Contributory Employment and Support Allowance provides financial help to people who are unable to work because of illness or disability.
You qualify for contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you have paid sufficient National Insurance contributions. There are two contribution conditions you must meet:
The 2 tax years that are relevant are the ones that were completed before the benefit year in which your period of limited capability for work began.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will treat any credits that are earned as a carer as actual National Insurance payments.
The rules are complex and there are situations where the first contribution condition can be relaxed for certain groups of ESA claimants meaning that these specific groups can use National Insurance contributions paid in any tax year to satisfy the first contribution condition. This could apply to you if:
If you think this could apply to you seek advice on your situation.
To find out whether you have paid enough National Insurance contributions to qualify for contributory Employment and Support Allowance you should phone the Department for Work and Pensions on 0800 055 6688 (or 0800 023 4888 if you have a speech or hearing impairment).
As well as having paid enough National Insurance contributions you must also satisfy the other conditions for Employment and Support Allowance. To make an initial claim all you must do is provide a medical certificate. However, after an ‘assessment phase’ (which should be 13 weeks but can take longer) ESA is only payable if you meet the ‘Work Capability Assessment’ rules.
Unlike means-tested benefits, there is no income and savings test for contributory ESA. However, your ESA is reduced by half the amount of any pension or permanent health insurance payment received in excess of £85.
Even if you claim contributory ESA you may also be entitled to income-related ESA to ‘top-up’ the amount you get. To find out your entitlement to income-related ESA please continue through the calculator.
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.
From April 2012 contributory ESA is time limited to one year for those in the work related activity group.
There is no time limit for income-related ESA or contributory ESA claimants in the support group.