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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Employment and Support Allowance - how to claim

You can claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) by telephone, textphone or by downloading a claim form. The easiest and quickest way is by telephone or textphone. Find out how to claim Employment and Support Allowance and how to report any changes to your circumstances.

How to claim Employment and Support Allowance

You can claim Employment and Support Allowance by telephone, textphone or by downloading a claim form.

Claiming by telephone or textphone

If you claim Employment and Support Allowance by telephone or textphone an adviser at the contact centre will:

  • go though the application with you
  • fill in the form

You will not have to fill in any forms yourself.

Lines are open Monday to Friday, from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm.

Contact centre numbers

Telephone: 0800 055 6688

Textphone: 0800 023 4888

You can also make your claim in Welsh.

Telephone: 0800 012 1888

Call charges

Calls to 0800 numbers are free from BT landlines and some mobile phone operators but you may have to pay if you:

  • use another phone company
  • use a mobile phone (except O2, Orange, Vodafone, T-Mobile, Virgin Media and Tesco Mobile)
  • are calling from abroad

Calls from mobile phones can cost up to 40p a minute, so check the cost of the calls with your service provider.


Textphones are for people who find it hard to speak or hear clearly. Textphone numbers can only receive calls made from another textphone. If you do not have a textphone of your own but need to use one, try:

  • your local library
  • an advice centre like the Citizens Advice Bureau

They may have one you can use.

Downloading a claim form

The claim form is called Employment and Support Allowance ESA1. If you would like to fill in the claim form by yourself, you can download it. You will have to print this form and post it to Jobcentre Plus.

There are guidance notes which you need to read before filling in the claim form.

There are two versions of the ESA1 form. One version must be printed and filled in with a pen. The other version can be filled in using the computer.

You can save this interactive form as you fill it in. This means that you do not have to complete the form in one go. The 'save' feature only works in Adobe Reader 7.0 and above.

After you have completed the form on screen, you will have to print and sign it.

Please note that these forms do not apply in Northern Ireland.

You can download the claim form ESA1 using the following links.

What to do if your circumstances change

It is important to contact the Jobcentre Plus office dealing with your claim if your circumstances change. You can do this by telephone - the number will be on letters they have sent to you. For example if:

  • you do any work, including voluntary work
  • you start training and get a training allowance
  • you change your address
  • you have been in hospital for 52 weeks and part of your benefit is paid for someone else
  • you go abroad

How to appeal

You can ask the office that dealt with your claim to look again at their decision if you:

  • are refused Employment and Support Allowance
  • have questions about your payment

If you are still unhappy with the outcome, you can appeal.

Useful contacts

Additional links

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