October 27th 2008 witnessed the existing benefits of Incapacity Benefit (IB), Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA) and Income Support (IS) all being replaced with ESA, otherwise known as, ‘Employment and Support Allowance’.
It is also important to keep in mind that the scheme known as ‘Universal Credit’ may also (in time) effect any current benefits you have in place, however, this programme is under gradual integration into the existing system. Further details regarding Universal Credit can be found at www.gov.uk or by simply calling the Universal Credit helpline which is available from 8am until 6pm on a Monday to Friday.
Calling the ESA helpline
Despite finding a wealth of information online at www.gov.uk, it is often easier to discuss your situation one-to-one. Thankfully ESA helplines are available from 8am until 6pm on a Monday to Friday.
Having the correct information prior to calling ESA customer services can speed your enquiry significantly. For your convenience we have listed the details typically needed when making benefit enquiry:
- National Insurance number
- Relevant medical certificate(s)
- GP’s contact details
- home & mobile phone numbers
- mortgage/landlord details
- Council tax details
- Employer’s contact details plus dates of employment or last day worked
- Bank account information
- Details of any other income, e.g. benefits or sick pay
Calling to discuss an existing claim
If your circumstances change or if you are unsure as to the situation surrounding a current claim it is imperative that you call the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) as soon as possible. In order to speed the handling of your enquiry it is important that you contact the correct department. The most common departments people require are:
- Jobseeker’s Allowance, including:
Incapacity Benefit or
Employment and Support Allowance
- Maternity Allowance
- Social Fund
- Universal Credit
Details of all departments can be found by calling the ESA central contact number provided
Moving to ESA from existing benefit
Whether you are placed into a Support Group or Work-Related Activity Group the transition from your existing benefit to ESA is thankfully straightforward.
Step-by-step, making the move from Incapacity Benefit, Sever Disablement Allowance or Income Support (due to illness or disability) isn’t as daunting as it may appear. In fact the transfer will generally happen automatically and you should not experience any breaks in your payments.
The next stage is the, ‘Work Capability Assessment’ – which is in place to ascertain ESA eligibility.
How much ESA am I likely to receive?
Specific ESA amounts do vary, however if the amount of benefit you currently receive is lower than the ESA award, your payments will generally be increased. There are also ‘Top-Up’ payments available should your current arrangement mean that you receive more than the ESA amount.
More information is available via www.gov.uk, alternatively there is a dedicated Leaflet Line accessible info can be found via the contact number provided. Leaflet Line is the place to request your copy of the publication, ‘Employment & Support Allowance: help if you are ill or disabled’ – lines are open from 8am until 6pm on a Monday to Friday.
Don’t forget you can also request information by writing to:
One City West
What exactly are Support Groups & Work-Related Activity Groups?
ESA comprises two categories namely contributory & income-related sections. For your convenience we have given a brief description of what both categories are:
a duration of 1-year’s contributory ESA can usually be claimed if successful applicants meet National Insurance requirements, this is commonplace for those receiving the ‘work-related’ component. What’ more, those who are in receipt of the ‘support component’ may get an indefinite reward.
pre-established criteria & a specific ‘means test’ are required if claiming on an income-related basis. If both criteria are met, claimants can typically receive contributory ESA topped up with income-related ESA.