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New Style Employment and Support Allowance

Employment Support Allowance (ESA) is paid to people whose ability to work is limited by ill health or disability. Claimants are divided into two groups - the support group and the work related activity group. The group determines:

  • the amount of ESA you receive
  • the responsibility you need to meet in order to keep receiving the benefit. 

Who can apply

You can claim JSA if you have paid enough national insurance credits and are currently unemployed or working under 16 hours per week and are actively able and looking for work.

How to apply

  • Visit the GOV.UK website and download an application form
  • Phone 0800 1690310 to request an application form.

What happens after you apply

The assessment phase takes place over 13 weeks during which time you will undergo an assessment carried out by a healthcare professional. There are several tests during the assessment:

  • Limited capability for work test - this decides whether or not you remain on ESA.
  • Limited capability for work related activity test - this decides whether you have a ‘limited capability for work related activity’ and is used to determine whether you are placed in the support group of claimants or the work related activity group.

The tests have set capability 'descriptors' that are used to make the decisions. You can download these below:

Appealing a decision

Our challenging a benefit decision factsheet [PDF] gives further advice if your claim is turned down. 

Further information