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ESA support group and studying


I currently receive ESA support group (which apparently is conts based as its support group), PIP and separate UC top up on the ESA, where I did not have to have another medical for the UC.  I am unsure why they ESA and UC are separate, but UC look at what ESA pay me and then they top it up due to the disability element.

I was originally awarded for 18 months, had a reassessment done just after 12 months and was awarded again for 12 months. I am due to have medicals again for PIP and ESA in the next few months I think.  

I would like information about studying part time distance learning and claiming the above.  Am I able to study part time at home without benefits being affected as its home study?  Would any tuition fee loans or maintenance or support loans count?  The study would be less than 16 hours per week on an access course worth 30 credits.

When I have spoken to the advisers on the phone previously about trying to work part time they said I would have to close the claim, but I know this is not true as several forums mentioning working part time whilst on ESA support group.  So I would also like to know about working part time and support group.

Do I need to request a call back from an ESA decision maker rather than speaking to the normal advisers on the ESA line or is what they are saying true?  


  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 23,807 Disability Gamechanger

    Firstly, being a student. The ESA you're claiming is Contributions based so this won't be affected by being a student or by any maintenance loans/ students loans you receive and as you're claiming PIP then you'll be able to continue to claim this.

    Universal credit, is a means tested benefit so any maintenance loans and some other student loans you receive will affect the amount you can clam and will reduce your UC £1 for £1. If it's available for you to claim if you decide not to claim it then it will still be deducted £1 for £1 from your UC amount. For more advice on this you will need to ring the disabled students helpline because students and benefits are extremely complicated.

    Working and claiming ESA, yes there's permitted work which you can do but you mustn't earn anymore than £131.50 per week and work less than 16 hours. BUT as you're also claiming UC then permitted work doesn't exist. For UC you'll have a work allowance, what your work allowance is will depend on your circumstances. If you claim the housing element then your work allowance will be £287 per month. If you don't claim the housing element then your work allowance will be £503 per month. This means that you can earn that amount of money before you start seeing the 63% deductions in your UC amounts. However, because you're claiming both then which one will apply i'm not sure.

    Having said all of this, you do have to be careful what work you do and what studying you do because if what you do contradicts the reasons why you're claiming any of the benefits (including PIP) then they can re-assess you early and it can go against you.

    You also need to get permission before you do any work while claiming ESA.

    Hope this helps.

  • Si123
    Si123 Member Posts: 3 Listener
    Thanks for the information Poppy.

    Yes it is confusing which applies as I'm on both of them. I got UC without attending a new medical as I had just had medical on ESA (new style I think) and was put in support group I'm also not expected to look for work under UC.  Not sure why it was all done separately instead of just under a UC medical.  

    I was anticipating the future asking about working part time on the benefits, but do you know if I study part time would I then be put in to LCW group under UC and expected to start preparing to go to work?  The same for ESA, would I move from support group to LCW?  I'm not sure if you're able to get UC when studying part time unless you're also available to work.

    Thanks for the helpline number I might give it a call next week.

  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 23,807 Disability Gamechanger
    ESA LCWRA (Support Group) is the same as UC LCWRA, which is why you were given LCWRA on UC, this just tops up your income.

    You will still need to ring the helpline and ask them what student loans affect your UC payments because UC is means tested. Your New style ESA isn't means tested and won't be affected.

    Whether what you do will go against you the next time you're re-assessed will totally depend on the reasons why you're claiming LCWRA and no one on an internet forum can answer that question i'm afraid. The same as working.
  • Si123
    Si123 Member Posts: 3 Listener
    Thanks for your help
  • forgoodnesssake
    forgoodnesssake Member Posts: 386 Pioneering
    I am unsure what "new style" ESA is, particularly if it is not means tested.  My son is a student, on ESA income related (support group) but currently getting nothing because his student maintenance loan is deemed income that takes him above the threshold, even though it is almost all taken up by his student accommodation..leaving him with approx £44 per week for everything else.  Have been told it will be re-instated next academic summer vacation (ie the period not covered by student loan)
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 23,807 Disability Gamechanger
    I am unsure what "new style" ESA is, particularly if it is not means tested. 
    It's the same as the old "contributions based ESA" both are not means tested.
  • forgoodnesssake
    forgoodnesssake Member Posts: 386 Pioneering
    Ah, thanks.  Doesn't apply then for my son.


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