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Employment & Support Allowance

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a benefit for people who are unable to work due to illness or disability. There are two types of ESA, you may be entitled to claim one or both of them:

You might be transferred to ESA if you’ve been claiming other benefits like Income Support or Incapacity Benefit.

 

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If you’re ill or disabled, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) offers you:

Financial support if you’re unable to work

Personalised help so that you can work if you’re able to

You can apply for ESA if you’re employed, self-employed or unemployed.

You might be transferred to ESA if you’ve been claiming other benefits like Income Support or Incapacity Benefit.

 

Work Capability Assessment

You must have a Work Capability Assessment while your ESA claim is being assessed. This is to see to what extent your illness or disability affects your ability to work.

 

You’ll then be placed in one of 2 groups if you’re entitled to ESA:

 

1. Work-related activity group, where you’ll have regular interviews with an adviser

2. Support group, where you don’t have interviews

 

What you’ll get

How much ESA you get depends on:

 

1. Your circumstances, such as income

2. The type of ESA you qualify for

3. Where you are in the assessment process

 

Eligibility

You may get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if your illness or disability affects your ability to work and you’re:

 

1. Under State Pension age

2. Not getting Statutory Sick Pay or Statutory Maternity Pay and you haven’t gone back to work

3. Not getting Jobseeker’s Allowance

 

You can apply for ESA if you’re employed, self-employed, unemployed or a student on Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

 

You may get ESA if you’ve lived or worked abroad and paid enough UK National Insurance (or the equivalent in an EEA or other country with which the UK has an agreement).

 

You need to be entitled to apply for Universal Credit to claim ‘new style’ ESA.

 

Use a benefits calculator to check your eligibility.

 

Repeat claims

In most cases, you won’t be eligible for ESA again if you were found capable of doing some work after your Work Capability Assessment. The main exceptions are where:

 

1. Your current condition has got a lot worse

2. You’re claiming for a new condition

 

Work Capability Assessment

 

While your claim is being assessed you’ll get a letter telling you where to go for your Work Capability Assessment and explaining what to do.

 

You must also fill in the ‘Capability for work questionnaire’ during the application. The questionnaire is different in Northern Ireland.

 

Your benefit may be stopped if you don’t fill in the questionnaire or go for the assessment.

 

You may be able to get a recording of the assessment.

 

Claiming ESA if you work

Your ESA isn’t usually affected if you either:

 

1. Earn up to £20 a week

2. Work for less than 16 hours a week and earn up to £115.50 a week, for 52 weeks or less (or for any length of time if you’re in the support group)

 

This is called ‘permitted work’.

 

You can also do ‘supported permitted work’ and earn up to £115.50 a week. This must be part of a treatment programme, or supervised by someone from a local council or voluntary organisation whose job it is to arrange work for disabled people.

 

You must tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if you start doing permitted or supported permitted work. They’ll send you form PW1 to fill in and send back to them.

 

Any volunteer work you do needs to be reported. It normally doesn’t affect your ESA.

 

Tell the Jobcentre Plus office dealing with your claim if your circumstances change (for example your income changes or you go abroad) as this can affect your ESA.

 

Your income and savings

Your income may affect your income-related or contribution-based ESA. Income can include:

 

1. You and your partner’s income

2. Savings over £6,000

3. Pension income

 

You won’t qualify for income-related ESA if you have savings over £16,000.

 

If you’re already getting income-related ESA

 

You don’t need to do anything now. Your local Jobcentre Plus will tell you when you have to claim Universal Credit.

 

What you'll get

You can get financial support and work-related support through Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

 

Financial support

You’ll normally get the assessment rate for 13 weeks after your claim. This will be:

 

Up to £57.90 a week if you’re aged under 25

Up to £73.10 a week if you’re aged 25 or over

 

After that, if you’re entitled to ESA, you’ll be placed in one of 2 groups and will receive:

 

1. Up to £102.15 a week if you’re in the work-related activity group

2. Up to £109.30 a week if you’re in the support group

 

If you’re in the support group and on income-related ESA, you’re also entitled to the enhanced disability premium at £15.75 a week.

 

You may also qualify for the severe disability premium at £61.85 per week.

 

If the assessment takes longer than 13 weeks your benefit will be backdated to the 14th week of the claim.

 

If you want to start claiming ESA in January

 

Your contribution-based ESA may be delayed if both of the following apply:

 

1. You were self-employed in the last tax year (6 April 2015 to 5 April 2016)

2. You haven’t paid your Class 2 National Insurance (NI)

3. You pay your Class 2 NI as part of your self-assessment tax return.

 

If you can’t pay your Class 2 NI by 31 January or you owe other money to HMRC (for example, income tax) you should contact HMRC.

 

Work-related support

Following your Work Capability Assessment you’ll be placed in either the work-related activity group or support group if you’re entitled to ESA.

 

Work-related activity group

You must go to regular interviews with an adviser who can help with things like job goals and improving your skills.

 

Support group

You don’t have to go to interviews, but you can ask to talk to a personal adviser. You’re usually in this group if your illness or disability severely limits what you can do.

 

Benefits sanctions

Your ESA can be reduced if you don’t go to interviews or do work-related activity as agreed with your adviser. This reduction can continue for up to 4 weeks after you restart the interviews or activity.

 

You’ll get a ‘sanction letter’. Tell your ESA adviser if you have a good reason for missing the interview.

 

You’ll get another letter if the decision is made to give you a sanction. Your benefit will only be affected once a decision has been made.

 

You should contact your local council immediately if you claim Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction. They’ll tell you what to do to continue getting support.

 

If you get a sanction you can:

 

1. Ask for the decision to be looked at again

2. Ask for a ‘hardship payment’

 

Hardship payments

You may be able to get a hardship payment if your income-related ESA has been reduced because of a sanction or fraud penalty. You don’t have to pay it back.

 

A hardship payment is a reduced amount of your ESA (usually 60%).

 

Eligibility

You can get a hardship payment if you can’t pay for rent, heating, food or other basic needs for you or your child.

 

You must be 18 or over.

 

How to claim

Speak to your Jobcentre Plus adviser or work coach to find out how to claim a hardship payment.

 

How you’re paid

All benefits, pensions and allowances are paid into your bank, building society or credit union account.

 

Bank holidays

If your payment is due on a bank holiday, you’ll be paid on the last working day before the holiday.

 

The benefit cap limits the amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can get. Some individual benefits aren’t affected, but it may affect the total amount of benefit you get. The cap won’t affect you if you’re in the support group.

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Employment & Support Allowance

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Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a benefit for people who are unable to work due to illness or disability. There are two types of ESA, you may be entitled to claim one or both of them:

You might be transferred to ESA if you’ve been claiming other benefits like Income Support or Incapacity Benefit.

 

What would you like to do?

Please click the appropriate link.

 

Get more information about Employment & Support Allowance

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