What to expect at an ESA assessment for depression

esa assessment depression

In this article, we’ll discuss how one should prepare for an ESA assessment for depression.

We have some examples of what type of questions you might be asked and advice on how to best prepare for your medical assessment. 

What to expect at an ESA assessment for depression

What is an ESA assessment for depression?

An ESA assessment for depression is a medical evaluation carried out by a Healthcare Professional, that will look at the effects that depression has on your ability to carry out a range of everyday activities.

If you score 15 points or more at the ESA assessment, you will meet the criteria for limited capability for work and will be awarded the benefit. 

Can you claim ESA for depression?

The majority of ESA claims are for stress, anxiety, and depression.

It is possible to claim ESA for depression if this condition, among other consequences, prevents you from working.

What should I do before my ESA assessment for depression?

Before your scheduled ESA assessment you have to check with the Health Assessment Advisory Service that the center you’re going to has got everything you need, in order to feel as comfortable as possible. 

For example, you can ask them how is the room you are going to be assessed in if you get anxious in enclosed spaces.

You ask for an interpreter if English is not your first language, or for a signer if you need one.

If it matters, you can also ask for the person carrying out the assessment to be the same gender as you.

If your mental health makes it difficult or impossible for you to travel to an assessment, you can ask for the assessment to be done at home instead.

However, the Health Assessment Advisory Service will ask you to give them information from your doctor, or another medical professional, to explain why you can’t travel.

This medical assessment is very important, so try not to miss an appointment even though it is hard sometimes to talk about your struggles with a stranger. 

How to prepare for the assessment

There are a few things you can do to prepare for your assessment that might make it feel less stressful on the day.

Think about how depression affects your daily routine, relationships, work commitments, your life. 

Think about a typical day and what are you experiencing because of your depression. How do you feel on a bad day?

What are your difficulties? For example, you can say you have trouble sleeping, you can’t focus and feel fatigued all the time- if that’s the case.

It might be useful to write things down in a diary and to bring it with you at the assessment.

This way, you’ll make sure you don’t forget any important details. 

What to take with you at the ESA assessment 

At the ESA assessment, you will have to take to you a form of identification. The best choice is a passport.

If you don’t have a passport, you will have to bring three different types of identification such as your birth certificate, your full driving license, a recent bank statement that shows your name and address or, a gas or electricity bill.

You should also have with you any pills or medication you need. 

You can bring a friend or family member with you and take them into the actual assessment with you for support if you want to.

You can also ask for your assessment to be sound recorded – you should do this as early as possible before the assessment.

Call the Health Assessment Advisory Service to ask for this.

What happens at the medical assessment

At the medical assessment a Healthcare Professional, which is an independent medically qualified assessor, will check how your mental health, particularly your depression symptoms, affects your ability to work. 

You should expect to be asked some questions related to your condition, as the Healthcare Professional looks for evidence to sustain your claim.

Some ESA assessment of depression questions include:

  • Do you know what you are here for?
  • What is your diagnosis?
  • How long have you had this diagnosis?
  • How are the depression symptoms affecting your daily routine?
  • Do you have any hobbies or interests?
  • Do you have any suicidal thoughts?

Be open and honest. Try to answer all the questions and as broadly as possible. Give facts, details, be exact about your struggles. 

The assessor doesn’t make the decision about your ESA – they make a recommendation to the DWP after your assessment.

At your assessment, they won’t be able to tell you what they’re going to recommend.

You can get a copy of your assessment report by asking the DWP office that’s looking after your claim.

The phone number will be on any letters you’ve had from them about your ESA claim.

You should know that you have to score 15 points in any individual activities, or a total of 15 points for a combination of the physical or mental activities, in order to meet the criteria for limited capability for work.

If you score below 15 points, you are not entitled to ESA.

What to expect at an ESA assessment for depression

DOs and DON’Ts at your medical assessment

Do:

  • Tell the Healthcare Professional everything you can that’s relevant to your illness, health condition or disability, even if it’s already on your form
  • Back up what you’ve said on the capability for work questionnaire with any evidence you can, like a doctor’s letter or examples of things that have happened to you
  • Ask for any help you need – it can make the assessment less stressful

Don’t:

  • Exaggerate or lie about your condition
  • Feel you have to do anything you normally wouldn’t be able to do
  • Expect the assessor to be ‘on your side’ – they’re there to ask questions, not to make sure you get ESA.

After your assessment, a decision-maker from the DWP will look at the recommendation made by the assessor and use this to decide if you can get ESA.

Conclusions

In this article, we discussed how one should prepare for an ESA assessment for depression.

We gave you examples of what questions you might be asked and we gave you advice on how to best prepare for the medical assessment. 

What’s important to mention is no matter how nervous you feel on the day of the assessment, do your best and go to the meeting.

If you don’t show up, the DWP will assume that you no longer need the ESA benefit.

Remember that you can always ask someone to go with you, it can make the assessment less stressful. 

Let us know your opinion on this blog post or if you have any questions in the comments section below.

Also, feel free to share what your worries are regarding your ESA application.

What to expect at an ESA assessment for depression

FAQ about the ESA assessment for depression

Can I go on ESA with depression?

You can claim ESA for depression.

Before making the ESA claim, however, you have to get a medical certificate, called a fit note, from your doctor.

The fit note has to prove how the condition has affected your life and whether you are fit for work. 

Is it hard to get disability for depression?

It is not hard to get disability for depression, if your mental health is so severe, even with anti-depressive medication, that you can’t work any type of job.

In this case, you may be able to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

How often do you get an ESA assessment?

You will get another ESA assessment every year, so the DWP can make sure you’re still not fit for work.

However, if you’re in the support group or getting income-related ESA, your claim will be ongoing. 

What do 15 points mean for ESA?

15 points – is the threshold/minimum score that entitles you to payment of ESA as having Limited Capability for Work (LCW), which in turn means you would be placed in the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG).

Can you get any benefits for depression?

To qualify for Social Security disability benefits on the basis of depression, you must show you have severe depression.

Usually, a fit note from your doctor will prove this.

What medical conditions qualify for ESA?

The following medical conditions qualify for ESA:

– Age-Related Cognitive Decline.

– Anxiety.

– Any Psychiatric Condition.

– Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD or ADHD)

– Autism.

– Bipolar Disorder.

– Depression.

– Dyslexia.

– Emotionally Overwhelmed

– Panic Attacks

-Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

– Separation Anxiety

– Social Phobia

– Stress Problems

Recommendations

  1. Be Held: Daily Inspiration When Facing Depression
  2. Positive Behavior Supports for Adults with Disabilities in Employment, Community, and Residential Settings
  3. The Depression Workbook for Teens: Tools to Improve Your Mood, Build Self-Esteem, and Stay Motivated
  4. Light Therapy Lamp
  5. Employment and Support Allowance: A Guide to ESA for People with a Disability or Long Term Health Condition, Their Families, Carers and Advisors 

References

  1. ESA assessment – Healthasured
  2. ESA claim – Citizens Advice
  3. Do I Have Depression and Can an ESA Help? – ESA Doctors

What to expect at an ESA assessment for depression

Nadejda Romanciuc

Nadejda Romanciuc holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and a diploma in Addiction studies. She is part of the Romanian Association of Integrative Psychotherapy as a psychotherapist under supervision. She's practicing online counselling for over two years and is a strong advocate for mental health.