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Employment and Support Allowance Types: Contributory and Income-Related

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There are two types of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) - Contributory and Income-Related. The one you get will depend on whether or not you satisfy the separate conditions of entitlement. It is possible to receive one or both.

Contributory ESA

  • You will need to have paid enough National Insurance contributions in specific tax years in order to qualify for Contributory ESA.  If you do satisfy the contribution conditions, you will receive a flat-rate benefit payment for yourself only.
  • Contributory ESA does not include any extra amounts for a partner (if you have one), or for help towards housing costs.  It also does not include benefit premiums.  In order to get these extra amounts, you will have to claim and be entitled to Income-Related ESA.  
  • If you have a workplace pension or a personal pension (including permanent health insurance payments) that pays more than £85 per week, Contributory ESA will be reduced by half of the gross amount over this limit. For example, if you receive £95 per week (before tax) from a personal pension, Contributory ESA is reduced by £5 (half of the amount over £85).  if you have more than one workplace or personal pension, they are added together for this calculation.  If you receive a pension in respect of someone who is now deceased, for example, your late husband's workplace pension, this will not affect your Contributory ESA. 
  • Contributory ESA is time limited to 365 days (52 weeks) unless it has been decided that you have limited capability for work-related activity and you have been placed in the Support Group.  

Income-Related ESA

  • This can be paid to you if:
    • you have not paid enough National Insurance contributions to qualify for Contributory ESA OR
    • the amount of Contributory ESA you are receiving is not enough for you to live on OR
    • your Contributory ESA has come to an end due to the 365 day time limiting. 
  • The amount you get depends on any income or savings you or your partner (if you have one) may have. 
  • You cannot get Income-Related ESA if you and your partner's savings are £16,000 or above. 
  • You will get  an extra amount for your partner (if you have one) and you may also qualify for additional amounts such as benefit premiums and/or help towards housing costs. 
  • Unlike Contributory ESA, Income-Related ESA is not time limited and you can carry on getting it as long as you satisfy the conditions of entitlement including satisfying the Work Capability Assessment. 

Benefit Premiums

In addition to the basic amount of Income-Related ESA payable, you may qualify for one or more of the following benefit premiums:

PremiumQualifying CriteriaWeekly Amount (April 2016 rates)                                                      

You or you partner must be entitled to Carer's Allowance, even if you are not actually paid it due to the overlapping benefit rules (because you receive another benefit). This premium is payable for each person who qualifies.

Single £34.60
Enhanced Disability

You or your partner must satisfy one of the following:

  • be placed in the Support Group
  • be under the qualifying age for Pension Credit and receiving the highest rate care component of Disability Living Allowance.

If you have a partner you will be paid the couple rate of this premium. 

Single £15.75

Couple £22.60

Severe Disability

You or your partner must satisfy all of the following:

  • be receiving the care component of Disability Living Allowance (middle or highest rate) or Disability Living Allowance 
  • be treated as living alone 
  • no one must be receiving Carer's Allowance for looking after you.

There is a couple rate if both of you qualify.

Single £61.85


This is paid if you, or your partner, have reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit. 

Single with no component £78.10

Single with WRAC £49.05

Single with Support Component £41.90

Couple with no component £116.00

Couple with WRAC £86.95

Couple with Support Component £79.80

You can find out how much ESA you may be able to get according to your individual circumstances by using an independent benefits calculator.


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