What is ESA for?
ESA is a government support system that stands for Employment and Support Allowance. It is a slightly complex benefit that comes in two main types depending on your personal situation. It can be claimed alongside other benefits but it also being replaced by Universal Credit in some areas.
Assessment and main phase
When you apply for ESA, you enter what is called the assessment phase. This lasts for at least 13 weeks but maybe longer. You will be sent an ESA50 limited capability for work questionnaire and may also be asked to attend a medical. The assessment phase is where a decision is made about whether you are eligible for the benefit and which of the two groups you will be placed into if you are.
Following this, you will be placed into the main phase. This is where you have been found to be capable of work and placed into either the work-related activity group or the support group. Depending on which group you are placed in, you will receive a different set payment each week.
Support or work-related activity
The two groups for ESA are called the support and the work-related activity group. The support group is where you have been found unable to work or even go to interviews to help sick or disabled people move to work. If you are in this group, you will receive the higher rate of ESA payment.
The work-related activity group is for people who can’t work at the moment but who the DWP thinks will be able to with the right support in the future. You will receive a lower payment and will be required to attend work-focused interviews to help prepare for when you are able to work.
ESA and PIP
If you are receiving PIP, then you can still claim for ESA and you may get a higher payment because of it. You will need a PIP award notice to provide as part of your ESA claim and if you don’t already have this, ring the PIP contact number to get them to issue this. As well as being able to claim ESA with PIP, you may also be eligible for other help including Housing Benefit depending on your situation.
You may also find if you start a new ESA claim that you will instead be considered for the new Universal Credit benefit. This is replacing ESA as well as other benefits such as working tax credit, child tax credit and income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.