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What's the support group about? (ESA)

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru

After three months of waiting and being in the work related activity group for this benefit. I received a long awaited letter today that says I have been placed in the support group and I am happy but I don't know what to expect? Has anyone been in the support group or currently is on employment and support allowance? Could you shed some light on what to expect? The only thing I know that I can't go to the Jobcentre for any appointments which is actually a relief because I find it really hard to put across what I want. I have requested reasons (descriptors I meet) as to why they have put me in this group and should get them soon in the post. I have Asperger's syndrome, anxiety and panic attacks.

Also if I was to start uni would this affect my claim to being in the support group? Could they count this as income?
Thank you for any help in advance.



  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    In terms of uni, my understanding is that you can't be paid ESA if you're on a course that is classed as full-time. This is not about the number of hours of contact time (teaching) you have, but about the hours you're expected to work. It's the same principle as the limit on the number of hours you spend volunteering; the theory is that if you're well enough to volunteer for over 15 hours, you're well enough to work (I'm not commenting on the validity of the theory, but that's the line that is ordinarily drawn).

    You would be entitled to a student loan / any relevant grants and bursaries if it's your first degree, and you can claim both DLA and Disabled Student's Allowance (DSA) so you might actually find that you don't need the money you get from ESA anyway.

    DirectGov info on ESA
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Thank you for this :)
  • Danny!Danny! mod Posts: 560 Incredible Poster
    Hi Sonia

    That's good that you're in the support group, it should make things a bit easier than in the work-related activity group. Just to add to piccolo's comments:

    If you are in the support group for ESA, it is probably worth you making an application for DLA. From the 10th of June 2013 all new applications will be for the new version of this benefit which is called PIPs.

    In terms of your ESA claim, the main thing is to think about whether you going to uni contradicts the information you've already given them about what you're able to do. For example, if you say you have difficulty leaving the house without support, but then go to uni alone three times a week, then that could be a problem. The letter about the descriptors should help you to work out whether that might be a problem.

    Full-time students can't normally claim ESA (or other income-related benefits such as housing benefit), but if you study part-time you would still be able to claim these things (again as long as it fits in with what you have told them about your limitations).

    How student loans/grants affect benefits gets quite complicated, Student Advice at the uni(s) you are looking at are probably in the best place to advise you with that.

    Hope that helps
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Your ESA (in terms of how much you can receive) will only be affected if you're on income based. But you still need to inform the job centre if you start education; as this may affect your ESA.
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