Eligibility conditions for Employment and Support Allowance

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) - eligibility

You may be able to get Employment and Support Allowance if you have an illness or disability that affects your ability to work. For more information see Employment and Support Allowance.

You may be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance if any of the following apply to you:

  • your Statutory Sick Pay has ended, or you cannot get it;
  • you are self employed or unemployed;
  • you have been getting Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and have not gone back to work for your employer because you have an illness or disability which affects your ability to work;
  • you are under State Pension age.

You must also either:

  • have had an illness or disability which affects your ability to work for at least four days in a row (including weekends and public holidays)
  • be unable to work for two or more days out of seven consecutive days
  • be getting special medical treatment.

If you are aged between 16 and 20 (or under 25 if you were in education or training at least three months immediately before turning 20), you must:

  • have been too ill to work because of an illness or disability for at least 28 weeks (this limitation only applies to contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance, but you may still be eligible for income-based Employment and Support Allowance);
  • have been too ill to work before you turned 20 (or 25 if you were in education or training at least three months immediately before turning 20).

Entitlement conditions

There are two types of Employment and Support Allowance:

  • contribution-based
  • income-related

Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance

You may be entitled to claim contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance if you have paid enough National Insurance contributions.

Income-based Employment and Support Allowance

You may be entitled to claim income-based Employment and Support Allowance if you do not have enough money coming in, or you have not paid enough National Insurance contributions, and you satisfy the entitlement conditions.
This means that you have savings of less than £16,000 and, if you have a partner or civil partner, they work for less than 24 hours a week on average.

How to claim

To claim ESA phone 0800 055 6688 (or textphone 0800 023 4888 if you have a speech or hearing impediment).

To claim ESA in Northern Ireland phone 0800 0856318 (or textphone 0800 328 3419 if you have a speech or hearing impediment)

If you receive ESA (income-related) you may be able to get help with the cost of your mortgage and other home loans. For more information see help with housing costs.  From 27 October 2014 the waiting days have been increased from 3 to 7 which means you will not be paid for the first 7 days of your claim.

Scroll To Top