Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
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Claiming UC & new style ESA- first time posting

Eli27xEli27x Member Posts: 7 Listener
Hi- first time posting here- sorry if too many questions!
I have been claiming UC since August last year & have recently had my report back for ESA. I was placed in Limited capability for work group. 
After reading through my report, I have one of the descriptors; Coping with social engagement due to cognitive impairment or mental disorder.
Engagement in social contact is always precluded due to difficulty relating to others or significant distress experienced by the individual. 

I was under the impression that if you have a descriptor, you're placed in the Limited capability for work related activity group? Is this correct?

I submitted my MR two weeks ago- hoping to hear back shortly. 

My reason for claiming ESA is mental health issues & anxiety. However, I am due to go away on holiday and wondering if this is even allowed? My mental health issues are very much still there. My friends think a short break away abroad would be a good idea- to clear my head etc and have a bit of time. Will I be penalised for this? 

Many thanks for any replies 


  • Antonia_AlumniAntonia_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 1,781 Pioneering
    edited April 2019
    Welcome to the community @Eli27x thank you for sharing this with us. You may find this information useful on descriptors, from the Benefits and Work website. I will tag in @BenefitsTrainingCo to answer your question on taking a short break.
  • CockneyRebelCockneyRebel Member Posts: 5,257 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi Eli
    Taking a short break, upto 4 weeks is not a problem. Everyone is entitled to a holiday
    Be all you can be, make  every day count. Namaste
  • Eli27xEli27x Member Posts: 7 Listener
    Thanks CockneyRebel! 
    I was unsure if it would go against me because of my MH problems. A short break is 100% needed.
    Thanks for your help!
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger

    The descriptor you mention here is also a LCW (WRAG) descriptor. For you to qualify for the Support Group (LCWRA) with this then it will need to have applied the majority of the time.
    Proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice I have given to members here on the community.
  • Eli27xEli27x Member Posts: 7 Listener
    Hi Poppy
    thanks for your reply. 
    On my report, it shows the assessor has matched this descriptor with what I told her. I assumed that if you match any descriptor you are placed in LCWRA? 
    I have put in my MR as my mental health has got significantly worse to the point of self harm. 
    It’s never straight forward & I’m confused by the whole thing. 
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger

    Please be aware that they won't take into consideration any worsening of condition since the decision was made.

    Proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice I have given to members here on the community.
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,692 Pioneering
    Eli27x, looking at your query, I'm not sure if you are on UC alone or UC with contributory ESA (both can involve a work capability assessment). But it doesn't matter too much for the purposes of this advice.

    You say you've been placed in the limited capability for work group. That means that, for the time being, you can be required to attend work-focused interviews and/or take part in work preparation (attending training courses etc). So, if you do go away, you need to be sure that you can still get on your UC journal and see messages so that you don't miss anything. Also, I'd be wary of going abroad in case you are required to attend a work-focused interview at short notice. 

    I'm afraid that UC doesn't specifically allow holidays. I know this is very unhelpful in your situation. However, now that it's been decided you have limited capability for work, you can go away, as long as you avoid a sanction - that means making sure you can still see messages on your journal, you check it regularly, and if you need to attend an interview or a course etc, you are able to get back to do so. Going on holiday wouldn't be a good reason to miss an appointment, unless, for example, you were going on holiday specifically for treatment as recommended by a health professional, in which case you should tell the DWP this in advance. I'm sure your friends are right that a holiday would be a good thing, but their recommendation alone wouldn't be enough to make it a 'good reason' if you were unable to return for a DWP appointment.

    For information, you can carry on receiving UC for up to one month if you go abroad, but you must still meet all the conditions of UC, including keeping the conditions of your claimant commitment. Now you have limited capability for work, your claimant commitment should be reviewed. It is possible to carry on receiving UC for up to six months if your absence abroad is solely in connection with medically approved care or treatment. Unfortunately however, this doesn't exempt you from the requirement to attend work-focused interviews and work preparation, so it is of little use at the moment.

    You are right that 'engagement in social contact is always precluded' is one of the descriptors for the limited capability for work-related activity (LCWRA) assessment. All you need is to meet one of those descriptors to have LCWRA. If you do indeed meet one of those descriptors and this is specified in the assessor's report, then I am hopeful that you should be in the LCWRA group - in which case you do not have to meet any work-related requirements.

    If you do get this confirmed, then the rules about going abroad are the same, but it would be a lot easier to do so as you couldn't be expected to attend work-focused interviews etc. I would still advise checking your journal however, as you are required to report any changes of circumstance.

    As Poppy says, your MR request is a request to look at the decision again. It can't consider that you have got worse since. If you have got worse since, you may need to think about asking for a new work capability assessment. However, for the time being, as it sounds as if you should already be in the support group (before you got worse), it's worth seeing what happens with the MR, as it does sound as if your original decision might be wrong.

    As regards the holiday, I would be cautious. I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but the rules are clear - your work-related requirements are not suspended due to holiday. That means you would be very dependent on your work coach, for example, not inviting you to a work-focused interview during the holiday period, which can't be guaranteed. I would consider, if possible, getting confirmation that you are in the LCWRA group before going on holiday.

    I really hope your MR is successful. Let us know!

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  • Eli27xEli27x Member Posts: 7 Listener
    Hi there Many thanks for your reply! I’m not sure what sort of UC/ESA it is? I lost my job last year & started claiming UC which I get for myself & 9 year old. My work coach has been amazing & he really seems to understand my health issues. He is very good with appointments & always makes them in advance - the next app is middle of May. My friends are hoping to do a Thursday - Sunday trip before my next meeting. I always have access to my UC journal & check is regularly. It’s been over 2 weeks since I submitted my MR. I have a descriptor & after talking to my work coach he also agrees I should be in higher group. It’s just a waiting game unfortunately!
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