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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.

Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

You can get income-related ESA if:

  • your income is low enough
  • your savings are below £16,000
  • you have limited capability for work

You can only get ESA whilst you are working if your work is "permitted work". You can read more about what counts as permitted work in our Permitted Work guide.

Contributory Employment and Support Allowance

You can get contributory ESA if you:

You can only get ESA whilst you are working if your work is "permitted work". You can read more about what counts as permitted work in our Permitted Work guide.

Work Capability Assessment

When you claim ESA, you will have to show that you have limited capability for work, The Work Capability Assessment is used to decide whether you have limited capability for work. 

The Work Capability Assessment usually happens within the first 13 weeks of your ESA claim and is made up of two parts:

  • Limited Capability for Work Questionnaire (ESA50)
  • Medical Assessment

The questionnaire, called an ESA50, will be sent to you. You will need to complete and return the questionnaire for your claim to continue. You can find out more about completing the form on our Questionnaire (ESA50) page.

You will usually need to attend a medical assessment in person. A healthcare professional will see you in a face-to-face appointment and then report their findings to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The DWP will then decide whether you have limited capability for work, based on your questionnaire and the report from the medical assessment. They will decide how many points you score in the Work Capability Assessment.  If you score less than 15 points, you are fit for work and your ESA will stop. If you score 15 points or more, you have limited capability for work and your ESA will continue. 

If the DWP decide that you have limited capability for work, you will be placed in one of two groups:

  • work-related activity group
  • support group

People in the work-related activity group have to carry out activities to prepare for returning to work, such as attending work-focused interviews at the Jobcentre. People in the support group do not have to carry out any activities.

People who have a terminal illness

If you have a terminal illness, there are special rules. You will be automatically placed in the support group from the start of your claim without having to be assessed.

 

Updated April 2017

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