Employment and Support Allowance

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) provides financial support if you have a disability or health condition that stops you working or limits how much you can work and you don’t qualify for Statutory Sick Pay. If you’re sick, self-isolating or shielding due to coronavirus – or are caring for a child who is affected – you can also apply.

Types of Employment and Support Allowance

The main types of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) are:

  • New Style ESA
  • income-related ESA (now replaced by Universal Credit)

New Style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

You might be able to claim New Style ESA if you can’t work or can only do limited hours because of:

  • sickness or disability
  • your Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) has run out, or
  • you’re self-employed and don’t qualify for SSP.

If you’re sick, or self-isolating or shielding due to coronavirus, and can’t claim SSP – you can also apply.

You can also apply if you’re caring for a child who falls into one of these groups.

Eligibility

To qualify, you need to have been paying or credited with National Insurance contributions for the past two to three years.

This means that for the 2021/22 tax year, you need to have been earning at least £120 a week, £520 a month or £6,240 a year for the last two full tax years.

You can’t claim it if you already receive the Severe Disability Premium – but you might be able to claim income-related ESA.

How much New Style ESA do you get?

If you qualify for New Style ESA, you’ll be put into one of two groups after an initial assessment called the Work Capability Assessment:

  • The ‘work-related activity group’ is if you expect to return to work – in this case you’ll typically receive £74.70 a week, or £59.20 if you’re under age 25. It’s paid for up to one year.
  • The ‘support group’ is if your illness or disability means you can’t return to work – in this case you’ll get £114.70 a week. There’s no time limit.

The above amounts are for the 2021/22 tax year and are taxable.

How getting New Style ESA affects your Universal Credit payment

If your household income is low enough and you need extra support with housing costs or bringing up children, you might be able to claim Universal Credit alongside New Style ESA.

If you qualify for ESA, any amount of Universal Credit you get will reduce by the same amount.

The benefit of applying for New Style ESA alongside Universal Credit if you qualify for both is that you’ll get Class 1 National Insurance credits while receiving New Style ESA.

This applies whether you’re employed or self-employed. These credits will count towards your future State Pension entitlement – and your entitlement to certain other contribution-based benefits, such as statutory redundancy, maternity or paternity pay.

This is a benefit that’s being replaced with Universal Credit. Most people can no longer make a new claim for it.

If you already get Severe Disability Premium and are making a new claim for means-tested sickness and disability benefits, you’ll now have to claim Universal Credit. Your Severe Disability Premium payment will stop and you’ll get a top-up payment in your Universal Credit instead.

If you’re already getting income-related ESA, you’ll stay on it until something happens in your life (a change of circumstances) means you have to claim Universal Credit.

Severe Disability Premium if you’re getting ESA

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Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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