Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a benefit that is available to those whose disability or health condition such as multiple sclerosis (MS) limits their capability to work. There are three types of ESA with only one of these open to new claimants, these are
To qualify for ESA, you must satisfy set eligibility criteria. Fundamentally your capability to work must be limited, however, additional conditions apply such as having paid enough NI contributions over the previous two to three years and not currently receiving Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). You can usually apply for ESA if your SSP is due to end shortly. Find out more about ESA eligibility here.
‘New style’ ESA claims are made initially via an online process. Residents of the UK, excluding Northern Ireland, can initiate their claim on the UK Government’s website whilst those residing in Northern Ireland should start their claim on the NI Direct website. Part of the claims process may include a Work Capability Assessment, which is designed to gauge to what extent your illness or disability affects your capability to work.
Given that it can take several weeks for your claim to be assessed in full you should receive payments based on an ‘assessment rate’ until a decision is made.
Once the assessment has been completed, how much you will receive if you qualify for ESA depends upon which ‘group’ you have been assigned to. These are
You can find the current rates for all ESA payments by clicking here.
For people living in the UK, excluding Northern Ireland, you can find out more about ESA via the UK government’s website www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance.
For people residing in Northern Ireland, NI Direct provide its online information hub www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/employment-and-support-allowance.