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Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) - Can I get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)?

Find out more about Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Can I get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)?

You may be able to get one or both types of Employment and Support Allowance depending on your circumstances.

The general rule is that you can't work and claim Employment and Support Allowance but you may be able to do some work while still qualifying for this benefit.  See the Turn2us Employment and Support Allowance and 'Permitted Work' information.

Contributory Employment and Support Allowance

You can get this type if you have paid enough national insurance contributions.

You will usually have to have a work capability assessment to prove you have limited capability for work.

Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

You can get this type if your income and savings are low enough. You can't get any income-related Employment and Support Allowance if you have savings of more than £16,000.

You will usually have to have a work capability assessment to prove you have limited capability for work.

Work Capability Assessment

Following your initial claim for Employment and Support Allowance, in most cases, you will be in the assessment phase whilst a medical test called the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is carried out to see if you do have limited capability for work. This is supposed to take place within 13 weeks but can take longer.

The WCA looks at what difficulties you have carrying out a number of physical or mental tasks and usually involves a questionnaire and a face-to-face medical assessment.

The questionnaire is called an ESA50 and is sent to every Employment and Support Allowance claimant to complete and return.  For help with this see our How to complete the Limited Capability for Work Questionnaire information.

Once your questionnaire is returned, you will, in most cases, be invited to attend a face-to-face medical assessment carried out by a health care professional who will make a report for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The DWP Decision Maker will then decide, based on your questionnaire and the report from the health care professional, whether you have scored at least 15 points and therefore have limited capability for work and can continue to receive Employment and Support Allowance. If you have scored less than 15 points you will be found capable of work and your Employment and Support Allowance claim will end.

If you are found to have limited capability for work, the limited capability for work-related activity assessment will then find out whether you will be expected to do work-related activities whilst getting Employment and Support Allowance to prepare to return to work in the future, or if you are not expected to be able to return to work.

Work-Related Activity Group or Support Group

If you have limited capability for work, but do not have limited capability for work-related activity, you will be put in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) and will have to attend a series of work-focused interviews with a personal adviser at your local Jobcentre.

If you have limited capability for work, and limited capability for work-related activity, you will be put in the Support Group and will not be asked to attend work-focused interviews.

People who have a terminal illness

If you have a terminal illness, there are special rules. You will automatically be put into the Employment and Support Allowance support group from the start of your claim without having to be assessed.

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