Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

3. Types of ESA

There are 3 types of ESA:

  • contribution-based ESA - usually you get this if you’ve paid enough National Insurance contributions (National Insurance credits can count for part of this, if you get them)
  • ‘new style’ ESA if you’re entitled to claim Universal Credit
  • income-related ESA - usually you get this on its own or on top of contribution-based ESA, if you’re on a low income

Contribution-based ESA

Contribution-based ESA lasts one year if you’re in the work-related activity group. You may be able to re-apply at least 12 weeks after your contribution-based ESA ends. You may qualify again depending on:

  • National Insurance contributions you paid in the last 2 full tax years before the tax year you’re claiming in
  • whether your health deteriorates and you’re placed in the support group

There’s no time limit on how long you can claim contribution-based ESA if you’re in the support group.

‘New style’ ESA

You can apply if you live in a Universal Credit full service area.

If you live anywhere else, you can only apply if one of the following is true:

  • you are already claiming Universal Credit 

  • you claimed Universal Credit in the past 6 months and your payments ended because of your earnings

New style ESA works in the same way as contribution-based ESA. Your partner’s income and savings won’t affect how much new style ESA you’re paid.

You can get new style ESA on its own or at the same time as Universal Credit.

If you get both at the same time your new style ESA payment will be deducted from your Universal Credit payment - you aren’t guaranteed to get any extra money.

You may qualify for income-related ESA if you no longer qualify for contribution-based ESA.

How much you get depends on your circumstances. There’s no time limit on income-related ESA.

You can’t get income-related ESA and Universal Credit at the same time.