housing Benefit; Universal Credit; Council Tax Reduction; Personal Independence Payment; Employment and Support Allowance; Support for Mortgage Interest (if you’re entitled to income-related ESA).

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


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