ESA support group mental health

In this brief blog, we will discuss ESA support group mental health and the purposes of these ESA groups.

What is the target group for Employment and Support Allowance?

Employment and Support Allowance is aimed at people whose capacity for work is limited by a physical or mental condition and the limitation is such that it is unreasonable to require them to work.

When you apply for ESA you will be placed into one of two ESA support groups for mental health. 

  • The work-related activity group or
  • The ESA support group for mental health

Once your application for ESA support has been considered by the department of works and pensions you will usually get a letter from the DWP stating which  ESA support group for mental health you will be placed in. The decision on which ESA support group for mental health you will be placed in will be based mostly around what you have filled in the capability for work questionnaire (ESA50 form) and the results of your medical assessment.

If you think you’ve been put into the wrong ESA support group then you can ask the Department of works and pensions to reconsider their decision. This is called ‘mandatory reconsideration’.

ESA support group mental health

The work-related activity group

The first ESA support group for mental health is a work-related activity group where you will have regular meetings an interviews with an adviser. If you have been put in an ESA work-related activity group this means that the department of works and pensions believes that your mental condition limits your ability to work at the present time but there may be things you can do to improve this in the future. 

You will not be required to look for work but the DWP may invite you for work focussed interviews where you will undertake work-related activities which they hope will improve your ability to get back to work sooner rather than later.

There are some cases and scenarios where you will not have to attend any work-related interviews and partake in any work-related activities. These are for example:

you’re a single parent with a child under one-year-old

you’ve reached Pension Credit age

In some cases you may be expected to attend the work-related interviews but not participate in the work-related activities if you are;

a carer getting Carer’s Allowance or a carer premium as part of your employment and support allowance claim

a single parent with a child under 3 – if you’re a single parent with a child between 3 and 13, you will have to do work-related activities, but only during normal school hours

you’ve reached Pension Credit age

If you are moved over to the work-related ESA support group for mental health ( or you are already in this group) and you fail to attend the interviews then you could be sanctioned. There are numerous safeguards in place to ensure any sanctions are fair and reflect the situations on the ground. For example, you will usually be visited before any sanctions are placed on you. This ensures the system is fair and takes into account the struggles of those living with mental health conditions.

Your ESA can be reduced temporarily if you miss a work-focused interview or an agreed work-related activity without getting prior permission or notifying the adviser with a suitable reason.

The work-related activity you’ll be asked to do depends on what’s available in your area. It could be something like:

What are the work focussed interviews like?

The Work-focused interviews will be carried out by a personal adviser at the jobcentre. The jobcentre adviser will look to understand your particular scenario including what you are good at and what you may need to improve in in order to increase your chances of getting a job,

The adviser at the jobcentre will usually talk to you about:

your work history and qualifications

the steps you could take that might help you to eventually be able to work

any practical support that will be available to you

Whilst you are claiming ESA these work focussed interviews might happen frequently as the DWP tries to get you back to work sooner.

What sort of activities will you do in the work-related ESA group?

Some of the activities you will be expected to do whilst you are at the work-related ESA group will include the below:

  • basic skills for maths or writing
  • confidence-building sessions
  • learning how to produce a CV
  • new ways to manage your condition or disability

All of these work-related activities are activities which the DWP thinks will give you a greater chance of getting back to work sooner.

ESA support group mental health

The ESA support group for mental health

The second ESA support group for mental health will have no interviews or activities. This ESA support group for mental health is for people with the most severe mental health conditions who can not work. It will be unreasonable to require people in this ESA support group for mental health to work whilst they claim ESA. People in this ESA support group for mental health will have periodic medical assessment reviews which are usually every three years at a maximum. This is done to see if their condition has bettered and they can now resume work. In most cases, people will lose these reviews and have to win an ESA appeal for anxiety or an ESA appeal for depression or whatever mental health illness they have in order to go back on to receiving ESA. 

In some cases, medical conditions of people claiming ESA can improve with certain treatment and they may genuinely be able to o back to work whilst in other cases their medical conditions may have declined.  Depending on the outcome of your medical assessment you could then be removed from the ESA support group for mental health which required you to not attend any interviews or meetings and be placed in the work-related  ESA support group for mental health or vice versa.

If you have been put in the ESA support group for mental health and you want to participate in a work-relataed activity which the work-related activity group will be undertaking then you can ask the Department of works and pensions to make this possible for you by letting them know of your intentions. You can do this by using the contact details on your DWP decision letter and writing back to them informing them that you want to join work-related activities in your region even though you are in a ESA support group for mental health. The DWP will usually let you know if there is any suitable work-related activities within the region you are in which you can join.

Because the employment and support allowance focuses on the people who need the most resources hence the most severely disabled people, most of the people who claim employment and support allowance can be nearly £17 week better off than if they would have claimed incapacity benefits.

Will how much you get depend on your ESA group?

Yes, it may, the mental health and money advice website states “There’s a chance that you may receive an extra amount in your ESA, depending on which of the two ESA groups you are in and the date you claimed:

Work-Related Activity Group if you claimed before 3rd April 2017, you will get an extra amount of £29.05 per week, but if you claimed after 3rd April 2017, you will only get the basic rate and no extra amount.

Support group – you will get an extra amount of £38.55 a week.   “

Enhanced Disability Premium

The mental health and money advice website also state “ If you are in the support group or if you receive any of the following, you will receive the enhanced disability premium, which equates to an extra £16.80 per week:

Disability Living Allowance (high rate care component),

Personal Independence Payment (enhanced daily living component), or

Armed Forces Independence Payment.”

If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, loneliness or any similar mental health issue then seeking help for it may be a good option. Mental health issues such as depression, loneliness and anxiety can affect anyone of us.

If you are under 18 then CAMHS, an NHS run programme may just be the answer for your mental health struggles.

You should look to see if you meet the CAMHS referral criteria and then fill in the CAMHS referral form.

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