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Assessment phase of employment and support allowance (ESA)

What is the assessment phase of employment and support allowance (ESA)?

When you first make a claim for ESA you are placed in the assessment phase whilst a decision is made about whether you are eligible for either the work-related activity group or the support group in the main phase of ESA.  You may also remain in the assessment phase if you are appealing against a decision that you are not entitled to main phase ESA.

How long does the assessment phase of employment and support allowance (ESA) last?

The assessment phase is supposed to last for 13 weeks, though due to backlogs in medicals and decision making it often lasts a great deal longer. You get paid the same amount you would receive if you were on jobseeker’s allowance, including a lower rate if you are under 25.

What happens in the assessment phase of employment and support allowance (ESA)?

Whilst you are in the assessment phase you will be subject to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), the medical tests which decide whether you are entitled to employment and support allowance and, if so, whether you will be in the work-related activity group or the support group.

You may also have to attend one or more work-focused interviews at a Jobcentre Plus office or with a work programme provider.

In the past you would also have had to attend a work-focused health-related assessment, but these were suspended for two years from 19 July 2010.