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Employment and Support Allowance phase

Employment and Support Allowance has two phases; the assessment phase that is paid while you await your Work Capability Assessment (this should be up to 13 weeks but can be longer), then the main phase once you have been placed in either the Work Related Activity Group or the Support Group. Please enter the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) phase you are in.

When you first make a claim for ESA after a seven day ‘waiting period’ you will be put on the ‘assessment phase’. This period is to allow JobCentre Plus to assess whether you are eligible and, if you are, what rate of ‘main phase’ ESA is payable. At this stage all you need to show is a medical certificate.

After the 'assessment phase' ESA is only payable if you meet the 'Work Capability Assessment', which determines your level of illness or disability and how this affects you day to day. The DWP will decide if you are entitled to ESA, and if so, which group you should be placed in during the main phase. This also determines the amount of ESA you are entitledto. 

People who are assessed as not having limited capability for work cannot get ESA. They will instead have to sign on for Jobseekers Allowance or, if they can, claim Income Support.

During the assessment phase a person is paid the basic rate of ESA. People classed as terminally ill are paid the basic rate plus an additional amount, the support component. Contribution-based and income-related ESA is paid at a lower rate for claimants under 25 during the assessment phase.

For more information see eligibility conditions for Employment and Support Allowance. More details on the process for claiming and assessing ESA are available on the Employment and Support Allowance section of DWP's website.  If you live in Northern Ireland more details on claiming and assessing ESA are available on the NIDirect website.