Most people who were getting Incapacity Benefit (IB), Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA) and Income Support (IS) paid on the basis of sickness have already had their claims transferred to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). The intention was that this process should have been completed by the spring of 2014 however there are still some people who are waiting to have their claims reassessed.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
There are two types of ESA:
- Contributory ESA which is non means-tested and based on an individual’s National Insurance contribution record. You are likely to be transferred to this if you previously claimed Incapacity Benefit
- Income related ESA which is means-tested.
Both of these types of ESA are paid at three levels:
- Assessment rate during weeks 1-13. This rate is not applicable for people who are transferred from the old sickness benefits system
- Work related activity group rate this is for people who are found to be too ill to work but not ill enough to be placed in the support group
- Support Group rate for people who are found to be both too ill to work and too ill to do work related activity
Whether or not you are accepted as being too ill to work depends on which of a number of descriptors apply to you. More information about the ESA points system is available here Work Capability Assessment
ESA Transfer Process
The DWP will write to tell you about the changes and that you will be reassessed. They will also ring you to check that you have had the letter and that you understand what is going to happen. You will continue to be paid your previous benefit while you are being assessed for ESA.
You will then be sent form ESA 50 a limited capability for work questionnaire. You are given 4 weeks to return the questionnaire and a reminder is sent after 3 weeks. If you need more time to return he form, you should ask for this and explain why. If you do not return the form on time, it is likely that you will be assessed as capable of work and your previous benefit payment will end.
Before you complete this form you should look at the ESA descriptors and score yourself here ESA test. If you are unable to score at least 15 points which is the minimum needed to qualify for ESA you should seek advice and assistance before completing the form.
If you are able to score sufficient points and feel confident in completing the form, you should go ahead with this and ensure that you mentioned the factors that are significant in gaining the points you have identified from the descriptors when answering the questions. Give examples where you can. It is always best to get help with the form if you do not feel confident about completing it.
If possible you should keep a copy of the form.
When DWP get this form they may invite you to a medical. Sometimes DWP will make a decision about your claim based solely on the form.
There are three possible decisions that could be issued:
- You are not accepted as having limited capability for work.
- You are accepted as having limited capability for work and you are entitled to ESA paid at the work related activity group rate.
- You are accepted as having limited capability for work and for work related activity and you are entitled to ESA paid at the support group rate.
The decision on ESA is a decision about both Contributory and Income related ESA. DWP should consider you for both types of the benefit. Your previous benefit payments will end.
If you consider that the decision is wrong, particularly if you have been found capable of work, you should seek and should consider disputing the decision. You will need to do a Mandatory reconsideration ant then an appeal if the decision is not changed,
If you are awarded Contribution based ESA paid at only Work related Activity Group rate you should consider carefully whether you could dispute the decision and be placed in the Support Group as this award will last for 12 months only.