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ESA Support Group

Hi. I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder over 10 years ago along with anxiety problems. Since then I have been getting ESA. Recently I had to attend an 'assessment' and it has since been deemed that I will be placed in the 'work related activity group'. I feel this decision is wrong and will be appealing this, I have an Honours degree and worked for many years in the design industry until my condition became extremely severe; if I was able to work I would be.

What I would like to know is how long does this 'work related activity group' last for? Is it indefinite or is there a cut off point? Also if there is a cut off point what happens if I reach this without getting a job (which is very unlikely to happen) will I have to apply for another benefit? Will I get no further financial assistance, or will I be put into the 'support group'?

There seems to be little information regarding this and any advice would be helpful.

Thanks Sean

8 Replies

Hi Sean

If you take a look at the Benefits and Work website you will be able to garner all information you need about ESA and the difference between each group, Support and WRAG.



Thanks for your reply but it doesn't tell you how long does the WRAG lasts for, is it indefinite or is it for a set period.... I know what each group is I can find no information regarding the length of the thing?


Excerpt taken from benefits and work website:

Work-related activity group

What is the employment and support allowance work-related activity group?

The ESA work-related activity group is for claimants who the DWP consider will be capable of work at some time in the future and who they consider are capable of taking steps immediately towards moving into work (work-related activities).

However, the law explicitly states that work-related activities must not require claimants to 'apply for a job or undertake work, whether as an employee or otherwise'.

What are the main differences between the work-related activity group and the support group?

The major differences are that:

ESA work-related activity group members have to attend work-focused interviews and may have to undertake work-related activities, such as training or condition management programmes, but support group members do not;

ESA work-related activity group members get less money because the work-related activity component is paid at a lower rate than the support component;

the one year limit on claiming contributory ESA, applies to members of the work-related activity group, but not to members of the support group.

How do you qualify for the employment and support allowance work-related activity group?

Most claimants who qualify for the work-related activity group do so because they have scored enough points in the limited capability for work assessment. Others qualify because they are exempt or because they are covered by the exceptional circumstances rules, such as there being a danger to themselves or to other people if they were not placed in the work-related activity group.


Hi and thanks again Mrs M for replying it is appreciated, I know what the 2 groups are (support and WRAG). The excerpt which you kindly provided say's "the one year limit on claiming contributory ESA, applies to members of the work-related activity group, but not to members of the support group."

I believe there is income related ESA as well as the contributory and as I am single and live alone I think I should qualify for income related after this one year period. However.

What I really don't understand and really want to know is;

1. After the one year, will I still be on a WRAG (perhaps income related?),

2. Or will I be in the support group,

3. Or nothing at all?

I'm extremely confused on this matter.


Hi Sean, sorry to read of your problems with ESA. I've claimed that benefit and was put in the work related activity group. You will be in it for as long as they said you'd get ESA !. Doesn't the letter from DWP state how long your getting it for,before you have to re-apply, can be months to years to indefinite.?. I can also say that you have to be very seriously ill to be put in the support group it's so tough!. Being in WRAG group I was telephoned regularly by the job centre , had to go to careers to do a CV and emphasis was on doing voluntary work to see how I got on. I didn't make it. Of course you have to attend whatever they ask you to do otherwise there's a sanction.

I strongly recommend you go to citizens advice as they can tell you if you've got good grounds to appeal and will help you do it. They've got a good website that explains everything and has good links to other sources of info.

It's awful what's happened to you as you had a good career and very stressful dealing with the DWP when I'll. I hope I've helped and good luck if you do appeal.

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Hi Misty thanks for your kind words. I have been on ESA (previously disability benefit) for nearly 10 years and my condition is unlikely to get better. The letter I have just received regarding my claim just says after my recent assessment I have been moved from the support group to the WRAG it has no mention of the timescale involved, if I would need to make a new claim at any point, or indeed any explanation as to why this decision has been changed after 10 years.

The careers thing you mentioned will be of no use to me at all, the template for my C.V. is based on one provided by a previous employer (a well known design agency), which they provided for me when I was made redundant. The C.V. up until 2008 is very very good. I have previously worked in many high end agencies in London and have never failed a job interview, I don't need help with interview techniques. The reason I no longer work is that I have severe mood swings due to my Bi-Polar and I have no control over my sleeping patterns. When depressed I don't want to get up for days and during my manic episodes I may well not sleep at all for 3 or 4 days at a time. I have no control over when I will get up or go to bed and I have no control over my temperament. I'm quite sure the Job Centre can't help with these things. It's all a bit of a farce really, they are trying to rationalise something which is not rationale.

I will be going to citizens advice in the week and or course will be appealing the decision.

Thanks again I will post more when I have seen CAB

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Hi Sean-Murray

It's good your going to Citizens Advice this week. They will be able to phone the DWP on your behalf and find out how long you've been put in the WRAG for and start the appeals process . Good luck and keep us posted.


Will do Misty thanks again ;-)

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