Employment and Support Allowance

What is it?

Employment and Support Allowance is a new benefit that replaces Incapacity Benefit and Income Support paid on incapacity grounds for new claimants.

You may be able to get Employment and Support Allowance if you have an illness or disability that affects your ability to work. If you are an employee you may be able to get Statutory Sick Pay as an alternative to Employment and Support Allowance, at least when you are first off work.

There are 2 types of Employment and Support Allowance: contribution-based and income-based.
  • Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance is paid if you paid enough National Insurance contributions when you were working. You can get it even if your partner works or if you have saving. Contributory ESA entitlement will be limited to one year from the time entitlement began for those in the work related activity group.
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance is payable if you have not paid enough National Insurance contributions. Income-related Employment and Support Allowance has no time limit and can be claimed for as long as you meet the qualifying criteria. It can also top-up contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance.

Can I get it?

When you first make a claim for Employment and Support Allowance all you need to show is a medical certificate. However, after the 'assessment phase' of 13 weeks Employment and Support Allowance is only payable if you meet the 'Work Capability Assessment' rules.

A person who is assessed or treated as having limited capability for work will move on to ‘main phase’ ESA after 13 weeks of their claim. They will get an extra component paid on top of their ESA. The amount of the extra component depends on whether you are classified as being in the ‘work related activity group’ or the ‘support’ group. Which group you are assigned to depends on the result of your Work Capability Assessment.

For more details see ESA phase or ESA component.

Your eligibility for contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance depends on if you paid enough National Insurance contributions when you were working. Your eligibility for income-related Employment and Support Allowance depends on your income and capital.

How much will I get?

2013/14 Weekly rate during the assessment phase
The assessment phase rate is paid for the first 13 weeks of your claim while a decision is made on your capability for work through the Work Capability Assessment.

A single person aged under 25 - £56.80
A single person aged 25 and over - £71.70 (for both contributory ESA and income-related ESA)
A couple aged 18 and over - £112.55 (income-related ESA only).

Main phase, Work Related Activity Group
A single person aged 16 and over - £100.15 (for both contributory ESA and income-related ESA)
A couple aged 16 and over - £141.00 (income-related ESA only).

Contributory ESA entitlement is time limited to one year for those in the work related activity group.

Main phase, Support Group
Per claimant aged 16 and over - £106.50 (contributory ESA only)
A single person aged 16 and over - £121.65 (income-related ESA only)
A couple aged 18 and over - £169.10 (income-related ESA only).

How do I claim?

You can make a claim for Employment and Support Allowance by phoning 0800 055 6688 (or 0800 023 4888 if you have a speech or hearing impairment). More details on how the process for claiming and assessing Employment and Support Allowance are available on the DWP website.