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Moving from Incapacity Benefit to Employment Support Allowance

    • Employment Support Allowance
    • Employment Support Allowance
    • Employment Support Allowance

Employment Support Allowance (ESA) is paid to people whose ability to work is limited by disability or ill health. To qualify for ESA you have to be assessed under a work capability assessment. To make a claim you must be aged 16 or over and be under state pension age. You must also meet the residence and presence conditions.

Supporting information from Shine:

ESA has two elements: contributory ESA and income-related ESA. You may receive either of these elements or both, depending on your circumstances.

Contributory ESA is linked to your national insurance contribution record. To be entitled, you must have paid national insurance contributions, over a certain number of years. Some awards are limited to twelve months.

Income-related ESA is the means tested element of ESA. It provides for your basic living expenses (and those of your partner if you have one). It can be paid on its own or as a top up to contributory ESA. Income-related ESA may help with mortgage interest payments, and some other housing costs. You cannot get income-related ESA if you (and your partner) have capital and savings over £16,000.

If you live in an area where universal credit has been introduced, and are eligible to claim it, you will not be able to make a new claim for income-related ESA, you will have to claim universal credit instead.

The benefit cap – ESA is included in the list of benefits to which the weekly benefit cap applies. This cap, which limits the total weekly benefit that can be claimed, will not apply if you have been placed in the ESA support group. The benefit cap under universal credit does not apply if you, or a child you are claiming for receives DLA or PIP.

Everyone in receipt of incapacity benefit, severe disablement allowance and income support paid on the grounds of incapacity will, at some point, be asked to take part in the work capability assessment. If you are found to have a limited capability for work in this reassessment, you will be moved onto ESA. If you are found not to have a limited capability for work, and are therefore not entitled to ESA, you will receive a telephone call asking you if you want to claim jobseeker’s allowance.

Please note that if you are aged 16-19 and your parents are claiming child benefit and tax credits for you, take advice before claiming ESA, as your overall family income may decrease.

Full time students can only get income-related ESA if they are  also getting DLA or PIP. Students can make a claim for contributory ESA if they have paid enough national insurance contributions. Disabled students can obtain more information by contacting the Disabled Students Helpline: 0800 328 5050 or email .

This information provides a brief overview of employment and support allowance, to find out more please see www.disabilityrightsuk.org/employment-and-support-allowance-overview

Shine has developed information sheets to help you to understand ESA and to assist you to fill in the ESA 50 questionnaire.

Disclaimer: We do our best to ensure that the above information is correct, however changes in the law after November 2014 might affect the accuracy of some of the information. You should always check details regarding your welfare rights with a local advice centre or the Department for Works and Pensions.

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