New ESA claimants – why you must get your application in before the end of March | 7 March 2017

March 7, 2017

With thanks for the following information to Patricia de Wolfe, hon benefits adviser for the South East London ME Support Group:

New claimants for Employment and Support Allowance – it's crucial to get your application in by Friday March 31.

From Monday 3 April, the amount payable to applicants who, on assessment, are placed in the work-related activity group (WRAG) on assessment will be almost £30 per week lower than at present.

Even if you are awaiting evidence, don't delay – the evidence can be sent in later.

The cut will not apply to existing ESA claimants who are reassessed after 3 April and placed in the WRAG.


Many people with ME who receive a support group award do so by virtue of regulation 35, which states that you qualify for the support group if there is a significant risk that simply preparing for work (not actually working) would be harmful to your health.

But numbers of support group awards have failed in the past year because of a stricter interpretation of regulation 35.

So if you are relying on regulation 35, it is probably wise to keep a record of instances where a very small exertion has harmed your health.

It would be particularly useful if you have had to see a doctor on one or more of these occasions. But witness statements might also help, e.g. from a partner/friend/carer.

If you are hoping to qualify for the support group on other grounds (the most common relevant support group descriptor for people with ME is that they cannot cover 50 metres on foot or in a manual wheelchair safely, reliably, reasonably often and in a reasonable time), your chances of success are probably as good as in previous years.

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