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How Does ESA Work?

Updated 16th April 2017

There are two basic aspects of the ESA benefits system which all new claimants will need to know about.

The first Phase of the ESA benefits is applicable to all claimants, and is basically an assessment phase which will determine what the next stages should be for your own particular case.

This assessment phase is for 13 weeks. During this time you will be assessed on your own circumstances relating to suitability for work of some kind. In this phase, you will be paid the basic rate of ESA. This whole phase is called the work capability assessment.

During this assessment period you may get up to £59.90 if you are under age of 25 years or up to £73.10 if you are over 25 years.

The second or main phase of ESA starts after the first thirteen weeks have finished. By which time the staff will have formed some opinions as to where to guide you next in your search for work - or help you retain your job if you are working!

Following on from the first work capability assessment, if this has shown that you are either incapable e of work, or as seriously limited in the work you can do, then a further sum is payable (they call it a component!).

This can be up to £102.15 if you are in the 'work-related' activity group - OR up to £109.30 if you are in the 'support' group.

This second or main phase, consists of two groups - The Work-Related Activity Group and The Support Group.

Work-Related Activity Group.

As the name of this group suggests, you will be expected to take part in various activities - such as attending interviews with a member of staff who will become your 'personal advisor'. You will be called for interviews which will basically be about helping you back into work. Your advisor will suggest directions you should take in order to get back into work. They will base these recommendations upon the discussions that you have together, and also upon the Work Capability Assessment that has been prepared for you.

If you attend the interviews and generally go along with the suggestions, then you will get an extra payment (component). This one is called the work-related activity payment!

You will only be called to the Work Focused Interview after you have received confirmation that you are indeed suitable for the Work-Related Activity Group. You do not have to attend this group until after the first thirteen weeks - and then only once you have received confirmation that this is the direction you are going to be guided along!

The type of advice you will receive whilst you are in the Work Related Activity Group, will include discussions or advice about......

  • What you should be aiming for to get you back into work. You can put forward your own ideas - and it is good to do so...
  • Your advisor will want to know about any particular skills, experiences with work, and general abilities...
  • You will both discuss the positive steps that you should pursue in order to find work....
  • Any ideas that you have - or problems you might have - it would be a good idea to discuss with your advisor. This would be work related problems, though any personal problems you have which will affect your ability to find or keep work should also be discussed with your advisor.

    If you do not attend these interview - or are generally uncooperative in relation to the interviews or finding work, then you could find yourself without ESA benefits!!

    Support Group for ESA.

    You will not be asked or expected to work if your illness or disability condition is going to have a severe effect upon you being able to work. You may decide to work on a voluntary basis, but there are rules which apply to this type of permitted work whilst in the Support Group. Whilst you are in this Support Group, you will get an additional payment component to the basic ESA payment.

    Whilst you are in the ESA Support Group you do not have to attend interviews - but of course you can always ask to see your personal advisor if you  have something to discuss or clarify.

    Permitted Work Whilst in ESA Support Group.

    The work that is allowed whilst you are on ESA Support, is called permitted work. You should discuss the options with your advisor, and do NOT take on any wok that is outside the Permitted Work Guidelines. It is not compulsory to discuss this type of work with your advisor, but it is recommended by us that you do so.

    No approval from your doctor is required to do some 'permitted work. neither will you need to have a medical from the DWP - other than those normally arranged for the ESA Support procedure.

    Permitted Work is simply an arrangement for ESA benefits.

    Permitted Work allows you to.......

  • work for less than 16 hours a week on average, with earnings up to £107.50 a week for 52 weeks....
  • work for less than 16 hours a week, on average, with earnings up to £97.50 a week if you are in the Support Group of the main phase of Employment and Support Allowance....
  • work and earn up to £20 a week, at any time, for as long as you are receiving Employment and Support Allowance.
  •  Supported Permitted Work and earn up to £107.50 a week for as long as you are receiving Employment and Support Allowance, provided you continue to satisfy the Supported Permitted Work criteria.........
  • (Supported Permitted Work means work that is supervised by someone who is employed by a public or local council or a voluntary organisation, and whose job it is to arrange work for disabled people. This could be work done in the community or in a sheltered workshop. It also includes work as part of a hospital treatment programme.
  • As with any paid work, there may be a liability for income tax to be paid if your total income is above that normally allowed as being tax free. It is best to tell the Tax authorities that you are doing this, rather than waiting to see what happens!!!!

    Doing permitted work may also affect the amount of Council Tax Benefit or Housing Benefits that you may be receiving. This is particularly so if the amount you are paid is more than £20.00

  • March 9th 2017
    ***Child Tax Credit - From April this year the ‘family element’ of £545 per year will be abolished.***

    March 8th 2017
    **MPs are calling for a halt to the accelerating roll-out of Universal Credit as the ongoing problems are causing undue and unnecessary hardship**

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