ESA and UC when unwell

Friday 27 July 2018

In Part 2 of our look at benefits while not well enough to work we take a look at Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit (UC) (on grounds of sickness) which is replacing part of ESA. 

In Part 1 of this series of 5 blogs - see links at the end of this blog  -  we looked at benefits when you are not well enough to work in general, how these are changing and how they fit in with other benefits that can also help when you are too unwell to work.  We also looked at Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) in particular, which is the minimum amount that an employer usually has to pay for up to 28 weeks of sickness.

But what happens if you don’t have an employer: perhaps you were self-employed or unemployed when you became sick? Or you do have an employer, but come into that minority of employees who can’t get Statutory Sick Pay? Or you were paid Statutory Sick Pay, but -  as is often the case with people going through cancer treatments - you are not ready to go back to work when your SSP finishes after 28 weeks?

The answer in all cases is Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) from Jobcentre Plus, part of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). These names may sound a bit confusing if you were expecting to still find a “sickness benefit” down at the “Department of Health and Social Security”, but we have been through many levels of reform and benefits simplification since... That also means that in most areas – and all areas by the end of 2018 – Universal Credit will also play a part for new claims. 

It is also worth remembering, ber that while getting SSP from an employer prevents you getting ESA, that SSP is not the same as any other payments under your contractual sick pay, which may go above and beyond SSP.  So if you still get some sick pay from work after your SSP ends, that does not prevent you from claiming ESA, which can then be a useful cushion when e.g. some sickness schemes drop from full pay to half pay. 

We pick up the numbering from last time ...

  1. What is Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)?

ESA merged the old non-means tested benefits - the non-means tested Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance and the means tested Income Support (for sickness) - into a single "sickness route" benefit for new claims from October 2008. The new name for ESA emphasised it’s new deal of offering more help towards returning to work for those that could, alongside support for those who could not -  more of which later. This doesthough  lose some of the simplicity of old names such as Incapacity Benefit or its even more “says what it is on the tin” predecessor Sickness Benefit. But effectively thats what ESA is - the not that new, combined,  benefit for sickness.

Existing claimants of the previous “sickness route” benefits were all meant to be re-assessed under the new tougher ESA tests between April 2011 and March 2014,. Most were but there still some that haven’t been.

Despite the common name and the fact that it’s all one ESA claim, there are two parts to your ESA and you may end up receiving just one, both or neither. These are: 

3.1 Contributory ESA 

You claim this non means tested strand of ESA just for youin your own right, regardless of most any other income or savings you or any partner may have. You are entitled to this non-means tested version if you have paid (or been credited) with enough National Insurance contributions in the last 3 to 4 years before you claim. It is roughly equivalent to the old Incapacity Benefit. 

Contributory ESA remains outside the new Universal Credit scheme,  but is renamed “New-style” ESA for new claims where the full Universal Credit is in operation. It is the essentially the same thing,  but picks up a few links to the UC system and some of its difficulties. Existing claims of Contributory ESA stay as they are when an area transitions to full service UC. and if you later qualify for a top up from Income-related ESA you can still get it. Rather than have to claim Universal Credit.

3.2 Income-related ESA

This is claimed  jointly with any partner and which will be affected by any other income or savings you  - and any partner - have. This means tested version can be paid instead of Contributory ESA or as a top up to it.

It works as a safety net for anyone who has little or no other income by topping up any other income you - and any partner may have to a basic poverty line income set according to your circumstances. So in relation to Contributory ESA, it may be paid:

  • instead because you don’t have the right National Insurance contributions to get Contributory ESA or in some cases that has “timed out
  • as a top up because although the basic rates are identical, Income-related ESA contains extra amounts : for partners, especially if over pension age (but if so do look at Pension Credit instead while you still can), being a carer, if you get a disability benefit. Your maximum Income-related ESA could be a lot higher than Contributory ESA, although  whether you get any of this extra amount will depend on other household income

Income-related ESA will eventually be absorbed into Universal Credit. All areas are due to have have gone live with "full service UC by the end of December 2018, and until then you need to check for your area. In a full servic UC area: 

  • existing claims for Income-related ESA stay as they are for the time being. 
  • if you were on Contributory ESA before then you can continue to have Income-related ESA added on to your claim for any top up. 
  • if you are making an entirely new claim,  then it would be for ‘New-style” ESA, with Universal Credit either instead or as a top-up.

