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Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

Being unable to work because of an illness or disability can be stressful, and that’s not to mention the additional money worries. Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) could help you if you find yourself in this situation.

What is Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)?

ESA is a benefit that could give you some money if you have an illness or disability that affects your ability to work.

There are 2 types of ESA:

  • contribution-based ESA – you can get this if you’ve paid enough National Insurance contributions
  • income-related ESA – you can get this if you’re on a low income, either on its own or in addition to contribution-based ESA

How much money could I get?

Every claim for ESA is assessed and this process usually takes 13 weeks. While your claim is being assessed, you’ll receive £73.10 a week for 13 weeks.

If the outcome of your claim is that you’re eligible for ESA, you’ll be put into a group, which will affect how much ESA you continue to receive. 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.

Depending on which group you’re placed in you’ll receive contribution-based ESA:

  • up to £73.10 a week for up to one year if you’re in the work-related activity group (you may get more than this if you made your claim before April 2017).
  • up to £109.65 a week if you’re in the support group (there’s no time limit on how long you receive this).

Contribution-based 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 income-related ESA that can give you extra amounts depending on your circumstances, such as your age or if your care for someone.  Income-related ESA isn’t taxable.

Can I claim it?

To claim either contribution-based or income-related ESA you need to:

  • be under State Pension age
  • have an illness or disability that affects your ability to work.not be claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support or Statutory Sick Pay

To be eligible to claim income-related ESA, you also need to:

  • have no income or a low income
  • not be claiming Universal Credit or have savings of more than £16,000.

There is no need for you to have paid National Insurance contributions.If you receive income-related ESA, you may also quality for other benefits such as Housing benefit, Council Tax Support and help with health costs.

How do I claim?

To claim ESA call the Employment and Support Allowance Centre or download the Employment and Support Allowance claim form.

Read more on the NI Direct website.

Age NI Advice Service

Every year our Advice Service deals with thousands of calls from older people in need. Call us today to make sure that you are receiving all the help and support available to you.

Call freephone 0808 808 7575
8am – 7pm 365 days a year


Last updated: Sep 11 2018

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