The first contribution condition
In order to qualify for contribution based ESA you must have:
- Actually paid Class 1 contributions in one of the three last complete tax years on earnings of 25 times the lower earnings limit for that particular year; or
- 25 Class 2 contributions in any of the three last complete tax years; or
- A mixture of Class 1 and Class 2 totalling 25 in any of the three last complete tax years.
Class 1 National Insurance contributions are paid by employed people as a percentage of their earnings. Class 2 NI contributions are paid by self-employed people at a standard weekly rate.
The second contribution condition
In addition to meeting the first condition you must also have paid (or have been treated as having paid) Class 1 or Class 2 contributions amounting to at least 50 times the lower earnings limit in each of the two relevant tax years.
The relevant tax years are those that precede the benefit year in which the claim is made. To make things a little more complex, the benefit year runs from the first Sunday in January whereas the tax year starts on April 6th.
Contribution credits count as Class 1 credits and can be used to help you meet the second contribution condition. You are credited for each full week that you receive:
- Incapacity benefit or
- Employment and support allowance or
- Statutory sick pay or
- Severe disablement allowance or
- Income support due to incapacity for work or
- Maternity allowance or
- Jobseeker's allowance or
- Carer's allowance or
- Adoption pay
Most claims are assesed for ESA(C) and ESA(IR) (income related), should you fail to satisfy the FCC and SCC then the claim will be ESA(IR). With ESA(IR) all other income, together with capital between £6000 and £16000, is taken into account.
UK Contribution Based ESA when you come to the UK
If you are insured under the UK scheme and you fall sick while you are working for your employer, you can usually get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). But if, for any reason, you cannot get SSP in the UK, you may get UK Contribution Based ESA (Assessment Rate ) instead.
If you claim UK Contribution Based ESA (Assessment Rate ) in this country, the sickness insurance you paid in another EEA country may be used to help you get UK benefit. But only if you have worked and paid insurance contributions under the UK scheme as an employed or self-employed person since the last time you arrived in the UK.
When you make your claim to the UK details of foreign insurance will be requested from the other Member State you worked in if necessary.
Note that you cannot usually get benefit from more than one country for one lot of sickness.
If you have not paid any UK NI contributions since you last arrived in the UK, you may still get, Contribution Based ESA (Assessment Rate) but only if you:
- worked in another EEA country for a UK employer and paid contributions for the first 52 weeks of your employment abroad; and
- you were ordinarily resident in the UK for the whole time you were abroad and immediately before the start of your employment.