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Benefit entitlements

I was on ESA for 18 months in the support group. I had an assessment and was told that I would remain on it. I really wanted to work as I had all my life, I was on ESA due to breast cancer, a mini stroke and osteoarthritis, I have had knees replaced, foot joints replaced and trapezium replaced. Now I have worked in a school as a teaching assistant, it was something I had done in the past and was lucky enough after 40 applications to find a suitable job in a school albeit temporary until Christmas. It was hard but I was determined to do it. Alas I have been told that my contract will not be renewed and they are taking on someone else to do my job. To say that I'm devastated is an understatement. Obviously I can't prove that it's because of my disability and/or my age but it plainly is. Can I reapply for ESA or will it have to be job seekers. I will be 60 next birthday and I know that it will be very difficult for me to get back to work now. Can I apply now, I will receive my final pay  at the end of December., or do I need to wait. My breast cancer was 2 years ago. Thank you. 


  • BenefitsTrainingCo
    BenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,628 Pioneering

    First of all, please do repost your query  in 'ask an employment adviser', because I am concerned about whether you've been discriminated against by your employer. I do know that if it is discrimination, it doesn't matter that it's a temporary job - not renewing your contract could still be unfair dismissal and disability/age discrimination, especially as they are taking on someone else. I would get advice about this as soon as you can.

    About the benefits. There are two types of benefits which could apply here, contributory and income-related. You may get one or both, depending on all your circumstances. Contributory benefits are based on national insurance, and income-related are based on your income (including your partner's, if you live with a partner).

    In some areas of the country, income-related ESA and income-related JSA have been replaced by Universal Credit. You could check whether this applies in your area by putting your postcode in the tool on this website. If it says universal credit (UC) is 'available', then it replaces the income-based benefits for people under pension age. If it says UC is available to 'some people', then you may not have to worry about it, but it will depend on all your other circumstances. 

    If you apply for ESA, then depending on where you are in the country, this might include a claim for universal credit as well. Same with JSA. With universal credit, if your final pay is due at the end of December, that would be a problem because if your last pay falls in what is called the first assessment period of your claim, you'd probably be turned down for UC and have to apply again - though it would depend on how much your pay is.

    With JSA and ESA, my guess is that you'll be treated as working if you claim them before the period covered by your last pay. Assuming your last wages covers December, then I think you probably can't claim either of these benefits before the month ends - but it would depend on all the circumstances and might be worth getting advice locally on this (eg Citizens Advice), as it's a complicated point and I wouldn't want you to lose out.

    Looking at ESA, to begin with you can get this if you are signed off work by your doctor. You'd need sick notes when you start claiming ESA, even if you don't have a job when you claim. A similar test can apply in universal credit. After a while, you have to have a medical. Unless you are still getting treatment for cancer, I don't think you can guarantee that you will be in the support group any more. But you might still get ESA based on your osteoarthritis and other problems - the test looks at what you can and cannot do.

    I would take the ESA self-test to see what you think yourself. You need 15 points to get it. If you don't think you would qualify, then it would be JSA, possibly with Universal Credit too (depending on where you live and your other circumstances).

    It's hard to give you a full answer on the forum, because to give you a comprehensive and accurate answer an adviser would need to ask lots of other questions about your work history, any savings, partner, housing costs etc. You could use the benefits calculator  to see what that comes up with.

    I suggest that you take the ESA self-test and use the calculator, and then come back to us with any further questions.

    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland


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