ESA is the benefit that is paid when one’s workability is limited by disability or ill health. This allowance is a great benefit for the ones who find their work difficult because of their disability or their poor health condition. For example, if one suffers from MS (Multiple Sclerosis), they might be entitled to ESA.
Employment and Support Allowance has essentially two parts. First one is an income related allowance. In this ESA, the savings and income of a person affect the ESA amount they receive. The second one is a contributory allowance. This highly depends upon the National Insurance contributions paid by the person. Even this ESA is payable only for 12 months if the person is in work related group.
This contributory ESA is also called contribution based ESA. To claim one’s ESA, one’s capability to work must be limited. This is checked using work capability assessment. Also, the person should not work, although it is permitted to do limited work. The person should be over 16 years and under state pension age. It is applicable only when the person is in the UK.
There are two groups into which people that claim ESA can be split into- The support group and the work-related activity group. The support group gets higher rates of ESA when compared to the work-related activity group. Also, there is no need for the person to look for job or work, but they are allowed to volunteer if they are capable.
The work related group is for the ones that do not get qualified for the support group. In this group, people are required to meet work-related conditions like interviews. If the conditions are not met, there might be a decrease in the ESA amount paid or the payment can be permanently stopped. Even if a person gets a contributory ESA under this group, it’s only payable for 12 months.
The assessment takes 13 weeks when a person claims for ESA. During this period of assessment, the ESA rate is reduced to the ‘basic allowance’. This assessment decides if the person is eligible for the ESA even after the assessment period. It also decides in which group the person will be placed. There are two parts to the assessment- filling out a questionnaire and a face-to-face assessment.
Applying for ESA
ESA can be applied online in England, Scotland and Wales by downloading the ESA1 application form from Government website. A paper printout needs to be filled out in Northern Ireland. A paper copy of the form ESA1 would be available in Job centre Plus offices or call the ESA contact number.
‘Capability of work’ Form
Once the details have been checked by Jobcentre, a customer statement will be sent to let the person know if the claim was successful. It can take up to 3 weeks or more to tell the results. Next, a capability of work form will be sent to the person to assess their physical and mental capabilities.
The next step would be the face to face assessment. The person will have to meet with an approved health care professional. This professional will talk about the person’s disability. If the person is not able to go to the assessment center, they can ask for a home visit. But if the person does not attend the medical assessment and if there isn’t any good reason provided, then the benefit and the claim will be stopped.