See a forthcoming separate series of blogs about Universal Credit.

3.3 Getting neither kind of ESA

It is also possible to end up with neither type of ESA , as:

  • you  may not have the right NI contributions for Contributory/”New Style”  ESA, and 
  • your other income brings you above Income-related ESA / Universal Credit  levels 
  • and in some situations, Contributory / “New style” ESA has a 12 month time limit on it ‘ so if you can’t get any means tested help instead then these benefits stop. 

The only obvious benefit of making/continuing with such a claim is that you are credited with Class 1 National Insurance contributions, so these are known as “credits only” claims. But there are other advantages to keep such a claim going ,which we explore in Part 5 

Letters from ESA are not always very about which sort of ESA you are getting - often it makes little practical difference but sometimes it can:

  • David lives with Carol and they were both working when Carol got a diagnosis of breast cancer. David’s income from various this and that’s amounting to a low wage of around £150 a week. The fact that Carol can get Contributory ESA/”New Style” ESA  makes a big difference - eventually some £110.75 a week- to the family income The benefit then aims to prevent sliding into poverty rather than picking you up after. 
  • Merlin lives with Morgana and their uneven work history as magical beings means NI is not up to scratch while Morgana makes only a small income from snaggle toothed soothsaying. Merlin needs to claim Income-related ESA / Universal Credit  which will top up their joint income initially only up to a bare subsistence level of £114.85 a week
  • Hagrid lives alone in a cottage in his employer’s grounds. His employers are no longer paying any sick pay, but are providing some forage for his collection of magical beasts. He isn’t that bothered whether it’s Contributory or Income-related ESA as the amount works out the same. However,  Income-related ESA could be better as it helps with other benefits ,e.g. Housing Benefit claims or fares to the hospital, though as Hagrid says he has dragons for that…
  • Hermione’s grateful employers are continuing to pay half pay when she switches to ESA from SSP. For her it is important that she gets Contributory / “New Style” ESA otherwise the half pay would just be taken off Income-related ESA / UC (for limited capability. She checks things out at the library and realises that by back paying just a few National Insurance contributions from her previous freelance days, she can make it so.

  1. Claiming ESA and UC

4.1 How do I claim "old style" Contributory / Income-related ESA?

You apply - whether straight away if you can’t get SSP or in the run up to that SSP ending - by either:

  • ringing 0800 055 6688 and completing over the phone which is what the DWP would rather you did. They will send you a print out to check over and return signed along with any other documents they need;  or
  • filling in an ESA1 claim form. You can download either a version to print off and fill in by pen or fill in on screen from the page here. If you don’t have a printer to get this on to paper, then ring the number above and ask them to send you one. Forms can be dropped off or sent to your local Jobcentre Plus office.

You can either just claim Contributory ESA or you can claim both. Opting to claim both involves some extra questions about any partner and both your and their income and savings. However, saying “No” could mean missing out on some useful extras. So, unless you know for sure that you won’t get Income-related ESA (e.g. your partner is in a well-paid job) then it may be safer to claim both. It is possible to only be entitled to Contributory ESA now , but become entitled to Income-related ESA later on, pehaps as extra amounts for disability or carers following a claim for “disability benefits” kick into the sums. As it's one benefit you can always have Income-related ESA added on later.

4.2 Claiming ESA late - or even early

It may have taken you a while to pick yourself up off the floor after a cancer diagnosis and get around to all this. You can backdate ESA for up to 3 months to whatever date you first became unable to work, without needing to give any particular reason. UC though will only allow backdating for up to a month and then only if you can show good cause e.g. the emotional impact of receiving a cancer diagnosis. 

