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Q11 - learning how to do tasks

This advice applies to Wales

This question is on page 14 of the form - see what it looks like

ESA50 page 14

How to answer the question

This question is about how your ability to do tasks is affected by your mental health condition or cognitive impairment, for example if you have:

  • learning difficulties
  • brain injuries
  • depression
  • cognitive impairments after a stroke
  • difficulty understanding language, for example receptive dysphasia

Think about whether you tend to have problems focusing or concentrating, or if you get anxious when you have to learn how to do something new.

"Can you learn how to do an everyday task such as setting an alarm clock?"

  • No
  • Yes
  • It varies

Don't feel embarrassed if you have to tick "no", for example if:

  • you wouldn't be able to work an alarm clock on your own, even if someone showed you how the day before
  • you wouldn't be able to cope if you had to get up at a different time one day (and needed to change the time of your alarm)
  • you'd be confused by the switches

This isn't just about setting an alarm clock - it's about doing any basic task. Think about, for example:

  • learning how to turn on a television and then change the channel using your remote control
  • turning on the heating or hot water

"Can you learn how to do a more complicated task such as using a washing machine?"

  • No
  • Yes
  • It varies

This isn't just about using a washing machine - it's about any complex task. Think about, for example:

  • learning how to use a new computer for things like sending and receiving emails
  • making a cup of tea for someone - so filling a kettle, putting tea bags in a teapot, pouring it into a cup and then adding milk and sugar

Again, don't feel embarrassed if you have to tick "no" - for example if:

  • you'd need to ask for help every time
  • you can learn it the first time around, but will have forgotten the next time you try
  • you don't follow instructions or directions well, and need to break them down into very small steps
  • it'd take you a long time to learn how to do it - try to compare how long it'd take you to someone who doesn't have your condition

What to write in the box

It's important you tell the DWP more by explaining your situation in the box - you should give more details on whether you can learn how to do both simple and more complex tasks.

You should explain in the box:

  • if there's anything that you couldn't learn to do (or struggled with) because you find it too difficult - for example using a dishwasher
  • if you need to practice and repeat tasks regularly to learn them - and how long it'd take you
  • whether medication you're taking has affected your ability to learn new tasks - try to compare what it was like before you started taking the medication
  • whether you can focus on tasks
  • if you have problems with your short-term memory
  • if you have good and bad days - and what it's like for you on different days
  • whether you'd be able to learn more than one new task in a day


Domenico says: "My sister likes me to have my phone with me all the time but I can't remember how to get to the phone numbers. She showed me lots of times but I can't remember. I tried to call her once and I couldn't work out how to - I really panicked and got in a bit of a state. I couldn't look at that phone after that.

My sister got me a different phone and put her number in it so I only have to press one button to speak to her."

How the DWP assess this question

The DWP look at a list of statements called 'descriptors'. They'll give you a number of points depending on which descriptor applies to you.

The DWP add together all the points you get from the whole form. This means you can qualify for ESA even if you don't get all the points for this question.

Descriptors for question 11

11 (a) Cannot learn how to complete a simple task, such as setting an alarm clock. 15
(b) Cannot learn anything beyond a simple task, such as setting an alarm clock. 9
(c) Cannot learn anything beyond a moderately complex task, such as the steps involved in operating a washing machine to clean clothes. 6
(e) None of the above applies. 0

Next steps

Question 12: Awareness of hazards or danger

Back to Help filling in your ESA form

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