Prior to April 2012 special rules allowed young people aged under 20 (or aged 20-25 in certain circumstances) to claim contributory ESA even though they had never worked or paid National Insurance – this was called ‘Employment and Support Allowance in youth’.
ESA in youth was abolished for new claimants in 2012. Existing claimants at that date were able to continue claiming, but their entitlement was limited to one year from the time their entitlement began, disregarding time in the support group. Any time spent on youth ESA prior to April 2012 counted towards the time limit of one year for those placed in the work related activity group for contributory ESA.
If you claim Child Benefit for a child aged 16 years or over who is sick or disabled you may instead be better-off if they claimed Employment and Support Allowance. However, if your child is paid Employment and Support Allowance any benefits or tax credits that you get for them will stop. Because of this fact you should seek detailed advice about whether your household would be better or worse off if your child claims Employment and Support Allowance.
For more information on contributory Employment and Support Allowance for people older then 20 (or aged 20-25 in certain circumstances) see Contributory Employment and Support Allowance.