ESA support group award (What is the length of time?)

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In this article we will be exploring the length of time that you can avail the ESA support group award.

We will also explore what the ESA support group award is and the value of the award. We will also briefly look into the process of applying for this award and the eligibility criteria needed to avail it. 

What is the length of time that you can avail the ESA support group award?

If you have been deemed eligible for the new style or contributory ESA after the assessment, you will be given the ESA support group award for a minimum of 3 months or indefinitely- as long as you continue to meet the qualifying criteria that makes you eligible for the financial support. 

However, there is also a possibility that you will be given an award of 3 years depending on your medical condition and personal context in case you are part of the ESA support group that does not have work-related activity.

What is the ESA support group award?

The ESA support group award refers to the financial support that is given to claimants of the ESA after their initial assessment of their work related capabilities.

According to the Department of Work and Pensions, If it is decided at the work capability assessment that you have a limited capability for work-related activity, you will be put in the support group of claimants. 

And in this group, you can either volunteer to take part in work-related activities or choose not to while also receiving an employment and support allowance (ESA) from the UK government.

What impacts the length of the ESA support group award?

After the person deemed themselves eligible for an ESA claim, and has filed their ESA claim with the necessary documents , they will be required to be part of a work capability assessment.

During this assessment, which can be done at an official location or over the phone incase of mobility issues of the claimant, the medical professional will go over the medical condition surrounding the claimants  disability of mental and physical health condition.

These assessments are usually done by a private contractor that usually does health assessments for those receiving work benefits from the DWP.

Here are two factors that impact the duration of when you can avail the award:

Based on your group

Based on the assessment the length or period of time that the claimant can avail the ESA award and support depends on their medical condition/needs which puts them into one of two groups. 

If you are part of the ESA group without work-related activity, then you can avail your awards for a minimum of 3 months and upto 3 years or indefinitely provided that you meet the criteria of eligibility. 

If you are part of the group that involves work-related activity there is a limit to the duration of a couple of months.


Now, another factor that impacts the amount of time you get to avail this award depends on the assessments that you have to undergo every few months. 

Usually, the DWP does not put exact dates for these assessments so you will have to make enquiries regarding when your reassessment is due. Each award can either go overtime or be under that time until your next re-assessment.

The DWP sets a review date in between a minimum of 3 months and a maximum of 3 years for the claimants in the Support group. Depending on this review, your claim to the award might change. 

If you miss your review or refuse to comply with the review, the Claim you have to the awards will be closed and you will no longer be able to claim it.

How much does one get in the ESA support group award?

The amount you get as part of the ESA group support award will depend on what stage your application is at, as well as things like your age and whether you’re able to get back into work.

If you get ‘new style’ ESA support, you’ll earn Class 1 National Insurance credits including some benefits in the future and for pension.

Neither your or your partner’s savings or income will affect how much ‘new style’ ESA you’re paid. 

While your claim is being assessed you will get what is called the “Assessment rate” for 13 weeks to help sustain you when your claim is being processed by the government. 

This particular rate is:

  • up to £59.20 a week if you’re aged under 25
  • up to £74.70 a week if you’re aged 25 or over

Now, if your application is taking longer than 13 weeks, you’ll continue getting the ‘assessment rate’ until you get a decision or until your ESA is due to end.

If you have not received a decision after a year, your payments will end after a year so you should continue contacting the ESA department until you get an assessment.

After you’re assessed and you have been deemed eligible by the department to receive this award, You’ll be placed into one of 2 groups.

If you’re able to get back into work in the future, you’ll be put into the work-related activity group. Otherwise, you’ll be put into the support group where there is no work-related activity required.

The rates that you will be awarded are:

  • up to £74.70 a week if you’re in the work-related activity group
  • up to £114.10 a week if you’re in the support group and you’re also entitled to the enhanced disability premium.

All of the payments occur every 2 weeks and all benefits are paid into your bank, building society or credit union account.

What are the Eligibility criteria to join the ESA Support Group award?