You can claim ESA up to 3 months in advance if you know you are going to need to claim. However,  ESA won’t be able to cope with claims much more than 5 weeks in advance if you are coming off Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). This is because they will need the SSP1 letter that your employer will send you around that time confirming the last day of any SSP. UC does not do advance claims. 

It is the last day of your SSP that determines the start date of ESA (the following day). You can move on to ESA even if your employer continues paying you some sick pay under your work scheme - after 28 weeks this will no longer include any SSP. However, any such work sick pay while ignored for Contributory ESA, will count as income against any Income-related ESA.

4.3 Confusion with “New Style” ESA

Because of some links to UC process, the DWP preferred route is to ring the UC Service Centre and press option 2 and then option 6 to make a telephone claim for “New Style ESA”  Previously they belatedly set up a dedicated separate phone  number for these claims, when they realised that their starting point - that you could only claim 'New style ESA as part of making a UC claim did not cover all situations nor was it right in law.  

Many visitors to Maggie’s Centres have savings, work sick schemes or a partner’s income which means they are not entitled to means tested benefit but are entitled to “New -style ESA” which remains an entirely separate non-means tested benefit. Being forced to access this through making a UC claim was a waste of everyone’s time and led a busy working partner into processes and interviews for no good reason., as well as making the process much more intrusive.  

After much lobbying the DWP realised a need to allow for people who needed to just claim New Style UC, via the dedicated number now options from the UC Service Centre menu. Unfortunately, your call doesnt get through to a dedicated New Style ESA team at the other end and people are still  frequently being told either:

  • that they have to claim new style ESA through making a UC claim when not entitled to UC - which is plain wrong ; or 
  • if needing to claim UC to not bother with claiming any “New Style” ESA as it will only be taken away from their UC anyway. It will be but there are still advatages in claiming the ESA anyway.

What should happen  is:

  • your details should be taken and a claim registered and 
  • an ESA(UC) form along with a separate form for details of the account you wish it to be paid into be sent out and 
  • an appointment be made for an interview down at your local Jobcentre plus.

Busy advisers are getting fed up with taking untrained staff through the process to get this process going and have taken to quite legally making valid claims by just sending an ESA (UC) form - adding the NI number at the top - along with bank details to ESA , who are happily paying the award. By all means do try the DWP’s preferred route - as officially the issue is resolved and there should not have been confusions since June 2017 -  but otherwise see the links to get the forms and bypass the issue. 

4.4 Making a UC claim

This is done online. 

  • First you sign up for a UC account using a valid e-mail and setting up a password, just as you might register with other online sites. 
  • You can then start making the claim by completing a series of To Dos within your account. You can break off and save as you go and do these in any order you like . Once started you have up to month to complete it, but your claim will only start from the day you press submit. 
  • After that you will get instructions to see if you can verify your identity on line and to accept an initial general Claimant Commitment on line. 

You then need to ring a number that appears to arrange an appointment at tour local JobCentre Plus - this is to verify your ID if the online verification doesn’t work and where necessary agree a more detailed and personalised Claimant Commitment. For many people starting a cancer journey the initial Commitment is all thats needed. But do ring the number anyway even if everything has worked online - just for them to confirm and record if an interview is unnecessary. If you do not ring within 7 days then UC - with some question as to whether their practise is lawful - will close your claim.

You can see a video run through of the UC claim process - see the links below

4.5 What will I need when making a claim?

You will need details of your National Insurance number - you may start to learn it by heart - and details such as name, date of birth, address of your GP, and the account into which you want the money paid. 

For ESA, you will also need a medical certificate from your GP - the old sick notes now known as “fit notes” to accentuate the positive of when you might return to work and what might help. If you are coming off SSP you will need that SSP1 letter from your employer confirming the last date when SSP is due.

