You can get financial support and work-related support through Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
You’ll normally get the assessment rate for 13 weeks after your claim. This will be:
- up to £57.90 a week if you’re aged under 25
- up to £73.10 a week if you’re aged 25 or over
After that, if you’re entitled to ESA, you’ll be placed in one of 2 groups and will receive:
- up to £102.15 a week if you’re in the work-related activity group
- up to £109.30 a week if you’re in the support group
If you’re in the support group and on income-related ESA, you’re also entitled to the enhanced disability premium at £15.75 a week.
You may also qualify for the severe disability premium at £61.85 per week.
If the assessment takes longer than 13 weeks your benefit will be backdated to the 14th week of the claim.
Types of ESA
The 2 types of ESA are:
- 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)
- 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 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 to 3 full tax years
- 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.
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.
Following your Work Capability Assessment you’ll be placed in either the work-related activity group or support group if you’re entitled to ESA.
Work-related activity group
You must go to regular interviews with an adviser who can help with things like job goals and improving your skills.
You don’t have to go to interviews, but you can ask to talk to a personal adviser. You’re usually in this group if your illness or disability severely limits what you can do.
Your ESA can be reduced if you don’t go to interviews or do work-related activity as agreed with your adviser. This reduction can continue for up to 4 weeks after you restart the interviews or activity.
You’ll get a ‘sanction letter’. Tell your ESA adviser if you have a good reason for missing the interview.
You’ll get another letter if the decision is made to give you a sanction. Your benefit will only be affected once a decision has been made.
You should contact your local council immediately if you claim Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction. They’ll tell you what to do to continue getting support.
If you get a sanction you can:
- ask for the decision to be looked at again
- ask for a ‘hardship payment’
You may be able to get a hardship payment if your income-related ESA has been reduced because of a sanction or fraud penalty. You don’t have to pay it back.
A hardship payment is a reduced amount of your ESA (usually 60%).
You can get a hardship payment if you can’t pay for rent, heating, food or other basic needs for you or your child.
You must be 18 or over.
How to claim
Speak to your Jobcentre Plus adviser or work coach to find out how to claim a hardship payment.
Telephone: 0345 608 8545
Textphone: 0345 608 8551
Welsh language 0345 600 3018
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Find out about call charges
How you’re paid
All benefits, pensions and allowances are paid into your bank, building society or credit union account.
If your payment is due on a bank holiday, you’ll be paid on the last working day before the holiday.
The benefit cap limits the amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can get. Some individual benefits aren’t affected, but it may affect the total amount of benefit you get. The cap won’t affect you if you’re in the support group.