When your disabled child turns 16, they may be entitled to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) which is a benefit paid to people whose ability to work is limited by disability or ill health.
If your child is a full-time student they can claim ESA if they are also receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Part-time students are eligible to claim whether they get DLA/PIP or not.
For new claimants the assessment period should usually last for 13 weeks. During this time your child will undergo a “work capability assessment” to determine two things:
- if they have “limited capability for work” and are therefore entitled to ESA;
- and, if so, which of two groups they should be in: the “support group” for more severely disabled people, or the “work-related activity group” for those who may be able to move into work with support and training.
The assessment will usually involve completing a questionnaire and possibly a face-to-face assessment carried out by a health professional.
During the first 13 weeks of a claim – called the assessment period – a reduced basic rate of ESA is paid. After that, if your child is entitled to ESA, they will be placed in one of the two groups and will receive:
- up to £102.15 a week if they are in the “work-related activity group”
- up to £109.30 a week if they are in the “support group”
Some may also be entitled to an Enhanced Disability Premium of £15.75 a week.
- If your child has savings over £6,000 it may affect their claim.
- You can’t claim Child Benefit or Child Tax Credit at the same time as your child claims ESA, so you may need advice about which to claim. Call Contact a Family’s free helpline (0808 808 3555) and ask for a benefits check.
How to claim
Phone the Jobcentre Plus claim-line:
Telephone: 0800 055 6688
Textphone: 0800 023 4888
Remember to check how much your phone provider charges for 0800 numbers because this could be a long conversation!
You can also get a claim form (ESA1) from your local Jobcentre Plus office or download it here.
Disability Rights UK have a helpful factsheet on their website.
Contact a Family have published a booklet about PIP and other post-16 benefits.