What is ESA?
If you’re struggling with mental health issues and aren’t well enough to work, you can apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) to help ease your financial pressures. There are two types and these are based on either your National Insurance contribution or your income.
'New style' ESA
You can get 'new style' ESA if you paid enough National Insurance while you worked. Your savings, income or the income of other people in your household does not affect how much you receive, but if you have a pension then this may reduce the amount.
'New style' ESA is paid for up to 12 months, unless you go into the Support Group. After this, you might get income-related ESA – but don’t worry as if you are in the Support Group, you will continue to get 'new style' after 12 months. There is more information about ESA groups below.
If you are not eligible for 'new style' ESA, you might be able to claim income-related ESA if your circumstances change and you are in receipt of the Severe Disability Premium or got the Severe Disability Premium within the last month and you’re still eligible for it
Contribution based ESA
This would be the same criteria as the ‘new style’ ESA as above but you would also need to be in receipt of the Severe Disability Premium or have received the Severe Disability Premium within the last month and you’re still eligible for it.
How often will I get paid ESA?
Every two weeks, your ESA will be paid directly into your bank, building society or post office account.
How much will I receive?
The first 13 weeks of your claim is called the assessment phase and during this time, you will get the basic rate of ESA.
From April 2018, the basic rate of ESA is:
- £73.10 a week for single people over the age of 25,
- £57.90 a week for single people under the age of 25, or
- £114.85 a week for couples.
During the first 13 weeks, the Social Security Agency (SSA) will ask you to undergo a medical assessment to verify if you are well enough to work or not. If the SSA decides you are not well enough to work you will go into the main phase of ESA. You will be put into either the work-related activity group (WRAG) or the support group.
Once you are in the main phase of ESA the amount you will get is as follows:
- £73.10 a week for all single people (both over and under 25)
- £114.85 for couples
There’s a chance that you may receive an extra amount in your ESA, depending on which of the two ESA groups you are in and the date you claimed:
- Work-Related Activity Group if you claimed before 3rd April 2017, you will get an extra amount of £29.05 per week, but if you claimed after 3rd April 2017, you will only get the basic rate and no extra amount.
- Support group - you will get an extra amount of £38.55 a week.
Find out more on ESA groups.
Sometimes you can get extra money added to your benefit called ‘premiums’:
Enhanced Disability Premium
If you are in the support group or if you receive any of the following, you will receive the enhanced disability premium, which equates to an extra £16.80 per week:
- Disability Living Allowance (high rate care component),
- Personal Independence Payment (enhanced daily living component), or
- Armed Forces Independence Payment.
Severe Disability Premium
If you are single and receive either of the following, you will receive the severe disability premium, which is an extra £65.85 per week:
- Disability Living Allowance (middle or high-rate care component), or
- Personal Independence Payment (standard or enhanced daily living component).
There must also be:
- No other adults living with you, and
- Nobody that receives Carer’s Allowance for caring for you.
There are, however, different rules if you live with a partner.