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Your money and benefits during an ESA reconsideration

This advice applies to Wales

You won't get any ESA payments while you're asking for a mandatory reconsideration if you were told you couldn't get ESA because:

  • you didn't score enough points at your medical
  • you didn't go to your medical
  • you didn't return the capability for work questionnaire (ESA50 form)

If you're challenging the DWP's decision to put you in the work-related activity group, you'll continue to be paid ESA.  The work-related component will also be paid while you're challenging that decision - but only if your claim was made before 3 April 2017.

If you get support for mortgage interest (SMI), your SMI payments will stop while you ask for a mandatory reconsideration.

If you don't get any ESA payments during the reconsideration, you might be able to get other money to help with your living costs.

Claiming other benefits during a reconsideration

You might be able to claim Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) or Income Support while waiting for a decision on your mandatory reconsideration if:

  • you’re entitled to a severe disability premium (SDP) with any of your benefits or you were entitled to it in the last month, and
  • you still meet the conditions of entitlement of the SDP

Claiming these benefits during a mandatory reconsideration shouldn't affect your ESA reconsideration request. Get help from your nearest Citizens Advice if you're not sure whether to claim other benefits.

Claiming Jobseeker's Allowance

As well as being entitled to the SDP, you'll need to meet the usual eligibility rules to claim JSA, for example you'll need to be actively looking for work.

You should tell the Jobcentre that you're able and willing to look for work, otherwise you won't get any JSA.

If your condition or disability means you can only work or look for work a limited number of hours each week, you can try to agree this with the Jobcentre.

If you're a carer or single parent with a child under 5

If you are entitled to a SDP and you’re a carer, you could apply for Income Support instead of JSA. This'll normally be better for you if you have caring responsibilities and don't want to look for work or sign on at the Jobcentre every 2 weeks. The money you get for Income Support is the same as JSA.

Claiming Universal Credit

If you can't claim Jobseeker's Allowance or Income Support you might be able to claim Universal Credit instead.

If you claim Universal Credit while you're waiting for a decision about your ESA, you won't be able to back to ESA - even if your appeal is successful.

If you need help working out if you need to claim Universal Credit, you can talk to an adviser.

If you can’t claim Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income Support you might be able to claim Universal Credit. You should seek advice before claiming Universal Credit as you won't be able to go back onto income-related ESA, even if your mandatory reconsideration or appeal is successful.

If you’ll be able to claim ESA when you lodge your appeal, you should consider waiting until your mandatory reconsideration is complete and claiming ESA rather than Universal Credit. An adviser can calculate which benefit would leave you better off - contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help.

If the DWP decide to give you ESA

Your ESA payments will start from the date the DWP decide you can get ESA.
The DWP should arrange for your ESA payments to start and your JSA or Income Support claim to end, but it's worth contacting the DWP to make sure both these things have happened.

If your JSA or Income Support payments during the reconsideration were less than what you would have got on ESA, you should be paid the extra amount once your ESA payments re-start.

If the DWP doesn't change its decision

If the DWP doesn't change its decision, you can appeal the decision to an independent tribunal.

You can be paid ESA until the appeal is heard if you’re appealing a decision that found you failed the work capability assessment.

You’ll only be paid ESA if this is either:

  • the first time you failed the work capability assessment

  • the first time you’ve failed the work capability assessment since a previous decision that you met it

Payments can be backdated to cover the period of your mandatory reconsideration if you submit a ‘fit note’ to cover you for this period - you can find out more about fit notes on GOV.UK.

You can be paid ESA until the appeal is heard - this isn’t the same as making a new claim. You will need to ask the DWP to pay you while you’re waiting for your appeal - you can ask for this in your appeal letter.  

You will only get paid ESA if:

  • the Tribunal has told you it’s got your appeal
  • this is the first time the DWP has decided that you’re fit for work, or the first time since the DWP decided that you have limited capability for work
  • you give the Jobcentre fit notes from your doctor

If you claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income Support while waiting for your mandatory reconsideration, you’ll need to withdraw this claim if you would prefer to claim ESA while you wait for your appeal.

If your GP stops giving you fit notes, tell them that you’re appealing. You can show them page 9 of The benefits system: a short guide for GPs on GOV.UK, which says they can still give you fit notes. If that doesn’t help, contact your nearest Citizens Advice.

Your ESA won't be paid during your appeal if you claimed another benefit during the reconsideration. Instead you'll stay on the other benefit unless you withdraw your claim for it. Then you can  contact the DWP and ask them to pay you ESA instead. You won't need to start a new claim for ESA. You can stay on the other benefit if you want to.

If you're appealing the decision that you're fit to work because you didn't return the capability for work questionnaire or attend the medical assessment, you won't get any ESA during the appeal. You should see if you can get Universal Credit instead.

Claiming Universal Credit

If you can’t claim ESA, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income Support, you’ll have to claim Universal Credit.. You should get help from your nearest Citizens Advice before claiming Universal Credit. You could get less money and you won’t be able to go back onto income-related ESA from the date you claim Universal Credit. Check whether you’re eligible to claim ESA or Universal Credit.

Extra help you can get

You can:

How Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction will be affected

These benefits are paid by your local council, to help with paying your rent and council tax.

You can continue to get these benefits even if your ESA stops. However, if your ESA stops, the DWP will usually tell the council and the council may stop your Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction. This is because they might think you’ve got other income now, for example that you might have started a job.

You should get in touch with the council straight away and explain why your ESA has stopped and that you’re going to appeal the decision. The council should then continue to pay you Housing Benefit.

Tell the council about the money you’re living on now. For example, you get help from friends or family or you go to a foodbank. They might need you to send them proof of this, for example your bank statements and a letter explaining your circumstances.

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