Can I claim ESA if my partner works full time? 

In this blog post, titled “Can I claim ESA if my partner works full time?” we investigate whether someone with a partner can claim ESA benefits, what is ESA and what types of ESA are there. 

Can I claim ESA if my partner works full time?

You can claim ESA if your partner works full or part-time, as your partner’s income and savings won’t directly affect your ‘new style ESA’ award.

But all depends on the type of ESA you are applying for.

For instance, your partner’s work hours will not affect your entitlement to Contributory ESA, which is based on your national insurance contribution record. But it could affect the amount you are entitled to.

If you have savings of less than £16,000 and if you have a partner or civil partner, and they work for less than 24 hours a week on average, you may also apply for Income-related ESA. 

To keep getting ESA you must report any change in your (or your partner’s) circumstances.

For instance, if you are claiming Income-related ESA and you have a partner, it’s important to contact the ESA Centre if their circumstances change. For example:

  • if they start work
  • receive a pension
  • receive any other benefits. 

Keep reading to find more about the ESA payments and types. 

What is Employment and Support Allowance

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) offers support and financial help so you can do suitable work if you are able to.

It gives you access to a Work Coach and services including employment, training, and condition management support to help you manage your illness or disability at work.

Who is eligible for ESA?

You may be able to claim ESA if any of the following apply:

  • your Statutory Sick Pay has ended or you cannot get it
  • you are employed, self-employed, unemployed or a student on Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment
  • you have been getting Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and have not gone back to work for your employer because you have an illness or disability which affects your ability to work
  • you are under State Pension age
  • you are not getting Jobseeker’s Allowance

You must also either:

  • have had an illness or disability which affects your ability to work
  • be unable to work for two or more days out of seven consecutive days
  • be getting special medical treatment

Types of ESA that you can claim:

  • new style
  • contribution-based
  • income-related

‘New style’ ESA

‘New style’ ESA works in the same way as contribution-based ESA.

Your partner’s income and savings won’t affect how much new style ESA you’re paid.

You can get “New Style” ESA on its own or at the same time as Universal Credit.

If you get both at the same time, your new style ESA payment will be deducted from your Universal Credit payment – you aren’t guaranteed to get any extra money.

Contribution-based ESA

You may be entitled to this if you have paid enough National Insurance contributions.

Income-related ESA

You may be entitled to income-related ESA if you do not have enough money coming in or you have not paid enough National Insurance contributions, and you satisfy the entitlement conditions.

This means that you have savings of less than £16,000 and if you have a partner or civil partner, they work for less than 24 hours a week on average.

Is ESA benefit affected by hours worked?

You normally can’t do any work while claiming Employment and Support Allowance.  

However, you can do what’s known as ‘permitted work’ and remain entitled to incapacity-based benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

If you claim Income-related ESA your partner can work up to 24 hours doing any type of paid work but their earnings could affect the amount you are entitled to.

However, your partner’s work hours will not affect your entitlement to Contributory ESA, which is based on your national insurance contribution record.

What is permitted work?

The general rule is that you can’t work while claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

However, there are exceptions and some kinds of ‘permitted work’ that are allowed.

Exceptions

The following kinds of work are allowed:

  • Work as a councilor
  • Work as a member of a First Tier Tribunal (up to one full day or two half days a week)
  • The care of a relative or another person living with you
  • Work done while pursuing self-employment (in certain cases where assistance is received)
  • Voluntary work (not for a relative)
  • Unpaid work experience approved by the Department for Work and Pensions.

‘Permitted work’ is also allowed.

In some cases, this can be any type of work and you can do this for an unlimited period of time but there are limitations on your earnings and hours.

You must tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in advance if you want to do permitted work. 

