Won ESA tribunal. What happens next? 

In this blog post, we talk about what happens next after a win at the ESA tribunal.

There are two possible outcomes, and we approach each one of them. 

I won ESA tribunal, what happens next?

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Congratulations on winning your ESA appeal!  

If you won the ESA tribunal, what happens next is that both you and the DWP should receive an official letter confirming the decision of the tribunal. 

You should ring the DWP to make sure they have received a copy of the decision. 

You will be backdated all that is owing to you from the moment you claimed your ESA benefit. 

The DWP usually takes 5-8 weeks to put a tribunal award into payment. Unfortunately, there is little you can do to speed the process. 

Won ESA tribunal, what happens next – Option 1

In this part, we discuss what happens when you win your appeal and start getting ESA payments. 

People who get ESA are 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 – this means you won’t have to do any work-related activity to keep getting your ESA.

You’ll get:

  • up to £73.10 a week if you’re in the work-related activity group
  • up to £111.65 a week if you’re in the support group

You’ll get paid ESA every 2 weeks. All benefits are paid into your bank, building society or credit union account.

The support group

If you’ve been put in the support group, it means the DWP has decided that you can’t work and that it doesn’t expect you to do anything to improve your chances of finding work.

However, if you’re in this group and decide that you want to take part in work-related activity anyway, you can do it.

Use the contact details on your decision letter to let the DWP know you want to do this.

They’ll let you know if there’s any suitable work-related activity going on in your area that you can join.

If you’ve been put into the work-related activity group it means the DWP has decided that your disability or health condition does limit your ability to work right now, but that there are things you can do to improve this.

You’re not expected to look for work, but you can be asked to go to a work-focused interview and then do work-related activities.

These activities are things that the DWP thinks will improve your chances of working in the future.

You won’t need to go to a work-focused interview or do any work-related activities if:

  • you’re a single parent with a child under one year old
  • you’ve reached Pension Credit age

Work-focused interviews

If you’ve been put into the work-related activity group, you’ll be asked to go to a work-focused interview.

This will be with a personal adviser at the Jobcentre.

At the interview, your personal adviser will try to get a better understanding of your situation and your abilities and your limitations. 

They’ll look at what you can already do, what you might be able to do in future and what help you would need to be able to go to work.

To do this, they’ll want to talk to you about:

  • your work history and qualifications
  • the steps you could take that might help you to eventually be able to work
  • any practical support that will be available to you

While you’re getting ESA in the work-related activity group, you might have to go to more work-focused interviews like this.

If you’re in the work-related activity group, you’ll be expected to take part in work-related activity unless:

  • you’re a carer getting Carer’s Allowance or a carer premium as part of your ESA claim
  • you’re a single parent with a child under 3 – if you’re a single parent with a child between 3 and 13, you will have to do work-related activities, but only during normal school hours
  • you’ve reached Pension Credit age

The work-related activity you’ll be asked to do depends on what’s available in your area. It could be something like:

  • basic skills for maths or writing
  • confidence-building sessions
  • learning how to produce a CV
  • new ways to manage your condition or disability

The activities are all things that the DWP thinks will help you to eventually get into work.

How long you get ESA for

If you’re in the work-related activity group and get contribution-based ESA, you’ll only get it for up to a year.

This includes time before your medical assessment.

If your disability or illness gets worse and you would qualify for the support group, you can ask the DWP to re-assess you even after the year’s finished.

If you’re in the support group or getting income-related ESA, your claim will be ongoing.

The DWP will usually re-assess your ability to work every 1, 2 or 3 years to make sure you’re still not fit to work.

If you’re in the support group, the DWP might decide they won’t need to re-assess you in the future – they’ll tell you in the decision letter they send you. 

They’ll only do this if your condition is unlikely to improve much in the future, and this means you’ll always be in the support group.

Won ESA tribunal, what happens next – Option 2

Here we are discussing the possibility were the DWP overturns the tribunal’s decision. 

