ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) Overview: What is ESA ?

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a kind of assistance which is provided to people who are unable to take up employment due to certain disability or illness.

Though it's a complicated benefit, however you can manage to get financial support depending upon your individual condition & circumstances.

There are 2 types of ESA, and an individual may be eligible to claim either one or both of them:

  • Contribution-based ESA – An individual is eligible for contribution-based ESA if he /she has paid sufficient National Insurance (NI) contributions; It must be noted that contribution-based ESA is taxable
  • Income-related ESA – An individual is eligible for income-related ESA if he / she does not have an income or have a low income. Under this, it is not necessary for an individual to be paying NI contributions and it isn't taxable

ESA provides financial support to a person who is unable to work and personalised assistance to a person who can possibly work. In other words, an individual can get financial help and work-related support through ESA.

Financial support

In general, an individual will get the assessment rate for 13 weeks after the claim. The amount corresponding to this will be upto £57.90 a week if an individual is aged under 25; and upto £73.10 a week if an individual is aged 25 or above. Thereafter, if an individual is entitled to ESA, he / she will be placed in one of 2 groups and will receive upto £73.10 a week; if an individual is in the work-related activity group (an individual might be able to get more ESA in occupational activity group if he / she has applied before 3 April 2017) or upto £109.65 a week if an individual is in the support group. If an individual is in the support group and falls under the income-related ESA, he / she will be eligible for the enhanced disability premium at £15.90 a week. An individual may also be eligible for the severe disability premium at £62.45 per week. In case, the assessment takes more time than 13 weeks, the benefits will be backdated to the 14th week of the claim

Work-related support

Following the Work Capability Assessment, an individual will either be in the work-related activity group or support group if he / she is eligible for ESA. Under a work-related activity group, it is essential to have open-ended discussions with advisers like DNS Accountants who can provide guidance on issues such as career goals and improving skills. However, in a support group, an individual does not have to go to interviews; nevertheless he / she can talk to a personal adviser like DNS Accountants. An individual is ranked under this group if their disability or illness limits them to perform certain activities

Additionally, an individual cannot claim either type of ESA if they already claim income support, jobseeker's allowance or statutory sick pay. Moreover, an individual cannot claim income-related ESA if he / she claims Universal Credit or has savings in excess of £16,000. They will be required to be present at a medical assessment called a 'work capability assessment' and furthermore fill in a 'limited capacity for work' survey (the survey / questionnaire states how an individual's illness or disability affects what they do). Post the examination; an individual will be notified if they are considered fit for work, or whether he / she is entitled for ESA

Work Capability Assessment

When an individual claims ESA, he / she will have to give evidence that they have limited capability for work – Based on the evidence provided, the work capability assessment helps to determine whether an individual has limited capability for work. The Work Capability Assessment more often than not happens within the first 13 weeks of an individual's ESA claim and constitutes of two parts: medical assessment and Limited Capability for Work Questionnaire (ESA50)

The questionnaire will be shared with an individual. The person responsible will need to complete and return the questionnaire for the claim to continue. However, an individual will be required to attend a medical assessment in person. A healthcare professional will visit an individual i.e. a face-to-face meeting and report their findings to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Once the questionnaire is submitted to the DWP and the medical assessment, they will then decide if an individual has limited capability for work and also the DWP will decide how many points an individual scores in the Work Capability Assessment. In case the points scored are less than 15 points, an individual is declared 'fit to work' and their ESA will stop. On the other hand, if the score is 15 points or above, an individual will be considered under 'limited capability for work' and their ESA will continue. If the DWP decides that an individual has limited capability for work, he / she will be placed in one of two groups: work-related activity group or support group. Individuals placed under the 'work-related activity group' will carry out activities (such as attending work-focused interviews at the Jobcentre) to get ready for returning to work. On the other hand, individuals in the support group do not have to carry out any activities

Eligibility to claim ESA (Employment and Support Allowance)

You can claim ESA if any of the followings apply to you:

  • Your Statutory Sick Pay has either ended, or you cannot avail it;
  • You are self-employed or unemployed;
  • You have been getting SMP and have not gone back to work for your employer due to an illness or disability which affects your ability to work;
  • You are under State Pension age.

Also, one of the following conditions must be true to be eligible for ESA

  • You have had an illness or disability which affects your ability to work for at least four days in a row (including weekends and national holidays)
  • You must be unable to go on work for two or more days out of seven consecutive days
  • You must be getting special medical treatment.

Important

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a new benefit to support those working on a low income or have no work. It's being rolled out across the UK in stages.

