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Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

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


What is Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)?

You could claim Employment and Support Allowance if you're unable to work because of an illness or disability.

You may be able to claim ESA with, or instead of, Universal Credit, depending on your National Insurance record.

ESA has replaced contributory ESA for anyone making a claim for the first time.

But 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. Anyone already claiming income-related ESA, you will eventually be moved to Universal Credit.


How much Employment and Support Allowance could 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. 

If the outcome of your assessment is you are eligible for ESA, you are put into one of two groups, depending on whether you're assessed as being able to work again in the future. 

Group Amount per week Who gets this?
Work-related activity Up to £77.00 Those who may return to work in the future
Support Up to £117.60 Those unable to return to work because of an illness or disability

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 which can pay extra amounts depending on your circumstances, such as if you care for someone. 

Those in the support group can also apply for the enhanced disability premium.


Am I eligible to claim Employment and Support Allowance

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.

You can claim new style ESA and Universal Credit at the same time - but if you do, your Universal Credit amount will be reduced by the amount of ESA you get. 

What extra money are you entitled to?

Do you know what benefits you are entitled to? Our Benefits Calculator can help you, quickly and easily, to find out what you could be claiming.


How can I claim Employment and Support Allowance?

To make a claim, for yourself or someone else, you have to submit a form. There are a couple of ways you can do this. You can:

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. This looks at how your illness or disability affects you. After this, you’ll be told whether you’re entitled to ESA.

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

You'll be contacted about any additional evidence that's needed for your application and where this should be sent.


What are the changes to ESA?

New claims for income-related ESA are no longer available as this has been replaced by Universal Credit.

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We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 125 local Age UKs.

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Last updated: Apr 19 2022

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