It can be difficult to work if you're ill or have a disability and you might struggle to keep up with your bills each month if you’re not earning.
This is where Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) can help you out. You can apply for ESA if you're ill or disabled. The amount you'll get depends on your condition and your circumstances – to help you understand this, we're taking you through what you could be claim.
How does it work?
There are two types of ESA: contribution-based and income-related. You might be able to get one or both types depending on your circumstances. In general, you can't be in full-time work and claim ESA but you may be able to do some work while still qualifying for this benefit.
Find out more about each type of ESA below.
Contributory ESA: you can get this type of ESA if you have paid enough National Insurance contributions. For example, if you've been working regularly before you were unable to work.
Income-related ESA: you can get this type of ESA if your income and savings are low enough. You can get income-related ESA on its own or on top of contribution-based ESA.
In most cases, when you claim for ESA, you'll need to do a Work Capability Assessment. This is to find out whether you can claim this type of benefit and whether there's a chance you'll be able to work. It's important to be honest in this assessment about the details of your disability or illness.
After your assessment, the Government will place you in one of two groups, Work-Related Activity Group or Support Group. If you fall into the Work-Related Activity Group, you'll have to attend regular meetings with an adviser about finding suitable work and could lose your benefits if you miss these meetings.
But if the Government place you in the Support Group, they accept that you're unable to work and will not ask you to attend interviews.
How much ESA will you get?
You'll get £57.90 a week if you're under the age of 25, and up to £73.10 a week if you're 25 or older, while you're waiting for the assessment to complete.
After this point, the amount that you'll receive will depend on your group. You can get up to £102.15 a week if you're in the work-related activity group, and £109.30 a week if you're in the support group.
You can get the enhanced disability premium of £15.75 a week if you're in the support group and on income-related ESA. You might also qualify for the severe disability premium at £61.85 per week. The Government will pay your ESA directly into your account, usually every two weeks.
If the initial assessment takes longer than 13 weeks, your benefit will backdate to the 14th week of the claim.
How can I claim?
You can claim ESA by phone. The number you call depends on the type of ESA you're applying for. You'll need information such as your National Insurance Number, medical certification and bank account details when you claim. You can find out more about claiming ESA on the gov.uk website.
If you don't agree with a decision made about ESA, you can appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal.
Unable to claim ESA? Find out what benefits you could claim if you work less than 16 hours a week.