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Employment Support Allowance: Who can claim?

Employment Support Allowance

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If you find yourself in the position where you can’t work due to sickness or disability and you aren’t receiving Job Seekers Allowance, Statutory Sick or Maternity Pay; or you can work but it your illness or disability limits your employment abilities, then you may be entitled to Employment Support Allowance.

What is Employment Support Allowance?

Employment Support Allowance (ESA) is split into two categories; contributory ESA and Income based ESA. Contributory ESA is paid to those who have paid enough national insurance contributions or to those who are claiming Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) converts that into Contributory ESA. In some cases, you can only claim contributory ESA for up to 1 year.  Income based ESA can be claimed to top up your income if it falls below the governments standard amount it feels you should be able to live on, depending on your circumstances. It can help you with rent or mortgage payments and those qualifying for income based ESA will automatically qualify for the maximum amount of Housing Benefit allowed for your circumstances. Unlike contributory ESA, there is no time limit for which you can claim meaning you may be entitled to claim up until pension age.

How do you claim?

To claim Employment Support Allowance, you should contact firstly Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688, textphone 0800 023 4888 or 0800 328 2419 for those with hearing or speech problems. They will then send you a statement about your claim and within the first 13 weeks, you will have to send in medical certificates to the DWP and then undergo two assessments; The limited capability for work assessment and the limited capability for work-related activity assessment.

Medical assessment

The first will mean that the majority of people will have a medical assessment with a health professional for them to assess whether you have limited capability to work. It will look at physical and mental health issues and assess your ability to carry out certain activities. The second assessment is slightly different and is done to decide how much you would be entitled to and plan further activities and support to help you work. Both are marked on a points system and if you score more the 15 points in each assessment, you will be considered to have a limited capability to work and placed in either the support group, for those with a severe disability or a work related activity group.

Employment Support benefits

If you are advised you are entitled to contributory EAS then you will receive a basic allowance for the first 13 weeks, after which you will receive either the support or work related component. If you receive the work related component, you can only claim this for 365 days, but the support payment does not have any time limits. If you are already claiming Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance, this made be converted into contributory ESA depending on your circumstances.

If you are entitled to Income Based ESA, then you will be paid a basic allowance depending on your circumstances. You and your partners income and personal situation will be taken into account to work out your entitlement, but certain income such as child support maintenance, will not be counted. As well as the basic rate, if you have additional special circumstances, such as being a carer or are severly disable, you may qualify for extra help. Anyone with savings over £16,000 will not be entitled to Employment Support Allowance. Like with contributory ESA, you may have other benefits such as Income Support on disability grounds, converted into Income Based ESA.

You can appeal if your claim is rejected

If for any reason your claim for ESA has been rejected, you can appeal against the decision within 1 month. You may want to get further information as to why your case was rejected and see if you are entitled to some other form of benefit instead such as Job Seekers Allowance. You can also ask for your case to be looked at again or provide further evidence to support your claim. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has further advice and information on what to do if your claim is turned down and the Citizens Advice Bureaux will also be able to offer information to help support you.

How will the benefit be paid?

If you are entitled to claim ESA, it will be paid directly into your bank, building society or post office account and you can ask for your claim to be backdated up to 3 months if you were entitled to it in the previous months. If your circumstances change, you should inform the DWP as soon as possible so they can assess your situation. Understanding the many rules and regulations around Employment Support Allowance can be extremely confusing, so you may want to talk with an advisor as the Citizens Advice Bureau or your local benefits office to guide you through the process.





About Rebecca Robinson

About Rebecca Robinson

After spending the last 8 years juggling life as a mum of two, wife and working full time as a Project Manager for a global telecommunications company, Rebecca Robinson made the decision to follow her love of writing and took the plunge; turning her passion into a full time career. Since becoming a full time writer, Rebecca has worked with various media and copy-writing companies and with the ability to make any topic relevant and interesting to the reader, now contributes to The Working Parent on articles ranging from credit cards to teenage relationships. Ever the optimist, Rebecca's dreams for the future include a house in the country filled with children, dogs and horses in the field!

Website: Rebecca Robinson

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