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Employment Support Allowance (otherwise known as ESA) replaces Incapacity Benefit, and all new claimers who are unable to apply for Job Seekers Allowance due to health or disability reasons will be put on ESA. All present Incapacity Benefit claimants will begin a migration from this to ESA from March 2011 and all these will be completed by 2014.
Employment and Support Allowance has 2 structures:
- The 1st is the assessment phase. A rate is paid from the beginning of your claim, and for 13 weeks whilst a decision is made on your capability for work through the Work Capability Assessment.
- The 2nd phase is the main phase, which starts from week 14 of your claim. You will be told which group you will be placed in, if the Work Capability Assessment shows that your illness or disability does limit your ability to work you will be placed into the Support Group.
There are two groups:
- Work Related Activity Group
If you are placed in the Work Related Activity Group, you will be expected to take part in work focused interviews with your personal adviser. You will get support to help you prepare for suitable work, and in return you will receive a work related activity component in addition to your basic rate.
- Support Group
If you are placed in the Support Group because your illness or disability has a severe effect on your ability to work, then you will not be expected to take part in any work related activities. You can do so on a voluntary basis if you want to and you will receive a support component in addition to your basic rate.
You should be aware that: If you are in the Work Related Activity Group, you will need to regularly see your personal adviser to discuss your work prospects and they will give you help and advice and arrange any activity to get you into work, this could be volunteering, college courses or work programmes.
Failure to attend the appointment with the advisor or take part in work related activity arranged by your advisor will result in your benefit being sanctioned.
For 2012/13 full benefit rates click here
For 2012/13 ESA benefit rate click here
Completing the ESA50 can be hard to we have done a sample form for you to try and help you complete it. Click the link below to open up the ESA50 (pdf file)