Types of ESA

There are 3 types of ESA:

  • ‘new style’ ESA if you’re entitled to claim Universal Credit
  • contributory 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)
  • income-related ESA - usually you get this on its own or on top of contributory ESA, if you’re on a low income

‘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 contributory 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.

Contributory ESA

You may be able to claim contributory ESA if:

  • you’re not in a Universal Credit full service area
  • you’ve paid enough National Insurance contributions (National Insurance credits can count for part of this, if you get them)

You may qualify for income-related ESA if you’ve not paid enough National Insurance contributions.

How much you get depends on your circumstances.

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

How long you’ll get ESA for

New style and contributory ESA last for 365 days if you’re in the work-related activity group.

There’s no time limit if you’re in the support group, or if you’re getting income-related ESA.

Reapplying for ESA

You may be able to re-apply at least 12 weeks after your new style or contributory 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