Employment and Support Allowance

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is paid to people of working age whose illness or disability affects their ability to work.

  • When you make a new claim, you will need to get medical certificates from your GP called Fit Notes. 
  • You must be under state pension age and not getting Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).
  • You can claim ESA if you are employed, self-employed, unemployed or a student receiving Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.   
  • You will be transferred onto ESA if you have been claiming Incapacity Benefit or Income Support on the grounds of incapacity.
  • You normally cannot carry out any work whilst claiming ESA unless it is Permitted Work.
  • You will have to undergo a Work Capability Assessment (WCA) which will assess if you have limited capability for work.  It also determines the rate at which ESA is payable. 

How to claim Employment and Support Allowance

  • The quickest way to claim ESA is by phoning the Jobcentre Plus at their  First Contact Centre on 0800 055 6688.  
  • You can also download and complete an Employment and Support Allowance Claim Form and send it to your local Jobcentre Plus office. 

Types of Employment and Support Allowance

There are two types of ESA: New Style ESA and Income-Related ESA

New style ESAYou can only get New Style ESA if you have paid enough National Insurance contributions in certain tax years. 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 ESAIncome-Related ESA is only available to people in receipt of, or were entitled within the last month to, a benefit that includes a Severe disability premium. It is means tested and is only payable if your income or savings are below a certain limit.  You do not need to have paid National Insurance contributions.

How much will I get?

How much you get depends on your circumstances, your income and savings and the type of ESA you qualify for. 

It also depends on whether you are considered to have either:

  • Limited capability for work - your benefit will include a Work-Related Activity Component or
  • Limited capability for work-related activity - your benefit will include a Support Component.

This is determined by the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) which is normally carried out during the first 13 weeks of your claim (the assessment phase).  The assessment phase can be extended beyond 13 weeks if there is a delay in the WCA process.  

Assessment Phase (First 13 weeks)

During the assessment phase, you will receive an amount of ESA called the assessment rate.   

The basic amounts payable during the assessment phase are:

AgeWeekly Amount Payable (April 2019 rates)
Under 25                      Up to £57.90
25 or over          Up to £73.10

If you are entitled to Income-Related ESA, you may receive more than the above amounts depending on whether you have a partner or if you qualify for additional amounts such as benefit premiums and/or housing costs.  You may also receive less than the above amounts depending on your income or savings and those of your partner (if you have one).  You can find out how much you may be able to get by using an independent benefits calculator

Main Phase (week 14 onwards)

Once the WCA has been applied and it has been decided that you have either limited capability for work or limited capability for work-related activity, you will be placed in one of two groups and your benefit will increase. This happens from the 14th week of your claim (the main phase).    

If you are terminally ill and satisfy special benefit rules, you will be placed in the Support Group and your benefit will increase straight away. 

The basic amounts payable during the main phase are:

WCA DecisionGroup PlacementComponentWeekly Amount Payable (April 2019 rates)
You are considered to have limited capability for workWork-Related Activity GroupWork-Related Activity Component of £29.05 per week (if your claim was made before April 2017)Up to £102.15
You are considered to have limited capability for work-related activitySupport GroupSupport Component of £38.55 per weekUp to £111.65

If you are entitled to Income-Related ESA, you may receive more than the above amounts depending on whether you have a partner or if you qualify for additional amounts such as benefit premiums and/or housing costs.  You may also receive less than the above amounts depending on your income or savings and those of your partner (if you have one).  

What happens if I have been turned down for Employment and Support Allowance?

If you have been refused Employment and Support Allowance or if you have received a decision you are not happy about, you can ask for the decision to be looked at again.  This is called a mandatory reconsideration. You will not be paid any ESA whilst your case is being reconsidered and you may need to claim Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) or Universal Credit (UC) instead. 

If the decision is not revised in your favour, then you can appeal. ESA then can go into payment at the assessment rate pending your Work Capability Assessment appeal as long it is the first time you have failed to satisfy the Work Capability Assessment and you provide Fit Notes from your GP. If your appeal is refused, you will not have to repay any of the Employment and Support Allowance that is paid to you pending your appeal. 

Contact details

Welfare Rights Team

Pullar House, 35 Kinnoull Street, Perth, PH1 5GD
Tel 01738 476900 (Option 1)