Employment and Support Allowance
If you ability to work is limited by disability or ill health you may be able to claim a benefit called Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). ESA can be income-related and is means-tested or it can be contributory ESA where National Insurance contributions are taken into account. Your eligibility for ESA is tested under a Work Capability Assessment (WCA). This determines whether you have limited capability for work and or work related activity.
To start claiming ESA you must first contact Jobcentre Plus. They will ask you some basic questions and you may be asked to send further information. All claimants for ESA have to undergo a 13 week assessment phase.
ESA has replaced Incapacity Benefit (IB) and Income Support (paid on the grounds of incapacity) and also Severe Disablement Allowance. If you are already getting these benefits at some point you will be asked to take part in a WCA. You will receive a letter and a telephone call from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) explaining why this is happening and what to expect.
The following gives a brief overview of the process of moving from incapacity benefit to employment support allowance:
- To qualify for ESA the DWP have to decide that you have limited capacity for work.
- DWP do this by asking you to complete a Work capability Assessment (WCA).
- You will be sent an ESA50 questionnaire form which asks you questions about your ability to manage everyday tasks.
- It is important to fill this as accurately and honestly as you can: an advice agency can help you with this or the Trust’s Volunteer Visitors can provide advice and support.
- You are likely to be asked to attend a medical with a doctor or nurse contracted by the DWP e.g. .ATOS Healthcare
- If the DWP decide you don’t have limited capability for work you cannot continue to get ESA.
- It is possible to appeal this decision but you only have 1 month to do so.
- If you do have limited capability for work you could be placed into the support group or the work related activity group.
- If you are placed in the support group ESA will be paid as long as you qualify and you don’t have to take place in any further interviews or assessments until your claim is up for renewal. You are not expected to work or look for work.
- If you are placed in the work related activity group (WRAG) you will have to take part in a series of work focussed interviews which will explore options for getting you back into work.
- You will remain in the WRAG for 12 months if you are receiving Contribution based ESA.
Applying for ESA
You can phone the Jobcentre Plus Claim line on 0800 055 6688 or textphone 0800 023 4888 or claim through the DWP website.
A paper claim form –ESA1 is also available from Jobcentre Plus offices.