If you are claiming Income-related ESA, you may also need evidence of your other income and savings (and those of any partner). The form/telephone script tells you what you need to send in, while sometimes the DWP will write to you for anything further they need.

GP's notes are not strictly needed for UC but can be very helpful in discussions with your UC workcoach

  1. How much ESA - or UC - will I get and when?

5.1 Contributory ESA/New style ESA 

These start at an assessment phase rate of £73.10 for a single person (or £57.90 if you are under 25). The basis for uprating was changed in 2011 and resulting increases were first capped at 1% and then frozen . Had previous conventions been upheld to maintain the value of subsistence rates set in the 1960s - these would now be worth £69.25 and £87.50 respectively 

Unlike the previous Incapacity Benefit, there are no additions for partners, children, age additions for younger long term sick claims or general additions for long term sickness.

However,  those long term sickness additions were replaced by additional ESA components. The ESA “new deal” , then, was to offer that  extra amount earlier in your claim, but in exchange for some work related activity from those claimants who could manage it. The extra amount – called an ESA component – usually kicks in from week 14 depending on the outcome of your  Work Capability Assessment (see below) .

There are two rates depending on which group you are allocated to:

  • the Support Component adds a further £37.65 a week into the sums and also triggers an extra amount in the sums for Income related ESA and UC, so you may now qualify for a top up for the first time.
  • the Work Related Activity Component was £29.05, but was abolished for new claims from April 2017. Those already on ESA at that time retain the right to carry on receiving it or to drop down to it if they come out of the Support Group. 

In both groups under 25s also move up to the full basic entitlement of £73.10 a week 

5.2 Income-related ESA 

This matches the basic amounts in Contributory exactly, so that initially the income from Contributory ESA might prevent a claim for any Income related ESA. 

It would though save a lot of hassle and paperwork if the Income-related ESA rate was set  just 10p higher,  so that those whose only income is Contributory ESA could  also automatically get access to the full amounts in other benefits such as Housing Benefit, council tax support or help with fares to hospital.

However, Income-related ESA also included extra amounts not included in Contributory ESA, so you may qualify for a top up because of these extra amountss for: a partner, especially if of pension age, for receiving a disability benefit (in some circumstances) and  for being a carer. We’ll look at the amounts in more detail in a separate series covering the means tested benefits. 

For the many with cancer who are allocated to the Support Group,  that also triggers an extra amount within Income-related ESA - the enhanced disability premium – worth £16.40 if single and £23.55 for couples. So at that point, those on Contributary ESA with little other income, may well begin to qualify for some Income-related ESA as well. 

The Courts have recently forced the DWP to pay up for not having properly taken the measures at the time to ensure people switching over to ESA were considered for this top up and doing nothing about it when they realised the issue. They are now having to go back through the records and backpay in full and some will receive up to £5,000 in backpay. 

5.3 So… how much ESA will I get and when? 

From the above, you can see that’s easier to answer then for Contributory/ “New Style” ESA  only claims - your basic amount plus Support Component once it kicks in . Many visitors start on £73.10 and move to £110.75 a week

However, if you are claiming Income-related ESA – either instead or as a top up to Contributory ESA, it rather " all depends “  firstly as to if any of the different top ups apply and then on the sums that look at your other income, savings and those of any partner .

Whichever sort of ESA – and whatever the amount you get the payments of ESA are usually two-weekly in arrears but with 7 “waiting days” when you start: unless you are coming off previous benefits or SSP, returning back to ESA after a short break or are otherwise exempt.  If you cannot manage until then you can ask for an advance payment of Income-related ESA.

