Employment and Support Allowance time limit

Information about who is affected by the time limit and what they can do.


Employment and Support Allowance time limit

There is a one-year time limit on payment of contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for people in the Work-Related Activity Group.

Some people affected by the time limit will be able to claim income-related ESA instead, but there will be a large number of people who will not be able to, for example, if their partner is working full time, or if they claimed Employment and Support Allowance after their area moved into the Universal Credit system, and so claimed New Style Employment and Support Allowance.

How will I know when I reach the time limit?

You will be affected by one-year time limit if:

  • you've claimed New-Style ESA and not had an assessment within a year; or
  • you've claimed New-Style ESA, had an assessment, and been found to have Limited Capability for Work; or 
  • you're getting contributory ESA and was previously in Support Group then had reassessment and now placed in work-related activity group. Your one-year time period will start at this point. 

You will get assessed for income-related ESA if you're getting contributory ESA. 

Most of the people affected by one-year time limit rule are claiming New-Style ESA. You will need to claim Universal Credit before your New-Style ESA ends so you can keep your Limited Capability for Work status. There should be no break in your claim so your Universal Credit claim can include the ESA work capability assessment outcome decision. 

What can I do if my contributory Employment and Support Allowance is going to stop?

Seek advice to see whether your condition is severe enough for you to be placed into the support group of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). People in the support group can receive contributory ESA without any time limit.

Use the Turn2us Benefits Calculator to check if you might qualify for other benefits.

You can also use our Find an Adviser tool to find a local benefits adviser who can give further advice on your particular situation.