Employment & Support Allowance: What happens after you get a decision?

The Decision

You will receive a letter explaining whether you have been placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) or the Support Group.  It should also explain whether you are receiving income related (means tested) ESA or contribution based ESA.

If you have been placed in the WRAG but feel you ought to be in the Support Group, you must ask the Jobcentre to look at the decision again.  This is called a mandatory revision. In due course you will receive another letter which will advise whether the original decision has been changed. You can then lodge an appeal if you are still unhappy with the decision.

For further information please see our Appeals and Reconsiderations information guide

As it is possible for you to be found fit for work as a result of this process, it is always advisable to get face to face specialist advice.

Information updated August 2018. Please note that information may be subject to change. All information is provided in good faith but Disability Information Scotland does not endorse any product or service referred to within this resource.

Support Group

If you are placed in this group you will receive a higher rate of ESA than if you are placed in the ‘work-related activity group’. In addition, you are not expected to take part in work related activities, nor will you have to attend work focused interviews although you can volunteer to do so if you wish.  You will not have your benefit limited to 365 days nor will you be subject to the benefit cap.

Permitted work

While claiming ESA you may be able to do some paid work and still get your full ESA (and housing/council tax benefit).

Permitted work lower limit – You can do any work earning no more than £20 a week for an unlimited period.
Permitted work higher limit – this is work of less than 16 hours a week, with earnings which do not exceed £125.50 per week.

You can do such work for up to a maximum of 52 weeks if you are in the WRAG (Work related activity group).  Subsequent periods of work are allowed but there must be a gap of at least 52 weeks between periods of working. The work can be for an unlimited period if you are in the support group.

You must tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if you want to start doing permitted work. They’ll send you form PW1 to fill in and send back to them. Any volunteer work you do needs to be reported. It normally doesn’t affect your ESA.

Change of circumstances

If something changes that could affect whether you get Employment and Support Allowance you must tell the DWP what’s happened. Changes of circumstances include things such as if your condition improves or gets worse.  Failure to do this may lead to an over payment which will need to be repaid.

Linking claims

If you come off benefits, but then become ill again within twelve weeks of the previous claim, you may be able to get ESA as before, but you must obtain a sick note from the first day of your illness.


As long as you are claiming ESA, you will be have repeated work capability assessments (WCAs) so you will continue to receive ESA50 questionnaires and may be asked to attend medicals. This is to ensure that you are placed in the most appropriate group. The frequency of these assessments will depend on your individual circumstances.

Further information

When making a claim for benefits it is always advisable to speak with an expert that understands the entire benefits system. An expert can help you to:

  • complete benefit forms
  • work out what you’re entitled
  • appeal a decision you disagree with

If you need assistance with your ESA application, need further benefit advice or if you are unhappy with the outcome of the DWP’s decision it may be helpful to contact an organisation such as a local Citizens Advice Bureau or a local disability advice / welfare rights service. It is worth noting that these organisations can be very busy and if you need assistance you should contact them as soon as possible.

Disability Information Scotland:

For help searching for details of your local disability information service or welfare rights project use our
Scottish Disability Directory 


Check out the Turn2us free, online Benefits Calculater to find out what means-tested benefits you may be entitled to.

Citizens Advice Scotland:

To find a local bureau call 0808 800 9060 or search the Citizens Advice Scotland website.

Government Information and Service website:

Find out what benefits you could get, how to claim and what happens if your circumstances change by using the Benefits Adviser online.

Information last updated on 4 June 2020. Please note that information may be subject to change. All information is provided in good faith but Disability Information Scotland does not endorse any product or service referred to within this resource.

If you would like this information guide in another version then please contact us and we will post or email you a copy.

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