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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 one or both of them:
To claim either type of ESA you need to be under State Pension age and have an illness or disability that affects your ability to work. You can't claim ESA if you’re claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support or Statutory Sick Pay.
You'll probably have to attend a medical assessment. After this you’ll be told whether you’re considered fit for work, or whether you’re entitled to ESA.
If you are entitled to ESA, you’ll be placed in the ‘work-related activity group’ or the ‘support group’. People in the support group are exempt from the benefit cap.
People in the work-related activity group get less money and are expected to prepare for an eventual return to the job market. If you don't, your benefit can be reduced for a period. You may be entitled to contributory ESA if you meet the National Insurance conditions. If you’re in the work-related activity group, contributory ESA is only paid for one year; if you’re in the support group there’s no time limit. You don't need to have paid any National Insurance contributions to get income-related ESA. The amount you get depends on your income, savings, whether you're single or a couple, whether you get disability or carer's benefits, and the result of your assessment. You can’t get income-related ESA if you have savings of more than £16,000.
Call Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688 (textphone 0800 023 4888). They’ll ask you questions over the phone and fill in the form for you.
Or visit the GOV.UK website to download a claim form.
Download the guide Claiming benefits: a guide for people of working age (PDF 1.83 MB)
Download the factsheet Employment and Support Allowance (PDF, 251 KB)
Download the factsheet Calculating income-related Employment and Support Allowance (PDF 267 KB)
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