What if I have a relative who refuses to claim benefit?
Some people with mental health problems can't or don't want to claim benefits even
though they are entitled to them. It's usually possible for a relative or friend to
become an 'appointee' and make a claim on behalf of the person whose mental
health difficulties are affecting their judgement.
You should speak to the DWP and ask for the leaflet called 'Help with claiming benefits for people with a disability or
What is Employment & Support Allowance (ESA)?
On 27th October 2008, ESA replaced the benefits paid to people over 16 and under
pension age if being ill or disabled makes it difficult for them to work. The main
benefits replaced were:
- Income Support (IS) paid with an extra amount (called a 'disability premium')
- Incapacity Benefit (IB)
- Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA)
People who are still receiving these benefits will be moved over or 'migrated' to ESA.
The DWP plan to start this with a small group of people in October 2010. They will
then start to migrate everyone else starting in February 2011. As there are a great
number of people still receiving these benefits this will not be a quick process. The
DWP believe everyone will be moved onto ESA by 2014.
When your current benefit is up for renewal, instead of being asked to go through the
Personal Capability Assessment you will be asked to go through the Work Capability
If you are due to reach the qualifying age for pension credit between now and 2014
you will remain on your current benefit and move straight onto pension credit.
Why the change?
The government wants to help people who are sick or disabled to get into work or
stay in work if they already have a job.
How does ESA work?
There are three different types of ESA.
- Some people will get 'contributory ESA' because they made enough National
Insurance contributions while they were at work to qualify for it (similar to
- Others will get 'ESA in youth' because their 'period of limited capability for work'
began before they were 20 or sometimes 25 (similar to SDA).
- Many will get 'Income-related ESA' provided they satisfy the rules about income
and capital. These are very similar to the current rules for IS.
Everybody making a new claim for ESA (unless terminally ill) will go into the
'assessment phase' for the first 13 weeks. During this period, the Department of
Work & Pensions (DWP) will assess your physical & mental health and your
prospects of working or training for work. While this happens, single people will be
paid the basic ESA allowance which will be the same as Jobseeker's Allowance.
This is £65.45 for people 25 or over, and £102.75 for couples. These figures are
correct for the period April 2010 until March 2011.
For further information, please see Employment and Support Rates
At the end of the 13 weeks (it could take longer) there will be three possibilities:
- Some people will have to look for work and claim JSA.
- Some will remain on ESA and will move into the 'work related activity' group.
- Some will remain on ESA and move into the 'support' group.
Both groups who remain on ESA will get an additional amount - £25.95 for the 'work
related activity group' and £31.40 for the 'support' group. People in the support
group who get Income-related ESA will also receive the Enhanced Disability premium of an extra £13.65.
It will be possible for people on Income-related ESA to be paid extra money called
'premiums' currently paid to people on IS who qualify for them (e.g. because they
receive a certain level of Disability Living Allowance, live alone and nobody is
claiming Carers Allowance for supporting them). This will be in addition to the basic
ESA allowance and the additional amount paid for support or work related activity.
Phasing in ESA
If you are currently receiving IB, IS or SDA you may be entitled to less ESA under the
new system than what you get at the moment. For example people now on IB who
have partners or children (or both) are paid additional allowances for them but this
will not happen with ESA.
So when you move to the new benefit, you will get an
extra payment called 'transitional benefit' which will bring your ESA up to the same
level as your current payment. No existing claimants should be worse off because of
the change to ESA.
- ESA is paid to people who have 'limited capability for work'.
- To start a claim for ESA you need a note from your GP to confirm that you
are not fit for work.
- You are then asked to take part in a Work Capability Assessment (WCA) so
the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) can decide whether you
qualify for ESA.
- If you do qualify for ESA you will be placed into either the 'Work Related
Activity Group' or the 'Support Group'.
- If you are in the Work Related Activity Group you have to attend meetings
with a personal adviser to discuss and prepare for an eventual return to
- If you are placed in the Support Group you don't have to prepare for a
return to work but you can if you want to.
- If the DWP decide that you don't qualify for ESA then you will be expected
to claim Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA).
- If you disagree with any of the decisions the DWP make you have the right
to ask them to look at the decision again or lodge an official appeal.