The eligibility criteria for availing ESA includes the following. These criteria have been referred from the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) Gov.UK website.

You can apply for ‘new style’ Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you’re under State Pension age and you have a disability or health condition that affects how much you can work.

You also need to have both:

  • worked as an employee or have been self-employed
  • paid enough National Insurance contributions, usually in the last 2 to 3 years – National Insurance credits also count

You are eligible if you get Universal Credit, you could get ‘new style’ ESA at the same time however, you get both benefits, your Universal Credit payment is reduced by the amount you get for ‘new style’ ESA.

You can apply for ‘new style’ ESA up to 3 months before your SSP ends. You’ll start getting ‘new style’ ESA as soon as your SSP ends.

You can apply whether you’re in or out of work. There are conditions to working while claiming ESA.

You can apply for ‘new style’ ESA if you’re unable to claim Statutory Sick Pay and one of the following applies:

  • you or your child might have COVID-19 or you’re recovering from it
  • you or your child are self-isolating because you came into contact with someone who might have COVID-19
  • you’ve been advised by your doctor or healthcare professional to self-isolate before going into hospital for surgery
  • you’re quarantining due to rules about returning from abroad

If you’re claiming ESA because of COVID-19, you’ll need to give evidence to support your claim.

Note that You cannot get ‘new style’ ESA or is not eligible if you:

  • claim Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • claim Statutory Sick Pay

What is the process of  applying for an ESA award?

The process of applying for ESA follows the following steps:

You need to check for eligibility.

If you are eligible, you can start your claim by applying online via this link.

You will need the following documents:

  • Your National Insurance number
  • Bank account number and sort code
  • Name, address and phone number of your doctor
  • Details of income if working
  • The date your Statutory Sick Pay ends if you are claiming it

Next, you have to Attend the appointment with your work coach where you must form what is called the Claimant Commitment which details the actions you need to take to get payment. 

The Department of Work and Pensions include a medical assessment in the process of checking for the eligibility for ESA applicants. 

Some ESA assessment of mental health questions that are generally asked in the assessment interview include questions related to your medical condition such as:

  • What are your medical conditions?
  • How long have you had these conditions?
  • How do these conditions affect you?

Based on your assessment you will be assigned to two groups- 

A work-related activity group: This is to prepare employees who with some support are able to return to work.

A support group: This group is for people who are unable to return to work due to their illness of disability.

At times the DWP also do at-home assessments if the claimant’s illnesses or disability make it difficult for them to travel and move; however, they will ask individuals to provide information from a medical professional supporting their request for a home visit.

If you fail to attend an appointment for a medical assessment, they will investigate your reasons for not attending. If the reason is not a good cause, ESA will be disallowed and benefits stopped.

Then, you will get a letter telling you if you’ll get ‘new style’ ESA and how much.

Once you start getting your ESA, you will have to Give updates about your health and circumstances. 


In this article we have explored the length of time that you can avail the ESA support group award.

We have also explored what the ESA support group award is and the value of the award. We will also briefly look into the process of applying for this award and the eligibility criteria needed to avail it. 


Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Gov.UK. Retrieved on 4th Dec 2021.

What is an ESA assessment? Healthassured. Retrieved on 3rd dec 2021.

ESA Support Group: Eligibility and rates.homecare uk. Retrieved on 3rd dec 2021.

FAQ on ESA support group length of award

How often is the ESA support group reviewed?

ESA Support Group claims will have periodical medical assessment reviews every 1, 2 or 3 years.

The claimant will be informed a few months before the re-assessment. 

How long does it take to get a decision from ESA 2019?

It can take several weeks or months for the DWP to make a decision.

If you haven’t heard anything after 8 weeks, you could contact them to ask why you haven’t had a decision letter yet.

What is the ESA support group?

The ESA support group is for claimants who the DWP considers to have such severe health problems that there is no current prospect of their being able to undertake work or work-related activities.

Can I get free dental treatment on the ESA support group?

Yes, you are entitled to free dental treatment if you are included to the Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.

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