ESA information for healthcare professionals

This page provides information about Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) specifically for healthcare professionals.

Focus on abilities

Employment and Support Allowance has been designed to enable your patients to achieve their full potential through work and to help them to gain independence from benefits. It does so by focusing on the patient’s abilities – on what they can do rather than what they cannot – and offers personalised support in their move towards work. This help includes a comprehensive condition management programme, available as part of the Pathways to Work programme.

The General Practitioner Information Pack is available to download:

Work Capability Assessment

For Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) replaced the Personal Capability Assessment. A doctor appointed by the Department carries out the Work Capability Assessment.  

The WCA has two parts:

  • Assessment of limited capability for work
    this part resembles the previous PCA, but applys reviewed and revised descriptors and scores for both physical and mental functional capabilities.
  • Assessment of limited capability for work-related activity
    this part identifies, through a series of descriptors, those patients with the most severe illnesses or disabilities. These patients be members of the Support Group of Employment and Support Allowance and will not have to engage in work-focused interviews as a condition of receiving benefit – although they can volunteer to do so if they choose.

What does this mean for General Practitioners?

The introduction of Employment and Support Allowance does not make significant changes to the dealings General Practitioners (GPs) have with their patients, or the amount of paperwork GPs need to complete. The Department already asks GPs to fill in forms to provide us with information about their patients, and some of the forms have changed.

GPs still provide 'statements of incapacity for work' (usually on form Med 3) until the WCA assessment is carried out, usually within the first 13 weeks of a claim for Employment and Support Allowance.

The Department may ask GPs to complete a factual ESA113 report on their patient. GPs can complete this form from their records. There is no need to carry out a separate examination of the patient.

A GP will only be asked to complete an ESA113 if:

  • it could result in the patient’s entitlement to additional financial support being confirmed on paper evidence, without need for a face to face assessment, or
  • if, in the case of reassessing the patient’s continuing entitlement to Employment and Support Allowance, it could result in ongoing entitlement being confirmed without need for another face to face assessment.

The patient will not be denied benefits solely based on the information on this form. An expert decision maker makes the decision to award Employment and Support Allowance based on a range of information and evidence, including independent medical advice. 

Special rules

The Department may ask General Practitioners (GPs) to provide a DS1500 report for patients who tell us they are terminally ill (a life expectancy of no more than six months).

This is a factual report, in which the GP provides details of the patient’s condition and their current and planned future treatment. We do not ask the GP to give an opinion on prognosis or life expectancy. We need the GP’s help with this information so we can ensure that the patient receives everything they are entitled to as quickly as possible.

Special rules apply to people who are terminally ill. We fast-track customers with a terminal illness into the Support Group of Employment and Support Allowance so that we can ensure they receive everything that they are entitled to as quickly as possible. They do not have to participate in a work-focused health-related assessment or any other work-related activity but they can volunteer to do so if they wish.

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