5.4. What about Universal Credit?

This is always calculated monthly, so you have to divide UC rates by 4.3333 to compare with JSA. The basic principles are similar to Income related ESA and so again the answer is going to be it all depends There are some key differences though:

  • the basic rates £57.90 and £73.10 are the same, except that under 25s remain on lower amounts throughout their time with limited capability and couples and lone parents under 25 ralso get hit which was not the case before.
  • the Limited Capability Element – UC’s equivalent of ESA WRAC -  is similarly restricted and paid at the equivalent of £29.05 a week
  • the Limited Capability for Work Related Activity Component – the equivalent of ESA Support Component  I set a lot higher under UC at £75.76 a week as it merges in that extra premium into the element and adds a small amount to compensate for the abolition of adult disability premiums in UC – overall you may or may not be better off under UC arrangements.

As for other additions: 

  • there is no extra amount if you have a partner of pension age, so you would be well advised to get yourself off UC and over to Pension Credit while you still can - measures are due during 2019 to close off claims to Pension Credit until both partners reach pension age.
  • there are no adult disability elements – and the DWP have again found themselves in the Courts around its plans to transfer people over from Income-related ESA
  • UC will include amounts for children that are dealt with separately through Child Tax Credit under the legacy system
  • UC also covers help from any rent  - replacing Housing Benefit . You will though still have to make a separate claim for council tax.

So, the fact that UC replaces several benefits - not just Income-related ESA and other top up equivalents - and that many in the ESA Support group and equivalent may gain under UC - means that it may be much more common for those on “New style “ ESA to be entitled to a top up from UC than it is for those on Contributory ESA to claim Income-related ESA.

UC is paid monthly at the end of each assessment period. This means a 5 week wait until the first payment . After intensive lobbying  from all sides, the rules were changed to allow a full advance payment to be accessed if needed and much more easily. It was a matter of shame to all of us that UC as the new safety net benefit, was ever allowed out to play witout that prvision in place and that people with cancer had to depend on food banks and be at risk of losing their homes.  

  1. How is “sickness” assessed under ESA?

6.1 The Work Capability Assessment  - of sheep, goats and in-betweeners

The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is the DWP’s own assessment of whether you qualify for ESA or UC (on limited capability grounds)  It is essentially the same test under all the benefits for sickness, so if you should move over from Income-related ESA to Universal Credit, your current "WCA status"  moves over with you. You should not have to be re-assessed, though you may need to be firm with UC about this.

Within it their are two tests : one based on a points score to see if you have "limited capability for work" and the other as to whether you meet any one of a number of more severe difficuties to see if you also have "limited capabilty for work related activity" . You can be "treated" as passing both tests in certain circumstances without actually having to be assessed and scored, and this is particularly important for a large number of people with cancer - see more below.

The possible outcomes of the asessment are:

  • You are assessed as not being unwell enough for either test and are turned down completely That means you would no longer be entitled to any further ESA and would be given information about claiming a separate benefit as a jobseeker . Under UC, you stay on the benefit, but do not get access to or remain among - those who have limited capability - so would need to review your work related activity with your workcoach.  In either case, get advice as the appeals success rate is worryingly high at 60% - suggesting that all is not well with the asessments.
  • You remain on ESA or continue with UC with "limited capability - and are allocated to one of two groups , depending on whether you just have "limited capability for work" or whether you also have "limited capability for work related activity" (see below) 

6.2. The ESA assessment phase / UC relevant period

If you are starting a new claim for ESA or UC, then the first 13 weeks of your claim is called the “assessment phase” under ESA and a 3 month “relevant period under UC  What happens during this time is a bit different under each benefit.

ESA treats you as sick based on your GP’s “Fitness for Work” certificates (formerly known as sick notes/lines until the WCA decides otherwise.  Initially ESA did start to talk about work requirements early on but soon realised this was a waste of time and resources: people were either only likely to be on ESA for a short period or were in the midst of coming to terms with a long term illness such as cancer or a mental health crisis.; the person conducting the interview had no information from the assessment process to go on nor knowledge of of which ESA group they were going to be allocated too. So, pre-assessment contact around work was dropped

Universal Credit has - accidentally or by design – forgotten that learning. It’s the reverse while awaiting your assessment in that after the first month you are treated as full on jobseeker until the assessment proves otherwise. That means that it is very much up to the discretion of your  individual UC work coach as to what happens until then. Many are hugely supportive and sensitive, others have taken the “work can make you better” message too much to heart, and with a background to date of working mainly with jobseekers,  there is learning to be done in working with a wider range of people and around their ability to “switch off” work requirements altogether. However, many affected by cancer should have their sickness status confirmed much earlier and so be far less exposed to this work coach lottery.  

