Am I Eligible for Income-Based ESA and/or DSA? — Scope | Disability forum
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Am I Eligible for Income-Based ESA and/or DSA?

dylan9966 Member Posts: 2 Listener
Hello all,

I'll be starting my first degree in October at the Open University. Due to how the government treats distance learning courses (which I don't agree with), I'll only be eligible for the part-time maintenance loan, even if I decide to study full-time.

I'm 23 and I'm under an ongoing investigation at a couple of different hospitals to diagnose my health condition. There is a family history of Marfan syndrome-like symptoms (my father has been hospitalised and has had numerous surgeries) and my cardiac professor has indicated that I suffer from spontaneous pneumothoraces, and that I show physical signs of the syndrome as well. I was recently discharged by my pulmonary consultant, and upon explaining this to my professor, he was deeply concerned. Currently, I'm under cardiac investigation through my professor, before he will help me in seeking further pulmonary-related investigations.

Back in February, I tried applying for PIP and was rejected because I could complete the tasks that the assessor asked. While walking, I find myself experiencing shortness of breath relatively quickly. Under the mobility section of the PIP assessment, it was stated that I passed the criteria in order to not be eligible for anything. What made the situation worse for me was that my assessor apparently didn't understand that there are several types of pneumothorax; she was under the impression that if I hadn't been hospitalised that I hadn't witnessed any chest complications. This deeply stressed me as these people are supposed to be qualified health specialists.

I come from a low-income family. I wanted to know whether I would be eligible for either income-based ESA, or DSA, or perhaps both?

I have been told by my professor that I'm capable for work, but that I'm strictly unable to do anything that would put physical stress on my body. Would this mean that I pass the "limited capability for work" criteria for ESA?

Many thanks for your help.


  • Topkitten
    Topkitten Member Posts: 1,285 Pioneering
    The only way to really find out is to apply and see. You could try contacting the CAB for help and to get their opinion but unfortunately low income is not in itself a reason to get help for further education.

    "I'm on the wrong side of heaven and the righteous side of hell" - from Wrong side of heaven by Five Finger Death Punch.
  • dylan9966
    dylan9966 Member Posts: 2 Listener
    Thanks for your response.

    I've just found out that my area has switched to Universal Credits, and that ESA can no longer be applied for. I'm not sure how that will affect things.

    I'm predominantly seeking an application for it as I feel like I pass the criteria to be considered "limited capability for work." I just feel like input from others would be helpful and appreciated.

    My concern is that they will ignore my GP and professor again, and repeat the way they handled my PIP application.  :|
  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 273 Pioneering
    Hi dylan9966

    Good to see you on the online community.

    It can be very difficult for prospective students to find out about benefit entitlements and this may be partly because it is really complicated. 

    You can apply for universal credit (UC) as a student, if you have limited capability for work and have a disability benefit. I think therefore you need to have another go at getting PIP. 

    Universal credit doesn't recognise students even those with PIP as necessarily having limited capability for work, so it is important to research how you qualify for ESA as you will need to go through the ESA work capability assessment for UC, at week 14 of your claim, as you suggest.

    Most people claiming UC have to satisfy work -related requirements, but you don't have to satisfy work-related requirements if you are a student with a student loan that is taken into account as income. 

    Your student finance income, although a loan, is taken into account as income. A few elements - books, equipment, travel - are disregarded, then the remainder is divided by 12 and taken into account in every month of your UC claim as income.

    With UC, as you probably know, your entitlement to help with rent is paid as part of universal credit, not housing benefit, which is being abolished. So this makes things really difficult for students if, as you say, you are not from a high income family. 

    Universal credit isn't fully rolled out yet. I hope that student unions in areas already affected may be on the ball with this to offer advice. DO contact the Scope helpline  if you are unable to get any advice elsewhere. Although we can't undertake case work, we are quite well informed to  enable us to help you to sort things out. 

    Another source of information is the Disabled Students Helpline, part of Disability Rights UK, though I understand that they have only limited resources too. Their phone number s 0330 995 0414 and they re open 11 am to 1 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Another source of information can be your student union. 

    It may be worth seeing your MP about UC for students, as it is arguable that the law needs to be changed on this, so that students who may well be unable to get part-time work to help them through university are more protected from rent arrears, as they were with the old system. 

    Best wishes

    Benefits and Fiance Information Specilasit
    Scope Helpline
    Tel: 0808 800 3333



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