What Is Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)?

I’m not sure what Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) is and whether I would be entitled to receive it?

Question asked by Judith Reynolds

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a payment you might be entitled to if you are unable to work because of a disability or long term health condition. The allowance is designed to help with living costs and, if possible, support you to get back to work. In most cases you will still be able to claim Income Protection and your ESA.

Am I Eligible to Apply for Employment and Support Allowance?

To be eligible for ESA applicants must:

  • Have a signed doctor’s note to support a claim
  • Be over the age of 16 but under the State Pension age
  • Live in the UK (although the application process for Northern Ireland differs from that in Great Britain)
  • Not be receiving any of the following: Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) or Income Support
  • Be employed, self employed, unemployed or a student.

What Are The Different Types?

There are three different types of ESA that you could apply for. Each type has certain criteria that you need to meet before making an application.

New Style ESA

You must:

  • Have made a certain number of National Insurance (NI) Contributions in the 2 full tax years before the year you are claiming for
  • Have worked as an employee or been self employed
  • Not be receiving Severe Disability Premium or Statutory Sick Pay.

The amount you receive might be affected by other income such as Health Insurance, pensions and other financial assistance schemes. 

Contribution-Based ESA

  • You must have paid a certain amount of NI to be eligible for this type of ESA
  • Can apply for this type of ESA even if receiving a Severe Disability Premium
  • Be classed as employed or self-employed.

Income-related ESA

  • You can apply for this type of ESA if you haven’t made enough NI contributions in the last 2-3 years 
  • It’s means tested, so the government takes your other savings and income into account
  • You must not have savings or investments worth more than £16,000
  • You can only apply for it if you are receiving Severe Disability Premium.

Can I Apply for ESA if I’ve Been Affected by Coronavirus?

Yes. If you’ve had to self-isolate or shield as a result of Covid-19 and can’t claim Statutory Sick Pay you can apply for ESA. However, you’ll need to prove this is a direct result of coronavirus. Proof of self-isolation include: 

  • Getting an ‘Isolation Note’ online from NHS 111 if you have been off work for 7 or more days
  • Providing a notification from the NHS or Public Health Authority stating that you have come into contact with someone who has the virus
  • Providing a letter confirming the date of a procedure at Hospital which has required you to self-isolate for. 

Proof for shielding include: 

  • A letter from a doctor or health authority confirming that you need to shield as a result of being classed as ‘high risk’, or confirming that you live in an area with local restrictions which include advice to shield. 

For more information on ESA and details on how to apply visit gov.co.uk. 

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