6.3  How does the Wok Capability Assessment work?

People with cancer may often avoid most of the full assessment, but by no means always. For example, if you are unwell but on a “watch and wait” regime for now, or are well into recovery but still unwell . You may face the full WCA  For now, I offer just a brief description of the process and important exception for many people with cancer. . But I cover the full assessment in more detail in part four of this series

Basically, then, the full Work Capability Assessment comprises 

  • First, a questionnaire will land on your doorstep some four weeks into your claim with lots of big boxes to explain the limitations you experience in 17 “functional areas” considered by the assessment  This is called an ESA50 for ESA and a UC50 for UC. Often the form will be issued straightaway for people with cancer . You get a month to return this along with any other evidence
  • The form – and any other evidence – will be looked over by a Health Professional employed by the American multinational that picked up the contract to do ESA assessments after the system collapsed under the previous contract holders, Atos . They may decide that there is enough there to reach a recommendation as to your scores under the assessment.
  • However, in most cases you will be referred to a face to face assessment. These should be at about week 9 tor 10 but can be subject to significant delay at times. That assessment leads to a detailed - but occasionally rather mistaken - report  back to the DWP.
  • The report goes back to a DWP decision-maker who can query it and/or refer it back and is meant to weigh the report along with all the evidence . as they reach their decision, which they will then communicate to you. 

6.4  The two groups for ESA / UC (with limited capability).

These are:

  • ESA Work Related Activity  / UC Limited Capability for Work Group  - the majority of ESA claimants were intended to come into this  category. You will have been assessed as having “limited capability for work”, but also that it is reasonable to require you to participate in some “work related activity”. This might mean attending work focussed interviews, getting involved in training or work experience which will help you become more work ready as your health allows. Sanctions can apply if you are deemed not to participate. Only a minority of cancer patients tend to come in this group, perhaps during recovery. We’ll take a closer look in Part 5. Where we will also explore a what “work related activity” means. This group remains despite the abolition of the extra ESA component/ UC element that goes with it  We explore more as to what this work conditionality might mean
  • ESA Support  / UC Limited Capability for Work Related Activity (LCWRA) Group. – However, in practise most people passing the WCA have ended up in the Support Group, with some critics suggesting that too many are being wrongly sent away to be full on jobseekers. Be that as it may, those affected by cancer are very likely to end up in this group, at least at first. See below as to why).  The difference in this group is that  you are deemed to also have “limited capability for work related activity” as well as “limited capability for work”  This means you are not required to get involved in work related activity and need not have any fear of sanctions for not complying with work related activity.  However, you remain free to dip into the positive offers of support and training that are available as and when you want to and feel ready to start thinking about what might help in preparing for a return to work. The other advantages of being in this  Group are that you are paid a bit more (enhanced by a further amount within Income-related ESA and UC)  and you are protected from the 12 month time limit for Contributory  / “New Style ESA that applies to the other group. For more detail on this see Part 5. 

