What questions are asked at the ESA tribunal?

Is there a way to know what questions are asked at the ESA tribunal?

Read this article to find some sample questions asked at an appeal and a guide on how you should answer them.

ESA tribunal questions

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There is no standard list of ESA tribunal questions that can be asked at an appeal, but we do know that they will primarily be about the appellant’s problems with the ESA activities.

It’s important to ask these questions as sincerely as possible, as the hearing panel will be influenced by the answers when making the final decision.

What happens at an ESA tribunal hearing?

At a tribunal hearing the tribunal panel will hear the claimant’s case and all the evidence there is to support it.

The hearing panel has three members: the Judge, a Doctor and a Disability Adviser (someone who knows a lot about disability).

Some cases are different, so they can be heard only by a Judge.

In other cases, a member from the DWP can be present too, and they can argue how the decision was made. 

An ESA tribunal is not the same as the usual trial, neither the claimant or the DWP are considered to be guilty of something.

The purpose of the appeal is to verify if the DWP has made the right decision and whether there is a mistake in the middle.

The appeal is a great opportunity for the claimant to be heard and understood. 

At the ESA tribunal many claimants argue that their condition has worsened and this is why the decision-maker was wrong They forget, however, that at the appeal the panel judges how the claimants condition was at the moment of the claim.

The panel’s questions should be about that period, too. If the claimant’s condition has worsened, he or she should make a new claim. 

Like we said, this is not a common trial with a jury and lawyers.

It is perhaps a more friendly environment.

The panel will ask the claimant questions in order to better understand the facts and how the disability affects the claimant’s day-to-day life. 

Considering the fact that someone’s disability is a sensitive subject, the panel will make sure to ask the questions in a more tactful way.

The appellant should not feel embarrassed and answer the questions as clearly and honest as possible. 

If there is inconclusive evidence, the Judge may ask for further clarification. 

How is a decision made?

After hearing the case and going through all the evidence, a decision is made.

Neither the appellant or the DWP member cannot be present at this moment, as it should be done in private, by the members of the panel only. 

Sometimes decisions are made in a few minutes, sometimes the case requires more thought.

The claimant would receive the panel’s decision either that day or through an official letter within a month.

The decision is always followed by a written decision notice. 

If someone disagrees with the First-tiers tribunal’s decision, they can ask for a statement of reasons and find whether there was a mistake in law.

If this is the case, the option to appeal to the Upper Tribunal can be the appellant’s next step. 

Examples of what questions are asked at ESA tribunal

There are no standard questions that a Judge can ask you since each case is different.

The questions will be based on the symptoms of your condition and the evidence that you sent the tribunal beforehand.

We’ll give you an example of a set of questions asked at ESA tribunal for someone with, let’s say arthritis and IBS. This way you can get an idea of how the questions are asked.

  • How did you get here today? Did you have to stop on the way? What was the reason for stopping?
  • What are the main things that you want us to look at?
  • How far can you walk without stopping? Can you climb steps without any help?
  • How long can you sit without getting up?
  • Can you extend your arm about your head?
  • Can you please pick up this bottle of water?
  • Can you pick a pound coin up with either hand?
  • Can you use a pen?
  • Do you have a loss of control over your bowels and if so how many times?
  • Do you have to have a change of clothes when you go anywhere? Do you have a change of clothes with you now?
  • Do you undergo any hospital treatments?
  • Is there anything you want to say to us?

Always be polite, listen to each question and answer it as truthfully as you can.

If you don’t know the answer, say so. If you don’t understand the question, say so.

It’s sometimes a good idea to think about what things are like from the tribunal’s point of view.

Remember that they are doing these things all the time, day in, day out. Appeal hearings are routine for them.

They arrive in the morning and know that they have a day’s worth of appeals to work through.

Depending on the type of appeal and the expected complexity they may have as little as 20 minutes to determine some cases.

It is very unlikely that, from their point of view, there is anything unusual or special about your case.

It’s also very important to remember the limits of the tribunal’s powers.

Its job is very simple: it has to decide whether the decision that you are appealing again was right, or wrong, and, if it was wrong, what the decision should be, taking into account all the relevant laws. 

DOs and DON’Ts for your ESA tribunal hearing


  • Prepare your case as well as you can.
  • Try to get any written documents to them at least a week before the hearing.
  • Get to the hearing on time
  • Listen to each question and truthfully answer the question that they have asked you
  • Be polite
  • Be straight and honest with them.


  • Arrive late at the hearing.
  • Give them piles of extra documents on the day of the hearing.
  • Take your anger out on them (they didn’t make the decision you’re appealing about).
  • Give long speeches about how bad your life is, or how badly the government has treated you.
  • Try to impress the panel.

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Today we talked about what questions are asked at the ESA tribunal and how should you answer them.

Unfortunately, there are no default set of questions that are asked at an appeal, since each case is so different. 

In general lines, you should expect the Judge to ask you questions about the evidence that you’ve sent them before the appeal.

You’ll probably be asked to describe your condition and how it doesn’t allow you to work. 

Remember to be polite, ask the judge to repeat the question of you didn’t hear or understand it, be open and honest about your struggles. 

What are your concerns regarding the questions that will be asked at the ESA tribunal?

Let us know in the comments below what worries you or if you have any questions for us leave them there as well. 

FAQ about what questions are asked at the ESA tribunal

How long does a tribunal take for ESA?

Usually, a tribunal hearing for ESA can take 20 to 40 minutes.

You will be given the decision the same day, although in some cases the decision is posted as a formal letter a few weeks later. 

How many ESA appeals are successful?

The latest DWP figures show that the success rate for ESA appeals is 74%, with the claimant getting a better reward than they originally received from the DWP. 

What happens when you win ESA appeal?

If you will an ESA appeal you will be placed in either the Support group or the Work-related group.

You will receive back pay, but it can take up to 8 weeks before the payments start.

What to do when ESA stops?

If your ESA has been stopped because you failed a medical assessment you will either need to sign on for Job Seekers Allowance or make an appeal. 

Can they just stop ESA?

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) can be stopped or reduced (cut) if you don’t do the things you agreed to do in your claimant commitment or if you miss appointments or meetings.

This is called a benefit sanction.


  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. Investigation into errors in Employment and Support Allowance
  3. Providing Employment Support for People With Long-Term Mental Illness: Choices, Resources, and Practical Strategies
  4. Limited Capability – The Support Group (Social Insecurity Book 5)
  5. The Unemployment Guide: How a Setback Can Launch Your Career


  1. Your money and benefits during an ESA reconsideration – Citizens Advice
  2. ESA appeal – Benefits and Work forum

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