Employment and Support Allowance

Woman with doctor

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:

  • Contributory ESA is based on your National Insurance contributions.
  • Income-related ESA depends on your income and savings.  

Can I claim Employment Support Allowance?

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 will 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 work-related activity group get less money and are expected to prepare for an eventual return to the job market.

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. It's a means-tested benefit so the amount you receive depends on your income and savings and your needs. If you have a partner, their circumstances are also taken into account. You can’t get income-related ESA if you have savings of more than £16,000.

How do I claim?

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 opens link in new window Gov.uk website to download a claim form.


More Information

Download factsheets from Age Scotland partner Age UK.

opens link in new window Download the guide Claiming benefits: a guide for people of working age (PDF 1.83 MB)

opens link in new window Download the factsheet Employment and Support Allowance (PDF, 251 KB)

opens link in new window Download the factsheet Calculating income-related Employment and Support Allowance (PDF 267 KB)



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