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Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a benefit for people who can't work becuase of an illness or disability.

What is Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and how much money could I get?

You may be able to claim new style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) with, or instead of, Universal Credit, depending on your National Insurance record. The remainder of this section is about new style ESA, which has replaced contributory ESA for new claimants.

If you already claim income-related ESA or contributory ESA, provided you continue to satisfy the entitlement conditions, you can continue to be paid these. If you claim income-related ESA, you will eventually be moved to Universal Credit.

Every claim for ESA is medically assessed by a healthcare professional and you receive £90.50 a week for the first 13 weeks.

If the outcome of your assessment is that you are eligible for ESA, you are put into a group, which in turn affects how much ESA you are paid. You may be put in to either:

  • the work-related activity group: This is for people who will prepare to return to work and will get some support to do that.
  • the support group: This is for people who are unable to return to work due to their illness or disability.
Group Time limit Amount per week
Work-related Up to one year Up to £90.50
Support No time limit £138.20

New style ESA is based on National Insurance contributions and is taxable. It may be reduced if you have a private pension or you’re claiming other benefits. You might also be eligible for Universal Credit that can pay extra amounts depending on your circumstances, such as if you care for someone. 

Am I eligible to claim ESA?

You might be eligible to claim new style ESA if you:

  • have a limited capability for work because of an illness or disability
  • are under state pension age
  • have made enough National Insurance contributions
  • aren’t getting Statutory Sick Pay
  • aren’t working

How can I claim Employment and Support Allowance?

Step one: To claim ESA 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. Alternatively, you can download a claim form from GOV.UK. You’ll need to include a medical certificate (called a 'fit note') from your GP and provide your GP contact details.

Step two: Contact your local Age Cymru for advice on making a claim if you’re not sure and need extra help.

Step three: After you apply you’ll be invited to attend a medical assessment called a 'work capability assessment' and fill in a 'limited capacity for work' questionnaire that looks at how your illness or disability affects what you do. After this you’ll be told whether you’re entitled to ESA.

Step four: If you’re entitled to ESA, you’ll be placed in the ‘work-related activity group’ or the ‘support group’.

What do I do next?

For more information call Age Cymru Advice on 0300 303 44 98


Last updated: Apr 04 2024

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