Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
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Insufficient NI contributions

Hello, I wonder if anyone can help me.  I was medically retired due to ill health 9 years ago.  I have had 3 heart attacks, the last one in 2020 which has limited my ability to do daily activities as well as my mobility even further.  I'm 59 and receive a small pension.  I didn't apply for any benefits 9 years ago, but now need help. I've just applied for ESA and have been told I'm not eligible because I've not paid enough contributions.  Is there anything I can do to appeal?  I've paid 35 years of NI, but obviously nothing in the last 9 years.  Thank you


  • woodbinewoodbine Community Co-Production Group Posts: 4,428 Disability Gamechanger
    hi @Tonyjohn1961 that's one of the problems with not applying for benefits when you should, i assume you are 59? do you have a personal DC pension that you could access?
    Have you looked into PIP? or UC?
    "Putting a child into care, isn't caring for a child" (T.Rhattigan)
  • chiariedschiarieds Community Co-Production Group Posts: 9,114 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @Tonyjohn1961 - & welcome. I'm afraid you can't claim New Style ESA without NI contributions from recent years, as you've found. Please see the following for confirmation:  https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance/eligibility
    As you mention your health is affecting activities of daily living & mobility, Personal Independence Payment (PIP) may be an option. Please see: https://www.gov.uk/pip    Also have a look at the following activities/descriptors to see what is looked at with PIP, & the points that may be awarded: https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/asset-library/Scores-for-PIP-Descriptors-2020.pdf
  • wilkowilko Member Posts: 2,353 Disability Gamechanger
    @Tonyjohn1961, Hello and welcome to the community. I have to agree with @woodbine, not claiming state benefits that you where entitled to claim is a falsehood thing to think or not do. You could have claimed ESA. And like me had your rent and council tax paid plus I got NI credits added to my account so I have paid 50 years towards my state Pension. Having been pointed in the right direction by CAB for the ESA and PIP I have had more than my fair share of benefits.
  • Tonyjohn1961Tonyjohn1961 Member Posts: 3 Listener
    Thank you for your responses. 
    I was silly not to apply, I was entitled but never knew it would affect any future benefits or pension.  I now owe so many years of NI contributions which I have to pay in order to receive ESA.   
    I’ve applied for PIP & sfyer a difficult assessment scored 0 points.  Not much I can do now.  Thanks again 
  • calcotticalcotti Member Posts: 2,155 Pioneering
    edited March 27
    Tonyjohn1961 said: I now owe so many years of NI contributions which I have to pay in order to receive ESA.   
    Paying for additional years of NI will not entitle you to ESA. To help towards ESA you need to have Class 1 (employed contributions) or Class (self employed contributions) for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 tax years. Any voluntary NI contributions you pay will be Class 3 contributions and these count for your State Pension but not ESA.

    If you are registered as self employed for those years you can pay voluntary Class 2 contributions which would count but as you say you have been medically retired  for 9 years I assume that is not the case.

    So do not pay NI contributions in the believe that this'll enable you to claim ESA.

    You may wish to get a State Pension forecast in order to see how many more years of credits/contributions you need (if any) in order to get a full pension.

    Now you have applied for ESA, if you have the assessment and are found to have Limited capability for Work, although you will not be paid ESA, you will at least get Class 1 NI credits towards your pension if you need them.
    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • Caz_AlumniCaz_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 626 Pioneering
    Hi @Tonyjohn1961,

    Welcome to the community. Thanks for joining us and it's good to have you on board :)

    It looks like you've been quite busy already getting some answers to your original post? Hopefully, the responses from our community members have helped to clarify things for you - though it looks like they might have confirmed what you already knew, maybe?

    Do please keep talking to us though, if you have any more questions or we can help you with anything else.

    @Caz_Scope :)
    Online Community Coordinator (she/her)

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  • Tonyjohn1961Tonyjohn1961 Member Posts: 3 Listener
    Thank you so much everyone- I really appreciate all the advice.  
  • calcotticalcotti Member Posts: 2,155 Pioneering
    Adding to this. I you are on a low income and your savings are less than £16,000 you may be entitled to Universal Credit from DWP to top up your income and possibly Council Tax Reduction from your local authority to help with Council tax. If you've a health condition that limits your ability to work that will increase UC entitlement. UC will give you Class 3 N credits. Try a benefits calculator https://www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators. If you have a partner your entitlement is based on joint circumstances and for UC yo would both have to claim.
    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • calcotticalcotti Member Posts: 2,155 Pioneering
    woodbine said:
    hi @Tonyjohn1961 that's one of the problems with not applying for benefits when you should, 
    It's one of the problems that the benefits system is poorly understood and sometimes to get the best results requires a knowledge of the rules which most people have no reason to have. All to often people will, for the best of reasons, scrape by on their existing means, use up any savings etc and only then turn to the benefits system. The political mood music around benefits does not encourage people to immediately turn to benefits in the knowledge that that they are there to support people in times of need not just as a last resort.
    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,564 Disability Gamechanger
    Beautifully put.
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