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Getting your ESA decision after the assessment

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

After your assessment, an ESA decision maker will look at the recommendation made by the assessor and use it to decide if you can get ESA.

It can take several weeks or more for the Department for Communities (DfC) to make a decision. If you haven’t heard anything after 8 weeks, you could contact them to ask why you haven’t had a decision letter yet.

If you’re going to get ESA, you’ll be put into one of these 2 groups:

  • the work-related activity group (WRAG) - this means that to keep getting ESA, you’ll have to do work-related activity like go to meetings with work advisers or group sessions to help improve your chances of getting work in future
  • the support group - this means you won’t have to do any work-related activity to keep getting your ESA

You’ll get this information when the DfC writes to you with the result of your claim. This is called a decision letter.

You can find out more about the two groups and what to do if you think you’ve been put into the wrong group.

ESA rates after getting your decision

Once you’ve been assessed, your ESA payment should increase from the assessment rate to the full rate. There are different rates of ESA, depending on:

  • which group you’re put into
  • whether you get income-related ESA and qualify for an additional premium
ESA groups and amounts paidContribution-based ESA Income-related ESA
Support group £109.65 up to £109.65
Work-related activity group £73.10 up to £73.10

Read more about ESA rates and premiums.

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. When you’re almost at the end of the year, you’ll be sent an ESA3 form to fill in to see if you can be moved onto income-related ESA instead. If your disability or illness gets worse and you would qualify for the support group, you can reclaim contributory ESA.

If you’re in the support group or getting income-related ESA, your claim will be ongoing. Your ability to work will be re-assessed every 1, 2 or 3 years to make sure you’re still not fit to work.

Find out more about the ESA groups.

If you disagree with the decision

If you disagree with the decision in your letter, you can ask for it to be looked at again or you can appeal it. If you miss the deadline, you can make a late request, but you have to show that you had a good reason for being late.

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