Employment and Support Allowance can be a lifeline for those unable to work due to illness or disability. But what is it and how do you claim it? Read on to find out more.
What is Employment and Support Allowance?
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a type of government benefit available for those in need. You can claim Employment and Support Allowance if you’re unable to work because of an illness or disability. You may also be able to claim ESA alongside Universal Credit, depending on your National Insurance record.
How Much Employment and Support Allowance Can I Get?
Every claim for ESA is medically assessed by a healthcare professional. While your claim is assessed, you’ll typically be paid an assessment rate of £77.00 for 13 weeks or until the assessment is concluded.
If the outcome of your assessment is that you are eligible for ESA, you will be put into one of two groups. The group depends on whether the assessment judges that you may be able to work again in the future.
The 2 groups are:
- Work-related activity group. In this group you can receive up to £77.00. The group is for those who may be able to return to work in the future.
- Support group. In this group, you can receive up to £117.60. The group is for those who are unlikely to be able to return to work because of an illness or disability.
The amount of ESA you will be eligible for is based on your National Insurance contributions and the amount you receive is taxable.
What Might Impact on The Amount of ESA I Can Get?
The amount of ESA you receive may be reduced if you receive any of the following:
- A private pension.
- Any other benefit such as Universal Credit.
- Any work-based payments.
Can I Get Other Benefits if I Receive Employment and Support Allowance?
Yes, you can. There are a variety of means-tested benefits that you might still receive whilst claiming ESA. These include:
- Universal Credit. People claiming ESA might also be eligible for Universal Credit which can pay extra amounts depending on the individuals’ circumstances, such as if they care for someone.
- Enhanced Disability Premium. Those in the ESA support group may also be able to receive enhanced disability premium. This premium is for those who cannot work due to a disability.
You can claim new style ESA and Universal Credit at the same time but if you do, the Universal Credit amount will be reduced by the amount of ESA you get.
You can’t usually get ESA at the same time as Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income Support.
If you’re employed but you can’t work, you’ll usually get Statutory Sick Pay from your employer for 28 weeks. You can’t get SSP and ESA at the same time, but you can start your ESA claim up to 3 months before your SSP ends. It’s worth claiming ESA early so your payments start as soon as possible.
How Do I Know if I am I eligible to claim Employment and Support Allowance?
You might be eligible to claim the governments’ new style ESA if you:
- Have limited or no capability for work because of an illness or disability.
- Are aged over 16 years old.
- Are under State Pension age (currently rising to 67 for both men and women by 2028).
- Live in England, Wales, or Scotland
- Have made enough National Insurance contributions in the 2 years prior to application.
- Do not receive Statutory Sick Pay.
- Are not working or only completing a limited amount of work.
- Receive no or low income.
- Have less than £16,000 in savings.
Do I Have to Be Unable to Work to Receive ESA?
Not necessarily. You might be able to get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you have difficulty working because you’re sick or disabled. This is called having ‘limited capability for work’.
You can’t usually get ESA at the same time as Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Income Support.
If you’re employed but you can’t work, you’ll usually get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from your employer for 28 weeks. You can’t get SSP and ESA at the same time, but you can start your ESA claim up to 3 months before your SSP ends. It’s worth claiming ESA early so your payments start as soon as possible.
Can I Get ESA if I am Self Employed?
Yes, you can. ESA is available to those who are self-employed, and the application process is the same.
I’ve Heard That There Are Different Types Of ESA. What Are They?
The type of ESA that most people can claim nowadays is called ‘new style’ ESA. New style ESA is solely for those who can claim Universal Credit.
There are 2 old types of ESA, which some people still receive. These are called ‘income-based ESA’ and ‘contribution-based ESA’.
- Contribution-based ESA is for those who have paid the required amount of National Insurance contributions.
- Income-based ESA is for those who have paid limited National Insurance contributions and is means tested on the amount of income the applicant has available to them.
New applicants are only allowed to apply for ‘New Style’ ESA and the government is gradually moving those on income-based ESA to the New Style scheme.
How Do I Know if I Have Made Enough National Insurance Contributions?
You can check your National Insurance record on GOV.UK. The website will tell you if have a ‘full year’ of contributions, and if this has come from employment, self-employment, or National Insurance credits.
You’ll meet the National Insurance conditions if you have either:
- 2 full years of contributions from employment or self-employment for both the most recent tax years.
- 1 full year of contributions from employment or self-employment and the other full year from National Insurance credits.
Can I Get ESA as a Student?
If you’re in full-time education, you can only get income-related ESA if you also get Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, or Armed Forces Independence Payment.
Employment and Support Allowance can be a vital benefit to those who find themselves in the unfortunate position that they cannot work.
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