Employment Support Allowance (ESA)

ESA replaced both incapacity benefit (IB) and income support (IS) paid on the grounds of incapacity for new claims from 27 October 2008.

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 introduced some changes to ESA:

  • Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance was made time limited. Contribution-based ESA is up to 365 days if the claimant is in the Work Related Activity Group or assessment phase. The 365 day time-limit does not include any time spent in the Support Group or the time spent in the assessment phase if they moved from the assessment phase into the Support Group at the start of their claim.
  • The ‘Youth’ provisions for ESA were abolished. The special contribution conditions that allowed some young people to qualify for contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance without paying National Insurance contributions were removed.

Eligibility for ESA is assessed by the Work Capability Assessment. See also Sanctions and Writing clinical evidence for ESA claims.

Further information