Permitted work:

  • Any work as long as you work for less than 16 hours a week (average) and do not earn more than £131.50 a week (the permitted work higher limit) and have completed a permitted work form and submitted it to your local Jobcentre.
  • Work as part of a treatment program under medical supervision while in a hospital or attending hospital – as long as you don’t earn more than £131.50 a week
  • Any work, for an unlimited period, as long as you don’t earn more than £20 a week (the permitted work lower limits)
  • Supported work (supervised by someone employed to find work for disabled people), for an unlimited period, provided you do not earn more than £131.50 a week.

If you were to earn more than the limit in any one week, you would not be entitled to ESA for that week.

How to claim Employment and Support Allowance

To claim ESA call Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688 (textphone 0800 023 4888).

They’ll ask you questions over the phone and fill in the form for you.

Alternatively, you can download a claim form from GOV.UK You’ll need to include a medical certificate (called a ‘fit note’) from your GP and provide your GP contact details.

Contact your local Age UK for advice on making a claim if you’re not sure and need extra help.

After you apply you’ll be invited to attend a medical assessment called a ‘work capability assessment’ and fill in a ‘limited capacity for work’ questionnaire that looks at how your illness or disability affects what you do.

After this, you’ll be told whether you’re entitled to ESA.

If you’re entitled to ESA, you’ll be placed in the ‘work-related activity group’ or the ‘support group’.

How much money could you get

Every claim for ESA is medically assessed by a healthcare professional and you receive £73.10 a week for the first 13 weeks.

If the outcome of your assessment is you are eligible for ESA, you are put into a group, which in turn affects how much ESA you are paid.

You may be put into either:

  • the work-related activity group: This is for people who will prepare to return to work and will get some support to do that.
  • the support group: This is for people who are unable to return to work due to their illness or disability.

In the work-related activity group, you could get payments up to one year of £73.10 per week.

The support group has no time limit and you could get up to £111.65 a week.

Conclusions

In this blog post, titled “Can I claim ESA if my partner works full time?” we investigated whether someone with a partner can claim ESA benefits, what is ESA and what types of ESA are there. 

Don’t forget to check our FAQ section for more information on claiming ESA while in a couple. 

Please feel free to comment on the content or ask any questions in the comments section below.

FAQ on CanI claim ESA if my partner works full time

Can you get ESA if your partner works full time?

You can get ESA if your partner works full time, but it could affect the amount of money you are receiving. If you claim Income-related ESA your partner can work up to 24 hours doing any type of paid work but their earnings could affect the amount you are entitled to.

However, your partner’s work hours will not affect your entitlement to Contributory ESA, which is based on your national insurance contribution record.

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Can you get ESA if you have a partner?

You can get ESA if you have a partner.

You can’t get income-related ESA if you have a partner who’s working 24 hours a week or more, and you can’t get either type of ESA if you or your partner get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).

How much can I earn before it affects my benefits?

How much you can earn before it affects my benefits is up to £20 per week. You should let the local Benefits Agency know that you are working, and earning, just-in-case someone else does it for you.

What is the highest rate of ESA?

The highest rate of ESA after 3 April 2017, is up to £73.10 a week.

You can get up to £102.15 a week if you claimed before 3 April 2017, or you’ve been moved onto ESA automatically from Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disability Allowance or Income Support.

How many hours can my partner work before it affects my benefits?

Before it affects your benefits, your partner can work for, on average, up to 24 hours a week. 

What counts as living together?

Living together generally means to live together as a couple without being married.

Couples who live together are sometimes called common-law partners. This is just another way of saying a couple are living together.

Recommendations

  1. Employment and Support Allowance: A Guide to ESA for People with a Disability or Long Term Health Condition, Their Families, Carers and Advisors 
  2. Insider’s Guide to Government Benefits
  3. Social Security, Medicare and Government Pensions: Get the Most Out of Your Retirement and Medical Benefits
  4. Positive Behavior Supports for Adults with Disabilities in Employment, Community, and Residential Settings
  5. Limited Capability – The Support Group (Social Insecurity Book 5)
  6. Investigation into errors in Employment and Support Allowance

References

Turn2us.org.uk

Ageuk.org.uk

Nidirect.gov.uk

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