Employment and Support Allowance

Employment and Support Allowance

  • 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:

    1. if they have “limited capability for work” and are therefore entitled to ESA;
    2. 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.

    How much?

    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.

    Watch out!

    • 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.

    More information

    Disability Rights UK have a helpful factsheet on their website.

    Contact a Family have published a booklet about PIP and other post-16 benefits.

Page last updated: 28th June 2018