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Q5 - manual dexterity (moving your hands)

This advice applies to Wales

This question is on the bottom of page 10 on the form - see what it looks like

ESA50 page 10

How to answer the question

This question is about whether you find it difficult to use your hands and wrists because of a physical condition like Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis (MS).

"Can you use either hand to: press a button, such as a telephone keypad, turn the pages of a book, pick up a £1 coin, use a pen or pencil, use a suitable keyboard or mouse?"

  • Some of these things
  • None of these things
  • It varies

The DWP wants to know if you can do any of these tasks well enough with one of your hands. By well enough they mean whether you can:

  • make a mark, for example a tick or a cross with a pen or pencil
  • use a keyboard (including an adapted keyboard) with one hand - you don't need to be able to type fast
  • turn the pages of a book smoothly

Don't be embarrassed to say you can't do any of the tasks, for example if you have:

  • tremors
  • spasms
  • stiffness
  • problems with gripping
  • difficulties pinching

The DWP want to know how well you can use your hands doing everyday tasks - not just those mentioned in the question.

When you answer, think about whether you have problems doing other tasks, like preparing vegetables, turning on taps or getting your money out of a wallet or purse.

Think about whether you will sign your ESA form, or if you're not able to do this.

What to write in the box

It's important you tell the DWP more by explaining your situation in the box.

You should explain if, for example:

  • somebody else has to fill in forms for you because you can't grip a pen
  • it takes you a long time to get dressed because it's hard for you to fasten zips, buttons or shoelaces
  • using your hands, for example to open a jar lid or your front door with a key causes you pain
  • you drop things because you can't grip or pinch them
  • you can't drive because of your condition, for example if you can't grip the steering wheel or use a gear stick


Eric says: "I have tremors in my hands whenever I'm still. My wife has had to fill in this form for me as I can't use a computer or mouse because my hands shake too much and I end up either typing rubbish or accidentally deleting things. I used to use my computer all the time but as my Parkinson's has got worse I've stopped. I can't use my mobile phone any more either as the keypad is too small and fiddly and I kept accidentally calling people."

How the DWP assess this question

The DWP look at a list of statements called 'descriptors'. They'll give you a number of points depending on which descriptor applies to you.

The DWP add together all the points you get from the whole form. This means you can qualify for ESA even if you don't get all the points for this question.

Descriptors for question 5


5 (a) Cannot press a button (such as a telephone keypad) with either hand or cannot turn the pages of a book with either hand.

(b) Cannot pick up a £1 coin or equivalent with either hand. 15

(c) Cannot use a pen or pencil to make a meaningful mark with either hand.


(d) Cannot single-handedly use a suitable keyboard or mouse.

(e) None of the above apply. 0

Next steps

Question 6: Communicating - speaking, writing and typing

Back to Help filling in your ESA form

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