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Guide to Employment and Support Allowance

Part 1 of 6 in this guide.

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Last updated: 10th May 2011


You may be able to get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you have an illness or disability that affects your ability to work. ESA offers you personalised support and financial help, so that you can do appropriate work if you’re able to.

Can I get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)?

You may be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if any of these apply to you:

  • your Statutory Sick Pay has ended, or you can’t get it
  • you’re self employed or unemployed
  • you’ve been getting Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and haven’t gone back to work due to an illness or disability
  • you’re under State Pension age

One of these statements must also apply to you:

  • I have an illness or disability that affects my ability to work for at least 4 days in a row
  • I’ve been unable to work for 2 or more days out of 7 days in a row
  • I’ve been getting special medical treatment

There are two types of Employment and Support Allowance, contribution-based and income-related.

I’m aged 16-20

If you’re 16-20 (or under 25 if you were in education or training immediately before turning 20), you must:

  • have been too ill to work because of an illness or disability for at least 28 weeks
  • have been too ill to work before you turned 20 (or 25 if you were in education or training immediately before turning 20)

I’ve been living or working abroad

You may be able to claim if you have either:

  • paid enough UK National Insurance contributions in the past (and the equivalent in certain other countries)
  • worked abroad for an employer based in the UK and paid National Insurance contributions for the first 52 weeks

Part 1 of 6 in this guide

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