You may get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if your illness or disability affects your ability to work and you’re:
- under State Pension age
- not getting Statutory Sick Pay or Statutory Maternity Pay and you haven’t gone back to work
- not getting Jobseeker’s Allowance
You can apply for ESA if you’re employed, self-employed, unemployed or a student on Disability Living Allowance.
You may get ESA if you’ve lived or work abroad and paid enough National Insurance (UK or equivalent).
Use the benefits adviser to check your eligibility.
Working and claiming ESA
Usually your ESA isn’t affected if you:
- work and earn up to £20 a week
- work and earn up to £99.50 a week doing work supervised by someone from a local council or voluntary organisation
- work less than 16 hours a week, earn up to £99.50 a week for up to 52 weeks
This is called ‘permitted work’.
You can also do ‘supported permitted work’ for less than 16 hours a week and earn up to £99.50 a week if your illness or disability very severely limits your ability to work.
Supported permitted work is supervised by someone from a local council or a voluntary organisation whose job it is to arrange work for disabled people.
You must tell the Department of Work and Pension (DWP) if you start doing permitted work. They will send you form PW1 to fill in and send back to them.
Any volunteer work you do needs to be reported and can affect your ESA.
Tell the Jobcentre Plus office dealing with your claim if your circumstances change - this can affect your ESA (eg income changes, you go abroad).
Your income and savings
Your income may affect your income-related or contribution-based ESA. Income can include:
- you and your partner’s income
- savings over £6,000
- pension income
You won’t qualify for income-related ESA if you have savings over £16,000.
Work Capability Assessment
During the first 13 weeks of ESA you might also have to go to a Work Capability Assessment. This is to see if your illness or disability affects your ability to work, and can include a medical assessment.
You’ll get a letter explaining what to do. Your benefit may be stopped if you don’t go.
You may be able to get a recording of the assessment.
A new benefit called Universal Credit started to be introduced in some areas of the country from 29 April 2013. If you get Universal Credit, it might affect how much you get from other benefits.