Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

3. Types of ESA

The 2 types of ESA are:

  • contribution-based ESA (known as ‘new style’ ESA if you’re entitled to claim Universal Credit) - 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)
  • 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 for ‘new style’ ESA if you’re entitled to apply for Universal Credit. You’re entitled if you’re either:

  • a single person anywhere in England, Wales and Scotland
  • a couple or family living in a Universal Credit area

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.