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Medical evidence

This advice applies to England

You can send medical evidence of your illness or disability along with your capability for work questionnaire (ESA50 form). Medical evidence can give the DWP a better idea of how your condition affects your ability to work. It’s easy to miss this on the form itself.

If you’re including medical evidence, staple it to the form. Make sure you include your name and National Insurance number on every separate sheet of paper.

Medical evidence is on page 5 of the form - see what it looks like

ESA50 page 4

If your condition is diagnosed, you’ll probably have evidence already. You can also get more if you need to, for example a letter from your consultant explaining how your condition affects you (what you can or can’t do because of it).

If your condition is undiagnosed, you’ll need to find a way to show how it affects your ability to work.

You may have to pay for medical evidence. Some evidence won’t be relevant so might not help your claim. Get help from your local Citizens Advice - they’ll help you decide what evidence to include with your form.

If your condition is diagnosed

You should send evidence if it supports what you’re saying on the form. You may already have it to hand - for example:

  • a print-out of the medication you’re on
  • x-ray results
  • scans
  • a hospital discharge sheet
  • an occupational therapist’s care plan

If you have problems with your mental health (such as depression), you should think about any documents or letters you have from people like:

  • your community psychiatric nurse (CPN)
  • your occupational therapist - for example a care plan
  • counsellors
  • a cognitive therapist
  • social workers

It might be worth getting new medical evidence, for example if:

  • you have a new illness or disability
  • your illness or disability has got worse recently and you don’t have anything to prove that
  • you've had surgery or treatment and you have side effects
  • your medication was changed recently
  • you’ve recently been referred to a specialist or consultant

If your condition is undiagnosed

The form says “don’t ask or pay for new information”, but it might be a good idea to get medical evidence if your illness or disability is undiagnosed.

For example, you might have unexplained symptoms like stomach problems, tiredness or dizziness - and a letter from your doctor might help to explain the situation and how it affects your ability to work.

Getting new medical evidence

Some doctors might charge you for a letter or new report. If you can't afford to pay it's worth asking for copies of recent medical notes or letters from any specialists they've referred you to - they usually have to give you copies for free. You could also provide a letter from your partner or carer.

It’s a good idea to contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help and support. Someone from your local Citizens Advice should be able to:

  • tell you whether it’s worth getting medical evidence, for example a doctor’s letter
  • help you actually get hold of the evidence - and make sure it’s the right evidence for your claim
  • look at the medical evidence and decide whether to send it to the DWP - some medical evidence will not be relevant and so might not help your claim

The DWP look for very specific things in medical evidence, and Citizens Advice has lots of experience in this area.

Sending medical evidence after you've sent your capability for work questionnaire

It’s never too late to send medical evidence - you must send the questionnaire itself back within 28 days, but you can send evidence any time afterwards. Remember to send it to the Health Assessment Advisory Service, not to Jobcentre Plus. You can get the address of your local Health Assessment Advisory Service by calling 0800 288 8777 for free or you can find the address on their website.

Write a covering letter

It’s important to write a covering letter if you send medical evidence after you’ve sent back your questionnaire.

You should include:

  • your name
  • your National Insurance number
  • a note to say that the evidence supports your ESA claim - include the date you sent your questionnaire

Next steps

Your conditions

Back to Help filling in your ESA form

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