Employment Support Allowance

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a benefit for people under retirement age who can’t work because of illness or disability.

There are two types:

  • contribution-based ESA – if you have paid enough National Insurance
  • income-related ESA – if your income and savings are low (it is gradually being replaced by Universal Credit).

If you meet the medical requirements for ESA, you will be paid the basic rate for 13 weeks. This is £73.10 a week for a single person aged 25 or over. During this time, you may need a work capability assessment to see how your illness limits your ability to work. The assessment is also to see which group you need to be in.

After 13 weeks, you will be placed in either the:

  • support group – if your illness or disability has a severe effect on your ability to work (you will be paid an extra £36.55 a week)
  • work-related activity group – if you could do some work-related activity (you will keep getting the basic rate and will have to attend some work-focused interviews).

You should be placed in the support group from the start of your claim and may not need an assessment if:

  • you are waiting for, having, or recovering from chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
  • you are terminally ill, and you may be expected to live for less than six months.

You can claim ESA by calling 0800 055 6688 or using textphone 0800 023 4888 if you live in England, Scotland or Wales. You can also find more information on gov.uk/employment-support-allowance.


Support with applying for ESA

A free App called C-App has been developed to help you apply for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

The website allows you to:

  • understand what the benefits are and how to apply
  • understand the forms and the assessment processes
  • know how to answer the questions in your assessment
  • know more about your rights
  • plus you can practice, at your own pace, the sort of questions you'll be asked.

This can help you:

  • be more confident about the forms and ready for your assessment
  • get clear about what you need to mention in your assessment
  • get an idea of whether you'll qualify for benefit, and at what level, when you do the assessment for real.