You can get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if your ability to work is limited by ill health or a disability. ESA has two elements, contributory ESA and income-related ESA. You may receive either one of these, or both together, depending on your circumstances.
If you’re ill or disabled, Employment and Support Allowance offers you:
- financial support if you’re unable to work
- personalised help so that you can work if you’re able to
The 2 types of ESA are:
- contribution-based ESA – usually you get this if you’ve got enough National Insurance contributions
- income-related ESA – usually you get this on its own or on top of contribution-based ESA, if you’re on a low income
Contribution-based ESA lasts 1 year if you’re in the work-related activity group. You may be able to re-apply at least 12 weeks after your contribution-based ESA ends. You may qualify again depending on:
- National Insurance contributions you paid in different tax years
- whether your health deteriorates and you’re placed in the support group
There’s no time limit on how long you can claim contribution-based ESA if you’re in the support group.
You may qualify for income-related ESA if you no longer qualify for contribution-based ESA. How much you get depends on your circumstances. There’s no time limit on income-related ESA.
Are you entitled to ESA?
To be entitled to ESA, you must:
- have a limited capability for work. This is tested under the ‘work capability assessment’
- be at least 16 years old
- be under state pension age (ESA stops when you reach that age)
- satisfy the residence and presence tests and
- not be in work; however some types of work are permitted.
To be entitled to contributory ESA, you must also pass a contributory test and income-related ESA, you must also pass a low income test. You can apply for ESA if you’re employed, self-employed or unemployed. You may also be transferred to ESA if you’ve been claiming other benefits like Income Support or Incapacity Benefit.
What will you get?
You’ll normally get the assessment rate for 13 weeks after your claim. This will be:
- up to £57.35 a week if you’re aged under 25
- up to £72.40 a week if you’re aged 25 or over
After that, if you’re entitled to ESA, you’ll be placed in 1 of 2 groups and will receive:
- up to £101.15 a week if you’re in the work-related activity group
- up to £108.15 a week if you’re in the support group
If the assessment takes longer than 13 weeks your benefit will be backdated to the 14th week of the claim.
Work Capability Assessment
If you are making a new claim for ESA, a 13-week assessment phase will normally apply to you. During this assessment phase you should undergo a ‘work capability assessment’. However, delays are currently occurring and your assessment period may be extended beyond 13 weeks. You are paid a lower level of ESA during the 13-week assessment phase.
The assessment phase will not be applied if you are terminally ill or if you are reclaiming ESA within 12 weeks of an earlier claim (and had already completed the assessment phase in that claim).
You must go to 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 1 of 2 groups if you’re entitled to ESA:
- work-related activity group, where you’ll have regular interviews with an adviser
- support group, where you don’t have interviews
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.
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.
How is ESA paid?
All benefits, pensions and allowances are paid into an account, eg your bank or building society account. 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.
If you want to discuss any benefit claims either for you or your cared for, please speak to our dedicated Benefits Support Worker… Call 0191 4900121 or email us to make an appointment.