ESA is a benefit for people whose ability to work is limited by disability or poor health.
To be eligible for ESA, you must be:
at least 16 and under state pension age
have an illness or condition that prevents or impairs your ability to work
You must not receive:
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
or Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
Types of ESA
'New Style' ESA is linked to your National Insurance contributions over the past 2 to 3 tax years and is not means-tested. Your or your partner’s income and savings will generally not affect the amount you are paid. Income from pensions, health insurance and Financial Assistance Schemes may reduce what you will get.
Contributory ESA is linked to your National Insurance contributions and is not means-tested. Your (or your partner’s) income and savings will generally not affect how much contribution-based ESA you’re paid. Income from pensions, health insurance and Financial Assistance Schemes may reduce what you will get.
Most people can no longer make a new claim for contribution-based ESA and must apply for New Style ESA instead.
Income-related ESA is means-tested. Your other income and savings are taken into account. You can no longer make a new claim for income-related ESA as it has been replaced by Universal Credit.
If you receive income-related ESA you can remain on the benefit, so long as you continue to meet the qualifying criteria, until
you have a change of circumstances that prompts a new claim, or
the managed migration process moves you onto Universal Credit
The Severe Disability Premium (SDP) is not paid to Universal Credit claimants. If you receive the SDP with income-related ESA, you may get a transitional amount when you claim UC.
If you're given 15 points or more, you're thought to have limited capability for work and are entitled to ESA. You'll then have a second test to see if you have a limited capability for work-related activity.
If you're given 14 points or less, you're thought not to have limited capability for work and are not entitled to ESA. You may request a mandatory reconsideration of this decision. You will not be entitled to ESA while this decision is being reconsidered.
The second test looks at whether you should be placed in the support group or the work-related activity group.
The test has a list of activities and descriptions relating to physical and mental, cognitive or intellectual functions. If you satisfy any of these, you're thought to have limited capability for work-related activity and will be placed in the support group.
‘New Style’ ESA and contribution-based ESA can only be paid for 12 months if you’re in the work-related activity group. But you may also be entitled to Universal Credit or Income-related ESA. There’s no time limit if you’re in the support group or if you’re getting income-related ESA. This may carry on beyond 12 months, provided you still meet the qualifying criteria.