New style employment and support allowance

This overview explains the basic rules, rates of payment and how to claim 'new style' employment and support allowance (ESA) and links to related information on the work capability assessment.

You cannot now claim income-related ESA unless you are already getting contributory ESA. You must claim universal credit instead.

 

Contents

Who can get 'new style' ESA?

'New style' ESA contributory conditions

ESA support group and work-related activity group

How to claim 'new style' ESA

Fit notes

How much is 'new style' ESA?

Assessment phase (per week)

Main phase (per week)

Benefit cap

'New style' ESA in hospital

Find out more

 

Who can get 'new style' ESA?

You can get 'new style' ESA if your ability to work is limited by ill health or disability.

You must:

If you are a student (full time or part time), you can claim 'new style' ESA if you satisfy all of these rules.

BACK TO START

 

'New style' ESA contributory conditions

You need to have paid enough national insurance contributions in certain tax years to be entitled to 'new style' ESA - the tax years depend on your claim date and are worked out for you when you claim.

BACK TO START

 

ESA support group and work-related activity group

Support group - If it is decided at the work capability assessment that you have a limited capability for work-related activity, you will be put in the support group of claimants. If you are put in this group, you will not have to take part in work-related activities (although you can volunteer to do so if you want).

You will get a higher rate of ESA than claimants who are put in the work-related activity group. If you are getting 'new style' ESA, it can be paid indefinitely (as long as you continue to meet the qualifying rules and you remain in the support group).

Work-related activity group - If it is decided at the work capability assessment that you do not have a limited capability for work-related activity, you will be placed in the work-related activity group. In this group, you must meet work-related conditions. If you fail to meet the conditions, a sanction may be applied. 

You will get a lower rate of ESA than claimants who are put in the support group. If you are getting 'new style' ESA, the award of this will be limited to just 12 months.

BACK TO START

 

How to claim 'new style' ESA

You can claim 'new style' ESA online.

If you cannot apply online, you can call 0800 055 6688 (textphone: 0800 328 1344; Relay UK - if you cannot hear or speak on the phone: 18001 then 0800 055 6688). It can take several minutes to get through.

If you are deaf and use British Sign Language, you may be able to claim using a video relay service.

In Northern Ireland, you can claim 'new style' ESA  online. If you cannot apply online, you can call 0800 085 6318 (textphone: 0800 328 3419).

For anyone who cannot claim for themselves because of mental incapacity, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can appoint someone to act on their behalf. 

BACK TO START

 

Fit notes

For the first seven days of any period of limited capability for work, you do not need a medical certificate (the fit note). Once you have had a limited capability for work for more than seven days, you must normally provide the DWP with a fit note from your doctor.  

If you work for an employer and do not get statutory sick pay (or it is ending), you will also need to provide the DWP with form SSP1 (which you get from your employer) as well as a fit note from the first day of your claim.

BACK TO START

 

How much is 'new style' ESA?

'New style' ESA is a flat-rate benefit. It is not affected by any savings or other income you have, except for occupational or personal pensions. Unless you are put in the support group, payment of 'new style' ESA is limited to 12 months.

The rates given below apply from 8 April 2024.

For the first 13 weeks of your claim, the ‘assessment phase’, you are paid the basic allowance. This depends on your age:

Assessment phase (per week)

Aged under 25 years - £71.70

Aged 25 years and over - £90.50

Once you have undergone the work capability assessment and have been found to have a limited capability for work, you will move onto ‘main phase’ ESA. With this, you will get the basic allowance, plus a ‘support component’ if you are put in the support group

Main phase (per week)

Basic allowance - £90.50

Support component - £47.70

If you get an occupational or personal pension that pays more than £85 a week, your 'new style' ESA will be reduced by half of the amount over this limit.

BACK TO START

 

Benefit cap

'New style' ESA is included in the list of benefits to which the benefit cap applies. This cap limits the total weekly benefits that can be paid.

The cap will not apply if you have been placed in the support group

BACK TO START

 

'New style' ESA in hospital

'New style' ESA is paid for an indefinite period as long as the other qualifying conditions are met. 

ESA can continue to be paid during a temporary absence abroad for the purpose of receiving NHS hospital treatment.

BACK TO START

 

Find out more

Advice

Use advicelocal to get advice in your area.

See also our Getting Advice guide

Find out more

If you are an adviser see our Disability Rights Handbook

BACK TO START

Other resources

Format: 23/06/2024
Format: 23/06/2024
Benefits Employment