ESA Help

Hi, this has probably been asked a million times but I’m after a little bit of advice. I was diagnosed (very suddenly and as a massive shock) with MS in 2013. I was quickly put onto first line DMDS which didn’t help then was swiftly moved onto Tysabri due to rapidly detonating. I’m 34 with a body of a 90 year old and am unable to work. I receive high rate PIP and have done for some time. I often chat with other MS sufferers during my infusion and they often talk about ESA. Now this is something I know zero about, they keep telling me to claim because I’m entitled but I just cannot face it. Filling forms and attending interviews give me the dread. I struggle massively with my memory and cognitive ability aswell as the physical problems. I’ve read a little bit and it sounds scarily demanding and I’m not sure it’s worth the detriment to my health despite the extra money being helpful. Could anyone explain the process to me and if it is as bad as I’m reading it. Many thanks

hi Amy

i never applied for it because my best friend was an expert on benefits so she applied for it for me and of course i was puzzled to receive a letter saying that my application had been refused!

but it say the reason was that i was in receipt of my occupational pension.

try welfare rights/CAB or other helping agency.

if you tell them that you struggle with filling in forms, they will be able to help.

www.benefitsandwork is a helpful website although it cost £20 to join.

sooner or later you’ll need to apply for PIP which is a really tough one.

therefore consider ESA a practise run for PIP.

honestly stop worrying and apply.

Hi, thanks for your reply. I have applied and successfully received PiP a number of years ago now but back then although physically I was unwell, mentally I wasn’t too bad. I even survived the ATOS assessment although not sure I could again lol. I’m just worried about the face to face interview more than anything I think, the forms I can get help with.

Hi Amy You should really get some face to face advice from a welfare rights specialist. Try your local CAB. They need to look at your situation, what your current income is, whether you live with a partner or alone. They’d also need to know your employment history, whether you might have paid sufficient National Insurance to qualify for contribution based ESA. It’s not quite as simple (!) as PIP where all that matters is your physical or cognitive needs. It’s divided into two for a start, the income based type depends on your income and your personal circumstances. The contributions type depends on when you worked and whether you’ve paid enough NI. Then, you have the physical (disability) considerations as well. So ESA is more complex than just your health and physical needs which is why you need to speak to someone impartial who knows the rules. This person should ascertain whether firstly you’d need to (and satisfy the grounds to) claim for income based or contribution based ESA, then look at whether you’d qualify on physical grounds. (There is a further consideration, between ‘working’ group and ‘support’ group too, but I’ll leave that for whoever advises you to discuss!) Best of luck Sue

I don’t believe you can make a new claim for income based ESA , only contribution based.

Income based was replaced by Universal credit as far as I’m aware.

It’s a bit of a minefield, you really should get face to face advice from welfare rights. I went to the CAB and they were really helpfull.


Good point. Obviously my knowledge is way out of date (predates UC!)

That’s why you need advice from an expert Welfare Rights Advisor.