Those who are living in certain parts of the UK, need to claim Universal Credit instead of income-related ESA. In the rest of the UK, you can still make a new claim for income-related ESA.

Note: You are not eligible to claim income-related ESA if you claim Universal Credit or have savings of greater than £16,000.

Related Topics:

How is ESA paid?

Employment & Support Allowance is usually paid into a building society, Post Office, bank or into a National Savings account.

What are the ESA Rates?

ESA rates in UK are subject to change at any time and are determined by the Job Centre. If you want to find out the current rates, you can check the Gov.UK website or alternatively you can make a call to ESA Contact Number and ask about the current ESA rates. The allowance is paid weekly, and the financial or work-related support rates are currently as follows:

First 13 Weeks:
£57.90 per week if you're under 25.
£73.10 per week if you're 25 or over.
After 14 weeks if you're still entitled:
£102.15 per week if you're attending a work related activity group.
£109.30 per week if you're attending a support group.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) an individual will get

Income related ESA

Under an income-related ESA, the total an individual can receive will depend on the following mentioned:

  • Age of an individual
  • How much collective savings are above £6,000
  • If an individual has a mortgage
  • If an individual has Work Capability Assessment, if so, whether it is in the work-related activity group or the support group
  • The total income an individual has (including personal and partners income
  • Whether an individual lives alone or with a partner
  • Whether an individual is caring for someone
  • When does the claim begin

Contributory Employment and Support Allowance

The amount of contributory Employment and Support Allowance(C-ESA) an individual can get depends on:

  • Age of an individual
  • If an individual has Work Capability Assessment, if so, whether it is in the work-related activity group or the support group
  • When did the claim start

Before the Work Capability Assessment, the amount an individual can get as a personal allowance is based on the age of a person:

  • Under 25: the amount an individual will receive is £57.90 per week
  • 25 and above: the amount an individual will receive is £73.10 per week

After the Work Capability Assessment, the amount an individual receives will depend on when the claim began and the category an individual falls in:

  • Work-related activity group and claim began prior to 3 April 2017: the amount an individual will receive is £102.15 per week
  • Support group, whenever the claim started: the amount an individual will receive is £109.65 per week
  • Work-related activity group and claim began post 3 April 2017: the amount an individual will receive is £73.10 per week

How to Claim ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) – ESA Contact Numbers

An individual is required to give their national insurance (NI) number to complete the claim process. If an individual does not have a national insurance (NI) number, the claim can be sent from anyway to avoid delays. Additional details as proof of identity (birth certificate, driving license or passport) may be required

In England, Scotland or Wales In Northern Ireland
Telephone: 0800 055 6688 0800 085 6318
Telephone: 0800 023 4888 0800 328 3419
Welsh language line 0800 012 1888
Opening Hours Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Download a claim form https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance/how-to-claim https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/employment-and-support-allowance#toc-3

'New Style' ESA Contact Numbers – 0345 ESA Helpline Numbers

If you're in a 'live service area' for Universal Credit If you're in a 'full service area'
Telephone: 0345 600 0723 0345 600 4272
Telephone: 0345 600 0743 0345 600 0743
Opening Hours Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Individual can also get in touch with DNS Accountants to help them with Employment and support allowance (ESA)

ESA Contact Number: 0843 515 8650

Benefit Department ESA Phone Number Opening Hours
Customer Service Enquiries 0843 515 8650 Monday to Friday 08:00 - 20:00
Claims 0843 515 8650 Monday to Friday 08:00 - 20:00
Local Rate Calls 0345 608 8545 Monday to Friday 08:00 - 20:00
Welsh Language 0345 600 3018 Monday to Friday 08:00 - 20:00
Job Centre Plus 0345 608 8545 Monday to Friday 08:00 - 20:00
Universal Credit 0345 600 0723 Monday to Friday 08:00 - 20:00

Dispute an ESA Decision – 0345 608 8545 & 0300 123 1142

You can challenge most of the decisions made by DWP about your ESA. These decisions could be related to:

  • Not getting ESA
  • Being put in the work-related activity group and not the support group
  • Getting a sanction

There is a two steps process in order to challenging an ESA decision.

  1. You should contact DWP and ask them to consider their decision for review. This is called 'mandatory reconsideration'.
  2. If you still disagree or find a dispute after the mandatory reconsideration, then you can appeal to an independent tribunal regarding dispute.

ESA Complaint Number: 0345 608 8545

If you feel you haven't treated fairly or if there is unreasonable delay in your payments, you can make a complaint about the same to ESA complaint number 0345 608 8545. In case you're using a textphone, dial 0345 600 318.

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