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Applying for benefits

Are you sick or disabled, or struggling financially? This page contains guidance on various welfare benefits including tips for applying. 

Claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a benefit for those who cannot work because they are sick or disabled. ESA is a contribution-based benefit, meaning that eligibility is not determined by your earnings but your national insurance contributions over the last 2 tax years. If you are unsure if you have made enough contributions, you can check at Check your National Insurance record - GOV.UK (

ESA is paid at a set fortnightly rate, which can be found here on the website. Applying for the ESA can take a few weeks until you receive your first payment. 

 You then undergo an assessment to determine your capability for work. If you are found to be unable to do any work at all, you will be put in the support group and your payments will increase. This assessment process takes 3 months.

Tips for Applying

  • You cannot receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and ESA at the same time. If your SSP has ended, you will need your SSP1 form to show this. An SSP1 is a form from your employer stating the date that your Statutory Sick Pay has ended.
  • If your SSP has not yet ended, find out that date that it will end. You can put in your claim for ESA up to 3 months before your SSP ends to ensure that you receive it as soon as possible.
  • ESA can be backdated for up to 3 months. If your SSP ended less than 3 months ago, you can request that they backdate your claim, allowing it to start from the date that your SSP stopped.
  • You need a fit note (also known as a sick note) from your GP stating that you are unable to work.
  • Application is completed via an online form. If you cannot do this, look on the website for other ways to apply.

Useful Links

Help with benefits

If you're confused by the benefits system, have questions about changes to your benefits, or need to challenge a benefits decision, we can help.

Claiming Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

PIP helps with the extra costs of living with a disability or health condition. You can claim PIP even if you are working or have savings. PIP is not just for physical conditions and is not based on what you have or what medication you take. It is based on how your condition affects you on a day to day and what support you need, even if you are not currently getting that support. 

PIP is paid every 4 weeks and is paid based on two elements: Daily living and mobility. Daily living is based on your capability to complete daily tasks, such as washing and bathing or preparing food, while mobility is based on your ability to get around, such as planning journeys and travelling to places that you don’t know. Both can be paid at a standard or enhanced rate. Click here to see the current PIP rates.

PIP is claimed by filling out 2 forms. These can be done online or delivered via post. It can take up to 6 months for you to receive a decision. This process includes a medical assessment to see how your condition affects you. For further information on the claims process click here.

Top Tips for Applying

  • Call to request a claim form. You claim will be treated as having started on the day that you called as opposed to the day that they accept your application, and you will be paid from this date.
  • Get medical evidence to support your application.
  • Seek support if you need help with the application process.
  • Read the descriptors carefully and ensure that you address them in your application.
  • PIP can be backdated

Useful Links

Challenging benefits

Challenging a benefits decision

If you don't agree with a decision made about your benefits, find out how you can challenge it.

Claiming Disability Living Allowance for Children

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a benefit to aid with the costs of living with a child that has difficulties walking or needs much more looking after than a child of the same age who does not have a disability. DLA is paid in two components: care and mobility. Once your child is assessed, they will be awarded one, or both of these. Each is paid at a higher, middle or lower rate and received in a single payment to your bank or building society account every 4 weeks.

DLA is claimed using a form. While you can claim by printing the form, it is best to call and request that a form be sent to you. This way, you claim begins from the date that you called as opposed to the date that they receive your form. If possible, you should also send it with recorded delivery for proof of when it was sent and received. The application process usually takes about 8 weeks.

Key facts about DLA:

  • It is not limited to physical conditions, and you may be eligible even if you do not consider your child to be disabled.
  • Your child must have been disabled or had the condition for at least 3 months, and you must expect it to last for 6 more.
  • A diagnosis is not required to receive DLA, thought it helps.

For further information on DLA follow the links below:

Appealing benefits

Appealing a benefits decision

If your Mandatory Reconsideration is refused, you can appeal to a tribunal if you think the decision is unfair or incorrect.

Financial Wellbeing

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