Employee Support Allowance

ESA is available to those who are incapable of work because of Illness or disability and do not qualify for statutory sick pay from their employer:

Under 25 or lone parent under 18

Over 25 or lone parent over 18 rates vary depending on circumstances.

Because Incapacity Benefit is what is known as earning replacement benefit it cannot be paid in addition to a benefit paid for a similar purpose. These benefits are as follows:

· Contributory Jobseeker Allowance
· Severe Disablement Allowance
· Maternity Allowance
· Invalid Care Allowance
· Retirement Pension
· Widowed Parents Allowance
· Bereavement Allowance

These benefits are known as overlapping benefits, where a claim is made for Incapacity Benefit and one of the prescribed overlapping benefits is already in payment, the claimant will be awarded whichever benefit will attract the greatest amount of income for the claimant.

If the claimant’s partner is in receipt of one of these overlapping benefits and is claiming as additional amount for a dependant partner (who has now claimed Incapacity Benefit) the partners benefit will be reduced by the amount that was in payment for the dependant partner.


This is paid at 3 rates

  • Lower rate for first 28 weeks of sickness (replacing sickness benefit)
  • Higher rate for the next 24 weeks of sickness, bringing sickness period to 52 weeks
  • Long term rate for those who are on sick for more than 52 weeks

However, where a claimant is in receipt of the highest rate of Disability Living Allowance Care Component, or is terminally ill (and expected to die within 28 weeks) he/she will be awarded the long-term employment support allowance after 28 weeks of sickness rather than have to wait the full 52 weeks to benefit from this income.


Qualifying conditions of entitlement

Benefit payment is based on the claimant having sufficient National Insurance contributions over a two-year period, prior to claiming this benefit.  However, claimants who have not satisfied the contributions condition may qualify for ESA on the grounds of being incapable of work.

Contributions condition may qualify for Income Support on the grounds of being incapable of work.


Claims for ESA employment support allowance can be made at your local Job Centre Plus.  A certificate of sickness should accompany this from the claimant’s general practitioner.  No payment of benefit will be made for the first 3 days of incapacity, thereafter you will qualify for the short term award of benefit for a period 364 days before falling into entitlement to the long term benefit payment.

Periods of incapacity, which are separated by eight weeks or less, will be linked together to give continuous claim status.  However, each period would continue to have the 3 day initial days of waiting before falling into benefit payment on the 4th day of incapacity.

To make a new claim for ESA please telephone: 0800 055 6688

National Numbers

Local Job Centre Plus

Telephone: 0800 055 6688