You can apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you’re under State Pension age and you have a disability or health condition that affects your ability to work.

ESA gives you money to help with living costs if you’re unable to work.

Most new claims are for ‘New Style’ ESA, as income related ESA is now part of Universal Credit.

To get ‘New Style’ ESA you need to have both:

  • worked as an employee or been self-employed
  • paid enough National Insurance contributions in the last 2 to 3 years

You could get Universal Credit at the same time or instead of ‘new style’ ESA. Universal Credit can help with, for example, your housing and childcare costs.

How to claim

Claim online using this link:  Employment and Support Allowance (ESA): How to claim – GOV.UK (

Call the Universal Credit helpline (see box) if:

      • you cannot make an application online
      • you’re an appointee for someone

Universal Credit helpline

Telephone: 0800 328 5644 (choose option 3)
Textphone: 0800 328 1344 (choose option 3)

If you cannot hear or speak on the phone:
Relay UK :   dial   18001 then 0800 328 5644
Video relay service for British Sign Language (BSL) users – check you can use the service

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm