Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is crucial for people with illnesses or disabilities who struggle to work. As more people struggle amid the coronavirus outbreak, ESA has become essential for many. But what actually is ESA benefit?
What is ESA?
ESA provides monetary support for those who need help with living costs if they are unable to work.
The benefit also provides support to return to work if you are able to.
You are able to claim the new style ESA with or instead of Universal Credit, depending on your National Insurance record.
ESA can be claimed at the same time as other benefits such as Personal Independence Payment (PIP), but you cannot claim ESA and SSP at the same time.
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Who is eligible to claim ESA?
To be eligible for ESA you must be:
- Aged 16 or over
- Under State Pension age
- Live in England, Wales or Scotland.
For the new style ESA you must have a limited capability for work and have made enough National Insurance contributions in your lifetime.
How much can you get from ESA?
When you first claim ESA, you will typically receive:
- £74.35 a week if you are aged 35 or over
- £58.90 if you are under 25.
You will receive this assessment rate for 13 weeks while your claim is assessed, but if this assessment takes longer than this, you will continue to receive this rate until a decision is made.
Your ESA will be backdated if you’re owed any money after 13 weeks.
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Once you are assessed, you will be placed into one of two groups: the work-related activity group or the support group.
The work-related activity group is for those able to return to work in the future, while the support group is for those unable to get back into work.
For those in the work-related activity group, you will receive up to £74.35 a week.
For those in the support group, you will receive up to £113.55 a week.
How to claim ESA
To claim ESA you should apply online here.
To apply online, you will need:
- Your National Insurance number
- Your bank or building society account number and sort code.
- Your doctor’s name, address and phone number.
- The details of your income if you are working.
- The date your SSP ends if you are claiming this payment.
You can also apply by phone if you cannot make the application online or if you are an appointee for someone by calling 0800 328 5644 and choosing option 2.
For income-related and contribution-based ESA you can call Jobcentre Plus on 0800 169 0350.
What changes have been made to ESA amid the coronavirus pandemic?
As coronavirus propels more people into financial hardship and disrupts the normal process by which benefits are assessed and granted, ESA arrangements have altered.
Special arrangements have been made for those in receipt of benefits who cannot attend reassessments or jobcentre appointments.
In the Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced that ESA would be payable from the first day of sickness absence to those directly affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating.
This means that claimants who meet these criteria should receive their first payment after around two weeks.
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