Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
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ESA for students on temporary leave of absence

MrThirtyMrThirty Member Posts: 2 Listener
Hi guys, I was hoping I could get some advice on an esa claim.

This past year I have been studying at univerisity, however while on my summer holidays I began suffering some ill health; after about 6 weeks of pain I decided to not return this year as I feared I wouldnt be able to cope with the course and being away from home. I sold my possesions and used my savings to pay my way (living with mum) until I ran out of money and made a claim for esa. I had suffered for about 10 weeks before I made a claim.

The DWP asked for an abandonment letter from my university to confirm im no longer a student before they would grant me any esa. I told my uni that I would like to return in sep 2019 by which time i hope to feel better, so they granted me a temporary leave of absence for a year. Once I had provided the uni letter, I rang the DWP and I was told my claim had been rejected because they still consider me a student as I intend to return in 2019. Is it correct that I am, in the DWP’s eyes, still a student? I am not paying any tuition fees, am not recieving any student loan. Ive never claimed any type of benefit before. Im 22 and have worked and paid tax whilst I have been out of education. 

What are my options here? Do I have to quit the course to recieve esa and then reapply for 2019 entry? I achieved good grades and I enjoy the course, I definitely want to complete it.

Thabk you for reading.


  • Pippa_AlumniPippa_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 5,851 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @MrThirty, and a warm welcome to the community!

    I'm afraid I don't know the answer to this myself, however hopefully some of our more experienced contributors will hopefully be in touch soon and able to advise. I wonder if @Gill_Scope could offer any guidance here?
  • topshoestopshoes Member Posts: 442 Pioneering
    edited November 2018
    Hi @MrThirty yes  I think you will find the DWP are right that you are still a Student untill you leave uni .only know that as my son was at uni for 6 years.
  • MrThirtyMrThirty Member Posts: 2 Listener
    edited November 2018
    Looks like ive found the answer to my question. I’ll leave this here for anyone in the same situation but the answer is you must fully withdraw from the course to receive esa. It is stated in the esa regulations legislation; search: R(IS)25/95 ESA in google and you will find the specifics on abandonment.
  • topshoestopshoes Member Posts: 442 Pioneering
    All the very best to you @MrThirty
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 273 Pioneering
    Hi @MrThirty

    I agree. It's only students who also have a disability benefit  - Personal Independence Payment (PIP) usually - who can get get income-related ESA. (Some other students, for example some parents, can get income support).

    If you take time out from a course, for example due to illness, but haven't abandoned it, you count as a student, so cannot get income-related ESA or universal credit, unless you have a disability benefit.

    Once you are well, you should be able to claim JSA and housing benefit,  or more likely now, universal credit, whilst you wait to resume your course. You'd need to be looking for work in this case.

    Best wishes to you anyway, I hope that you are better soon. 


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