Further appeal to the Upper Tribunal

The DWP has 28 days to ask for a statement of reason from the judge. If they can find an error in law then they do have the right of appeal to the UTT.

It is rare that they appeal any decision but the possibility is there. 

What is an error of law? 

The following are considered errors of law:

  • The tribunal was wrong in their application of the law, i.e. it misinterpreted a previous decision or a statute. 
  •  There was no evidence to support the decision that the tribunal came to. 
  •  The tribunal made decisions after getting the facts wrong in the case. 
  • A breach of procedure/breach of natural justice, for example: irrationally not allowing an adjournment; not allowing you to call witnesses; no interpreter or bad interpretation; you did not get notice of the hearing; you did not receive the Department of Work and Pensions’ submission; you asked for an oral hearing but one did not take place. 
  • The tribunal did not give adequate reasons for its decision. 
  • The Tribunal accepts a government Medical Report such as one performed by ATOS Healthcare over your GP’s medical report without giving good reason for choosing one over the other. 

How long will the appeal take?

The Upper Tribunal usually deal with applications (where permission to appeal has been refused by the First-tier Tribunal) within 10 weeks of receiving your application and appeals (where permission has been granted by the First-tier Tribunal, or an Upper Tribunal judge has granted permission to appeal) within 20 weeks of receipt. 

If the Upper Tribunal judge decides there should be an oral hearing, the case may take longer due to the time needed to set a date that all the parties are able to attend and to find an available courtroom. 

How do you get a decision?

Decisions are issued to all the parties at the same time, and in writing only. Upper Tribunal decisions do not include the judge’s signature.

A copy of the decision with the judge’s name typed is issued to the parties. The signed copy is retained in the Upper Tribunal file. 

Once the decision has been issued, the UT plays no further role in the implementation of the decision.

For example, if the decision is to remit the case back to the First-tier Tribunal for a rehearing it will be their responsibility to arrange this and you should make sure you cooperate with them. 

You will be sent details about what to do if you wish to challenge the decision of the Upper Tribunal judge along with the decision.


In this blog post, we talked about what happens next after a win at the ESA tribunal. There are two possible outcomes, and we discussed each one of them. 

If you won ESA tribunal, you deserve all the congratulations.

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Please feel free to share your experience with claiming this award, any insights, thoughts and further questions you may have, in the comments section below. 

FAQ about Won ESA tribunal, what happens next?

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

In order to be in the support group for ESA, you have to score 15 points or more.

In this case, you are thought to have limited capability for work and are entitled to ESA

What qualifies you for the ESA support group?

To qualify for ESA Support Group people have to be severely ill or disabled, as it is unreasonable to require them to engage in work-related activity as a condition for receiving ESA.

Support Group customers will have periodical medical assessment reviews (every three years at a maximum).

What is a judge’s decision called?

A judge’s decision is called a judgment.

Judgments generally provides the court’s explanation of why it has chosen to make a particular court order.

How long after winning ESA appeal do I get payment?

After winning ESA appeal you will get your payments in about 5 to 8 weeks.

It takes that long for the DWP to process a Tribunal result and to start your payment. 

How long does a tribunal take for ESA?

Usually, a tribunal for ESA will take four to 11 weeks.

Are ESA tribunals successful?

Yes, ESA Tribunals are successful. In fact, the Tribunals Service statistics show that claimants are winning PIP and ESA appeals at the highest rate ever recorded.

Overall, an extraordinary 73% of social security appeals are successful, with the claimant getting a better award than they originally received from the DWP.


  1. Guide to Government Benefits: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment Insurance, Disability 
  2. Nolo’s Guide to Social Security Disability: Getting & Keeping Your Benefits
  3. How to Process a Legal Appeal Successfully
  4. Insider’s Guide to Government Benefits
  5. Positive Behavior Supports for Adults with Disabilities in Employment, Community, and Residential Settings
  6. Employment and Support Allowance: A Guide to ESA for People with a Disability or Long Term Health Condition, Their Families, Carers and Advisors 





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