Most Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claims are made by people who have previously been on Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). the important distinction between the two is that those on JSA are those who are able to actively seek work, whereas ESA claims are made by those who are currently unable to actively search for employment.
There have been mixed reports from people who have attempted to move from JSA to ESA – especially in terms of the kind of feedback that they receive from Jobcentre Plus advisors. In some cases, the staff have actively attempted to move JSA claimants on to ESA, whereas others have reported that they have had resistance from their advisors.
Switching from Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
If you are currently claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance but feel that you are unfit to search for work, the first step that many advise is to make an appointment with your GP in order to assess your wellbeing. Although this will not be legally binding, it allows you to get some scope for whether you will be assessed to be fit for work further down the line.
Whether you are experiencing mental or physical issues, your GP should be able to assess your situation. In some cases, they may be able to simply write a sick note, meaning that you will not need to attend the Jobcentre Plus in order to sign on for JSA for a number of weeks – and in cases where an illness is not recurring or is short term, this is a perfect solution. However, if your issues are longer lasting, the next step is to fill out an ESA claim form.
While the full ESA application process is detailed in our post about making a new claim, the current system appears to require you to speak to a member of the Jobcentre Plus team about your transition. Once your claim has been received, you should, in effect, be signed off from JSA and moved on to ESA while you await an assessment for your eligibility to work. As long as you have the requisite documentation and have filled out the appropriate forms, the DWP should not be able to stop this move.
Moving from Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) to Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
If you ESA claim is unsuccessful, you should then be moved back on to JSA on the same terms that you were on before. This is also the case if you are adjudged to be fit for work again – in which case your ESA claim will be stopped and a new JSA claim should be filed.