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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 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.

How much money could I get?

Every claim for ESA is medically assessed by a healthcare professional and you receive £73.10 a week for the first 13 weeks.

If the outcome of your assessment is 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 £74.70
Support No time limit £113.55

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
  • 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?

  1. 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.
  2. Contact your local Age UK for advice on making a claim if you’re not sure and need extra help.
  3. 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.
  4. If you’re entitled to ESA, you’ll be placed in the ‘work-related activity group’ or the ‘support group’.

What are the changes to ESA?

New claims for income-related ESA are no longer available as this has been replaced by Universal Credit.

What do I do next?

Contact your local Age UK for advice


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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.

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Last updated: Apr 20 2021

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