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Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) - Can I get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)?

Find out more about Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Can I get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)?

You may be able to get one or both types of Employment and Support Allowance depending on your circumstances.

Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

Income-related Employment and Support Allowance is being replaced by Universal Credit.  You will only be able to make a new claim for Income-related Employment and Support Allowance in the situations listed below.  If you or your partner are receiving a 'legacy benefit' such as Child Tax Credit or Housing Benefit, you will lose these if you make a claim for Universal Credit. 

You can find out whether you can make a claim for Income-related ESA by using our Benefits Calculator or by seeking advice.  You can find an advice agency in your area by using our Find-an-adviser tool.   Read more about Universal Credit on our website.

You can still get Income-related Employment and Support Allowance  in one of the following situations:

  • You are on Income-related ESA at present, unless you try to claim another legacy benefit or claim Universal Credit or
  • You are responsible for three or more children or
  • You (or your partner) are getting Contribution-based ESA and your claim for it started before your area became a Universal Credit full digital service area (Get advice first  if you think this might apply); 

In addition:

  • Your income is low enough and,
  • Your savings and capital are below £16,000 and,
  • You have limited capability for work

You can only get ESA whilst you are working if your work is "permitted work". You can read more about what counts as permitted work in our Permitted Work guide.

Contributory Employment and Support Allowance

You can get contributory ESA if you:

You can only get ESA whilst you are working if your work is "permitted work". You can read more about what counts as permitted work in our Permitted Work guide.

Contribution-based ESA can be paid with Income-related ESA if you qualify for both.  If you qualify for Universal Credit instead of Income-related ESA, you can get Contribution-based ESA at the same time as Universal Credit.

A new claim for Contribution-based ESA is also known as a new claim for New-style Employment and Support Allowance.

Work Capability Assessment

When you claim ESA, you will have to show that you have limited capability for work, The Work Capability Assessment is used to decide whether you have limited capability for work. 

The Work Capability Assessment usually happens within the first 13 weeks of your ESA claim and is made up of two parts:

  • Limited Capability for Work Questionnaire (ESA50)
  • Medical Assessment

The questionnaire, called an ESA50, will be sent to you. You will need to complete and return the questionnaire for your claim to continue. You can find out more about completing the form on our Questionnaire (ESA50) page.

You will usually need to attend a medical assessment in person. A healthcare professional will see you in a face-to-face appointment and then report their findings to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The DWP will then decide whether you have limited capability for work, based on your questionnaire and the report from the medical assessment. They will decide how many points you score in the Work Capability Assessment.  If you score less than 15 points, you are fit for work and your ESA will stop. If you score 15 points or more, you have limited capability for work and your ESA will continue. 

If the DWP decide that you have limited capability for work, you will be placed in one of two groups:

  • work-related activity group
  • support group

People in the work-related activity group have to carry out activities to prepare for returning to work, such as attending work-focused interviews at the Jobcentre. People in the support group do not have to carry out any activities.

People who have a terminal illness

If you have a terminal illness, there are special rules. You will be automatically placed in the support group from the start of your claim without having to be assessed.

 

Updated December 2018

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