6.6 How do many people with cancer avoid the full Work Capability Assessment.

Having cancer does not automatically bypass the full WCA but there are two ways this can often happen:

  • Awaiting, receiving or recovering from treatment. Most commonly – and regardless of any staging, grading or prognosis for your cancer – you may be treated as passing the tests while “awaiting, receiving or recovering from" major cancer treatments such as chemo or radiotherapy.  You will still receive the ESA 50 or UC50 form, but this should be sent out much earlier. You can ignore most of those big boxes in Section Two, and just focus on the basic pages and those relating to your cancer treatments and the page where your GP or consultant signs a brief statement. Your status  - usually in the ESA Support/ LCWRA group - is confirmed as soon as this is processed, but the additional amounts attached will not kick in until the end of the normal ESA assessment phase/UC relevant period
  • Advanced , life-limiting cancers -  special rules can apply in the case of more advanced and life-limiting cancers. The same DS1500 certificate that your GP or consultant can issue to fastrack a claim for disability benefits also bypasses the WCA for ESA / UC (with limited capability) In practise, it makes sense to apply for the disability benefit first and then refer to it being with them on your ESA claim . Your eligibility is picked up from your claim form or online claim for UC. So, there is no further paperwork beyond the DS1500  You go straight into the ESA Support /UC LCWRA group  and receive the additional amounts straightaway. 

Note: UC and "special rules claims  People who qualify under this route may have chosen either to have the full information about their medical situation or prefer not to get into that conversation and focus on each day at a time – there is no “right” or “wrong” answer to this. Disability benefits and ESA respect this choice and you can let someone else sought out benefits for you. Universal Credit has not thought about this at all and nor does UC take steps to expedite payments.  You will still be waiting 5 weeks for your first UC payment. It is hoped that UC can learn from ESA and PIP to improve the processes to respect people's choices and to improve their service in difficult times.  

Next time  

Well that’s more than more than enough as this blog has had to grow on rewriting to include Universal Credit  for UC  as another limited capability benefit  

In Part 3 we will look at how ESA and UC (for limited capability ) can help  during recovery when you are ready to start easing back into work. 

Both benefits are keen to promote keeping in touch with the labour market and offering some additional incentives to dip your toe in the water by doing a few hours work as and when you are ready. Remember then, that the test for these benefits is not about being incapable of doing any work, but rather having “limited capability “ ; so, doing some work – while claiming these is not only possible but definitely encouraged.

If you have any general queries or experiences and feelings to share about ESA or Universal Credit, please post in the forums . For individual  support and advice please contact a Benefits Advisor in your nearest Maggie’s Centre . You can find your nearest Maggie’s Centre here   

(Based on an original ESA blog of June 2014, extensively rewritten and revised  July 2018) 

Useful links and further reading

External links

  • To see what a “fitness for work” certificate looks like see page 2 of the Guidance for GPs -  here.
  • An  example of an SSP1 letter giving you notice of when your SSP is due to stop -  here.
  • DWP information on SSP - here
  • DWP How to claim ESA - old and new style - here
  • DWP information on New Style ESA - here
  • Forms for claiming "New Style" ESA - here
  • DWP How to claim UC -here
  • DWP video guide to the UC claim process and what you see when claiming online - here

Other blogs in this series

  • Benefits when off sick (1) : Benefits for sickness in general, where they fit in the benefits system and other help . Statutory Sick Pay in particular - here
  • Benefits when off sick (3):  Easing back into work while on benefits for sickness - here
  • Benefits when off sick (4): Facing the full Work Capability Assessment - here
  • Benefits when off sick (5): Work requirements when claiming for sickness &  “credits only” claims-here

Other relevant blogs and mini-series you may find useful:

  • Benefits and Cancer – a useful overview and how sickness benefits fit in to the grand scheme of the benefits system and getting your full entitlement when affected by cancer – starting here
  • Benefits in Pension Age – focussing on the different benefits world after 65-ish and additional help for people affected by cancer – starting here
  • Disability Benefits – starting with AA, DLA, PIP and Cancer - here
  • Means tested benefits – a look at the traditional “legacy” means tested benefit which remain very important until March 2023 - starting here
  • Universal Credit -  introducing the new replacement for the 6 main means tested benefits for those of working age. UC aims to do things in a very different way from both the benefits it replaces and any other benefit - starting here
  • Find out more about.... Benefits and Cancer
  • Find out more about befits for... Difficulties with day to day living and getting around 

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