Incapacity benefit was started to be phased out in October 2008 and was gradually replaced by the Employment and Support Allowance for all new claimants after this date. If you are disabled or your ill health stops you from working then you can apply for this benefit. ESA also replaced Income Support, which is being phased out as well.

The allowance aims to provide more focused and specialised support to those of working age by helping them get back into employment. Each claimant will have a Personal Adviser to assist and advice them on financial and work related matters. They will help you with career advice and arrange work focused interviews with employees or find you training programmes to improve your skills.

Some people who apply may be asked to undergo a Work Capability Assessment to assess their disability or health issues that are stopping them from working. Claimants will be divided into three distinct groups, firstly the Assessment Group, secondly the Work Related Activity Group and finally a Support Group. Disabled claimants will normally be placed in the support group, they typically receive a higher rate of benefit that the other groups.

Contribution based and income based allowances
There are two main types firstly the contribution based allowance which is related to how much National Insurance Contributions you have paid. Then there is the Income-based Employment and Support Allowance, this rate is based on your income and also relates to you if you have not paid any NI contributions.

The different phases
There are essentially two phases to the Employment and Support Allowance, the first phase will pay a rate up to 13 weeks and the second phases will start after this period.