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 £57.35 a week if you’re aged under 25
- up to £72.40 a week if you’re aged 25 or over
After that, if you’re entitled to ESA, you’ll be placed in 1 of 2 groups and will receive:
- up to £101.15 a week if you’re in the work-related activity group
- up to £108.15 a week if you’re in the support group
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 got enough National Insurance contributions
- 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 1 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 different 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. The reduction can continue for up to 4 weeks.
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.
If you get a sanction you:
- can ask for the decision to be looked at again
- can also ask for a ‘hardship payment’ - contact Jobcentre Plus
How you’re paid
All benefits, pensions and allowances are paid into an account, eg your bank 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.