Employment and Support Allowance in the UK
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a social benefit that helps ill or disabled workers to finance their cost of living. However, for those workers who have the possibility to return to work in near future, the scheme has additional provision for personalised assistance.
Regular employees, self-employed persons, students as well as unemployed citizens are all covered under this support program. A transition to ESA from other social benefits is also possible.
However, your application for ESA benefit claim is accepted and processed only when you submit a Work Capability Assessment report. If the report finds you enough capable of working, your application is going to be cancelled. You’ll be then accommodated in a support group or in an activity group.
What are the different types of ESA?
- Contribution-based ESA is a support allowance for those who have already made sizeable National Insurance contributions.
- Income-based ESA, on the other hand, is independent of the contribution, if any, that you have made. It is added to your contribution-based ESA if your income is below a certain level.
- New Style ESA. This ESA is for single persons living in Scotland, Wales and England. Families too can claim this ESA if they are located anywhere in the Universal Credit area.
Workers Applying for ESA
- Your age is under state pension age. That means, you must not be born before 6th April 1953 (for female applicants) or 6th April 1951 (for male applicants).
- You are not receiving social benefits like jobseekers’ allowance.
- You are not enjoying on-the-job benefits like Statutory Maternity Pay and Statutory Sick Pay.
- You are not under immigration control and your visa doesn’t say No Recourse to Public Funds. If your visa doesn’t permit you but you still want to apply for ESA benefit claim, first talk to your nearest local Citizens Advice.
- Students can also apply for ESA claim if they are currently on Personal Independence Payment or Disability Living Allowance.
- English or Irish citizens who are living and working abroad are also entitled to the benefits subject to certain restrictions.
Use this Benefits Calculator to further check your eligibility.
What are the ESA benefit rates?
When you apply for Employment and Support Allowance, you don’t know how much you are going to get or whether you are getting it at all. ESA benefit rates vary from one beneficiary to another. Many factors are taken into consideration like age, financial condition, the degree of disability or illness etc.
- Maximum £57.90 weekly if your age is below 25 years.
- Maximum £73.10 weekly if your age is 25 years or more.
Only after 13 such weeks, the real ESA benefit rates apply. Depending on the group in which you’re included, you’re going to get either:
- Maximum £109.30 weekly (Support Group) or
- Maximum £102.15 weekly (Activity Group)
An extra weekly premium of £15.75 is paid to people who are in the support group and are getting income-related benefits. For complex disabilities, the rate is £61.85 weekly. In the case of extreme financial hardships, there is also the provision of hardship payment.
For receiving the benefits, provide either your bank account number, your credit union number or your building society account number. The payment is going to come twice a month.
However, don’t take these payments as granted. Your ESA benefit rates can be significantly reduced if you don’t adhere to the agreed terms. In case this happens to you, immediately get in touch with your local council for advice.
How to apply for Employment and Support Allowance?
There are, in fact, two very easy processes to apply for ESA benefit claim. One is by calling the concerned authority and the other is by filling the appropriate form. It is eventually not possible to apply for ESA online. If you are filling up the form you must submit it manually to the concerned authority.
Apply for ESA by Phone
This is the easiest and quickest option to get your ESA benefit claim reviewed. However, depending on the type of ESA you are applying, you have to choose the relevant contact details.
- For income-related and contribution-based ESA, use the ESA free number 0800 055 6688.
- For the Welsh ESA free number, use 0800 012 1888.
- Those applying for new style ESA must choose from the two more alternative phone numbers, 0345 600 0723 and 0345 600 4272.
If your area is not included in these two categories and if you are living with your family, try applying for a different type of ESA. If you are single, seek guidance calling the live service number.
You can also call these numbers to ask for an application form in large print, audio cd or in Braille.
Apply for ESA Filling in the Form
This is the mandatory step to apply for Employment and Support Allowance. You find the ESA1 from on the website of Department of Work and Pension. You can download it, fill in the soft copy and then print it out. Alternatively, you can print it first and then fill it with a pen. In any case, you have to submit it to your nearest Jobcentre Plus Office.
In addition to this form, some people need to submit the ESA50 form, which is a questionnaire about applicant’s health condition or disability. In some cases, a medical certificate must also be submitted. You need to submit these documents only if Department for Work and Pensions asks you to do so.
Before starting to fill in the form, read the instructions carefully.
The form contains information on how to and where to send the application.It also includes a full guide on ESA benefits and eligibility criteria. Read this and start filling in the form.The subsequent pages ask for information on yourself and your partner and also on your disability or illness.
You must also give the specifics about your claim, about your past working life etc.Don’t forget to fill the relevant section if you are currently working and living in any other country.
If you’re an immigrant, please fill the required section.
The department also wants to know if you’re receiving any other type of special or job-related benefits.While deciding on your claim, the department is also going to review your educational background and skills, your residential and family conditions etc.Lastly, furnish details of your bank or any other money transaction account, so that the payouts reach you.
Other than submitting the form to the job centre, you can also post it directly to Department for Work and Pensions. However, the evaluation of the application is a lengthy process, sometimes taking even a year to complete.
Note: Those applying for both types of ESA benefits, must fill in both the relevant sections of the form for him/herself and also for the partner.
After starting to receive ESA benefit claim, if you, at any point of time, relocate to Northern Ireland, make sure you inform the ESA centre. They are going to change and update your location. If you fail to do this, your benefits are going to be stopped.
Apply for ESA in Northern Ireland
Are you currently in Northern Ireland? Find out the procedure to apply for ESA claim in Northern Ireland.
The procedure is pretty similar to that in the UK. You can either call the ESA center or send them a text message. Alternatively, fill the ESA form and send it to the following address:
Mail Opening Unit
PO Box 42
For telephone or text message, the relevant numbers are:
Telephone: 0800 085 6318
Text phone: 0800 328 3419
General enquiry: 0845 602 7301 and 0300 123 3012
ESA benefit rates and everything else regarding the application procedure remain same also in Northern Ireland.
What documents are needed to apply for ESA claim?
To apply for ESA claim, you must have the following information and copies of documents ready to submit:
- Your mobile number and your home contact number
- Address of the GP and also its phone number
- Your unique National Insurance number
- Your bank details
- Information on any other financial benefit that you are receiving
- Medical certificate describing and proving your illness or disability
- Your employer’s address and contact number along with the first and last date of employment
- Mortgage or rent details, if any and
- Council tax bill
What to do if the application is declined?
You can request the Department for Work and Pensions to reconsider your application. However, you must do this within a month from receiving the first cancellation letter. If such reconsideration doesn’t bring about favourable results, you can make an appeal to The Social Security and Child Support Tribunal.