Terrence Higgins Trust uses cookies to improve your experience of our websites. For more information or to change the use of cookies, please click here.

Accept and Close

Employment and Support Allowance

your healthcare

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a benefit for people with limited capability for work because of ill health and/or disability.

There are two types of ESA:

  1. Contributory ESA depends on your National Insurance contributions and is not means-tested.
  2. Income-related ESA is means-tested and does not depend on National Insurance contributions.

You may be entitled to one or both, depending on your circumstances. For example, a claimant whose contributory ESA and other income are less than their applicable amount for income-related ESA will be entitled to a top-up of income-related ESA.


Applicable Amount

Everyone has a maximum amount of weekly income they can receive before their income starts to affect their benefits.

This figure is called your ‘applicable amount’, and is compared against your income and capital to work out how much benefit you should receive.


Who can get ESA (Employment and Support Allowance)?

You may be entitled to ESA if you:

  • Have a limited capability for work, determined by the Work Capability Assessment.
  • Have not yet reached state pension age.
  • Are in Great Britain or Northern Ireland (although in some cases entitlement can continue during a temporary absence).
  • Are not receiving Income Support. If your partner is receiving Income Support, this would stop your entitlement to income-related ESA. However, the condition regarding Income Support does not apply if the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is considering converting your Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA) or Income Support into ESA. It can therefore convert their benefit into ESA without you meeting this condition.
  • Are not receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). If your partner is receiving income-based JSA, this would prevent you from being entitled to income-related ESA.
  • Are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (although if you are entitled to contractual sick pay this does not affect your entitlement to contributory ESA).
  • If you satisfy National Insurance conditions for contributory ESA (but see next paragraph if their limited capability for work began in youth and they claimed ESA before 1 May 2012) and/or a means test and certain other conditions for income-related ESA. If you meet both sets of conditions, you can get contributory ESA topped up with income-related ESA.

However, the National Insurance contribution conditions for contributory ESA do not apply if the DWP is considering converting your Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA) or Income Support into ESA. The DWP can therefore convert a client's Incapacity Benefit or SDA into contributory ESA without them meeting these conditions.

If you meet all the conditions above you may be entitled to ESA.

If you claimed ESA before 1 May 2012 (later in Northern Ireland) and your limited capability for work began in youth (before the age of 20, or the age of 25 if in full-time education), you may be entitled to contributory ESA by meeting an alternative to the normal contribution conditions.

You may also be entitled to income-related ESA depending on your individual circumstances.

However, the conditions of entitlement for a claimant whose limited capability for work began in youth did not apply if the DWP was considering converting a client's incapacity benefit, severe disablement allowance (SDA) or income support into ESA. The DWP could therefore convert your incapacity benefit or SDA into contributory ESA without you meeting these conditions.


What happens to my ESA if I move abroad for a while?

You must usually be in Great Britain or Northern Ireland to be entitled to ESA.

However, you can continue to receive it if you are temporarily absent from Great Britain or Northern Ireland.


Contact our advisers for more detail on this as there are various conditions that apply:

 

Rate:

Empty Star Empty Star Empty Star Empty Star Empty Star (No votes cast) Please log in or register to vote. What's this?

Save:

Please log in or register to add this article to My favourites. What's this? Adding an article to My favourites will allow you to easily come back to it later or print it.


Your comments

You will need to be logged in before you can leave a comment.

Please log in using the form on the top right of the page or register.

The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 30/7/2015 by Anna Peters

Date due for the next review: 30/7/2018