Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) replaces Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance or Income Support on the grounds that you are too sick to work.

Before the changes

ESA was introduced in 2008 for new incapacity for work claimants. Previously people received Incapacity Benefit (IB), Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA) and/or Income Support (IS) on the basis that they were too sick to work.

After the changes

ESA is replacing IB/SDA/IS for existing claimants and entitlement is based upon a new, more stringent Limited Capability for Work (LCW) test. These changes began in 2012 and will be ongoing.





Important information

  • if you don't complete an ESA50 form or attend a medical if asked then you will not qualify for ESA
  • if you are terminally ill or receiving (or about to receive) chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer you should normally be treated as having LCW
  • if you are pregnant and there would be a serious threat to the health of either you or your unborn baby if you were to work then you should be treated as having LCW

What you can do

Contact the Benefits Helpline for more information about this change and advice on what your options are if you are affected.