If you are unable to work you may be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and/or Universal Credit (UC), which is gradually replacing the majority of means-tested benefits and tax credits paid to people of working age.

If you are unfit for work and have paid enough national insurance contributions you could be entitled to contributory ESA (also known as ‘new style ESA’). If you haven’t paid sufficient contributions you may be entitled to a means tested benefit such as Universal Credit instead.  In some circumstances you could also be entitled to Universal Credit to supplement your ESA.  For example if you have dependent children or a liability for rent. The type of ESA and means-tested benefits you can get depends on if you are on benefits already or need to make a new claims.

Once you claim ESA and/or Universal Credit as unfit for work, you will usually enter a 13 week assessment phase. You will need a ‘fit note’ from your GP to confirm you are not well enough to work. During the assessment phase you will be paid a basic rate of benefit prior to undergoing a work capability assessment (WCA).

The WCA will detemine your ‘work group’. You will have to complete a questionnaire  and in most cases attend a ‘face to face’ assessment.  It will be decided if you are deemed fit for work, have limited capability for work (if you could manage work preparation activities) or limited capability for work related activity (you are not able to manage any work preparation such as training or coaching).  The work group will also determine if your benefit will cease, remain the same or increase. If you are unhappy with a decision you can challenge it.

More information is available via https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance

Alternatively please contact our Welfare Benefits team on 0208 420 6711

Welfare Benefits

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