ESA – the low down!

So what feels like ages ago I wrote about various carer and home benefits, today I’ve chosen to write about ESA, or Employment Support Allowance. I’ve basically taken information off the gov.uk website and put it into an easier to read format for access…..so read on if you want to know more.

If you’re ill or disabled, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) offers you financial support if you’re unable to work and help so that you can work if you’re able to
You can apply for ESA if you’re employed, self-employed or unemployed.
You might be transferred to ESA if you’ve been claiming other benefits like Income Support or Incapacity Benefit.

You will have a Work Capability Assessment while your claim is being assessed. This is to see to what extent your illness or disability affects your ability to work.
You’ll then be placed in one of 2 groups if you’re entitled to ESA:
Work-related activity group
You must go to regular interviews with an adviser who can help with things like job goals and improving your skills.
Support group
You don’t have to go to interviews and to talk to a personal adviser. You’re usually in this group if your illness or disability severely limits what you can do

What do I get?
You’ll normally get the assessment rate for 13 weeks after your claim. This will be:
• up to £57.90 a week if you’re aged under 25
• up to £73.10 a week if you’re aged 25 or over
After that, if you’re entitled to ESA and put in the right group, you’ll get:
• up to £73.10 a week if you’re in the work-related activity group
• up to £109.65 a week if you’re in the support group

If you’re in the support group and on income-related ESA, you’re also entitled to the enhanced disability premium at £15.90 a week.
You may also qualify for the severe disability premium at £62.45 per week.
If the assessment takes longer than 13 weeks your benefit will be backdated.

The 2 types of ESA
Contribution-based ESA

Contribution-based ESA lasts one year if you’re in the work-related activity group. There’s no time limit on how long you can claim contribution-based ESA if you’re in the support group.
‘New style’ ESA
You can apply for ‘new style’ ESA if you’re entitled to apply for Universal Credit. New style ESA works in the same way as contribution-based ESA. Your partner’s income and savings won’t affect how much new style ESA you’re paid. You can get new style ESA on its own or at the same time as Universal Credit. If you get both at the same time your new style ESA payment will be deducted from your Universal Credit payment – you aren’t guaranteed to get any extra money.

Income-related ESA
You may qualify for income-related ESA if you no longer qualify for contribution-based ESA. How much you get depends on your circumstances. There’s no time limit on income-related ESA.

To apply for ESA you’ll need to fill in a ‘Capability for work questionnaire’. Bare in mind that you don’t want to tell them your absolutely worst or best, however you do want to take a negative view of reality. In other words pick a day when you’re coping, health wise, and then pull the plug on your energy and how much sleep you’ve had and then fill it in based on that. Have a peak a5 it ahead of applying on the link Capability Questionnaire

What you need to claim
You need a bunch of bits to claim for ESA so be proactive and ensure you’ve got all these to hand and ready to fill in before you apply. You’ll need the following when you make a claim:
• National Insurance number
• medical certificate
• GP’s address and phone number
• home and mobile telephone numbers
• mortgage or landlord details
• council tax bill
• employer’s address and telephone number and dates of employment or last day worked
• bank account details
• details of any other money you are getting, such as benefits or sick pay

If you want letters from anyone specific it’s wise to make the right sounds at them before applying (think consultants, GP, specialist nurses, etc) As if you can submit anything extra with your questionnaire it’s worth doing it.

Find everything in full at Gov.uk ESA

Liz xx

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