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‘My Employment and Support Allowance has ended - help!’

If Universal Credit has been introduced where you live, some of the information in this set of pages may not apply to you (although in practice many of the things, including the Work Capability Assessment itself, are the same. For an introduction to Universal Credit, click here

It's obviously a shock when the Employment and Support Allowance you are relying on suddenly stops. But it's very important you try to stay calm. What you need to find out is why?

If your Employment and Support Allowance has stopped, you should normally have received a letter from the DWP telling you why. If you have not received any letter, or you do not understand the letter, you should contact contact them to find out why

icon-warning1.jpgIf you are not sure why your Employment and Support Allowance has been stopped, don't just guess! If you guess wrong you might take the wrong action, which might make your situation worse

Here's the most likely reasons...

The DWP has assessed you and decided that you are fit for work; (or, in their language, you 'do not have a limited capability for work')

This will normally have happened after you have completed a form called an ESA50 asking you about your how your problems affect you. You may also have been asked to attend a medical.

The DWP should have sent you a letter telling you that they have made this decision.

If this is what has happened to you, go to ‘I've been found fit for work and my ESA has ended’ for more information.

The DWP thinks you have failed to complete and return a form asking you about your health problems (an ESA50), or you have failed to attend a medical examination

There are lot of different reasons why this might have happened. Maybe you made a mistake: perhaps you didn't get round to completing the form, or you forgot about the appointment. Or perhaps the DWP, or Maximus (who now carry out the assessments) made a mistake, and sent letters to the wrong address.

Whatever the reason, click here for more information: ‘The DWP didn't get my ESA50, or I missed my medical’

Your entitlement to contribution based Employment and Support Allowance has ended because you have been on it for 365 days

Sometimes the first time people realise that they are getting time-limited Employment and Support Allowance is when it stops.
This is often a problem for people whose partner is working, or who have other income, say a work pension. Because of this other income they do not qualify for income based Employment and Support Allowance because their income is too high.

Contribution based Employment and Support Allowance is paid whatever your other income is, because of national insurance contributions you have made in the past. However, unless you have been placed in the support group, you can usually only get it for 365 days.

For more information about this, click here: ‘I have been getting ESA for 365 days’

You have been sanctioned, for failing to take part in a work-focused interview or work-related activity

If you are in the work related activity group you will be required to attend work-focused interviews and, sometimes, work-related activities (note that they cannot force you to work or apply for work).

If you don't attend a work-focused interview or a work-related activity your benefit won't stop completely, but it's almost as bad. You are likely to be sanctioned, which will mean having your benefit reduced by £73.10 per week.

The length of the sanction period can be as little as one week, but if they are asking you to do something they can sanction you until you do whatever it is, however long that takes.

I will be writing more detailed information about this subject soon (hopefully by the end of May 2015)