1.1. Types of Disability Benefit

There are two main disability benefits for working-age people which are covered in the Tribunal Representation project; Employment and Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payments.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) (mostly means-tested)

ESA was introduced in October 2013 to replace Incapacity Benefit. It aims to provide financial assistance to people who are not capable of working due to illness or disability. Claimants must:

  • satisfy the immigration conditions of right to reside and the habitual residency test
  • must be of working age (below state pension age/pension credit age), and
  • must not be in receipt of an equivalent benefit.

Claimants may perform some limited types of work. Some types of work, such as voluntary work, DWP-approved work experience, caring for someone living with you and working as a councillor or member of a First-Tier Tribunal panel are allowed. Other work can count as “permitted work” if it earns less than £120 per week, and fewer than 16 hours per week are worked.

There are two forms of ESA: contributions-based and income-based. The former is available to claimants when they become unemployed due to illness, if they have sufficient National Insurance contributions. The latter is means-tested. Almost all of Z2K’s ESA cases concern income-based ESA.

There are two possible levels of ESA: the Work-related Activity Group and The Support Group.

Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG)

Claimants are placed in the WRAG when they are found to have Limited Capability for Work (LCW).

*Unless original claim predates April 2017

The Support Group

Once the threshold for WRAG has been reached, it requires the claimant to be found to have limited capability for work-related activity (LCWRA).

If put in WRAG, claimants will be asked to participate in “work-related activity”, either with a private provider or by attending a Jobcentre. “Work-related activity” has been criticised for focusing on basic literacy, IT and jobseeking skills, and not providing sufficient disability-specific employment support (only 10-15% of work-related activity, with 70% of claimants reporting that no adjustments were made for their disability [mind.org.uk]).

Claimants may be sanctioned if they do not engage with the work-related activity they are assigned.

Following changes to the rules, if a claimant’s application was begun after April 2017 (i.e. not reassessment cases where the original claim dates back to pre-April 2017), they are paid significantly less if placed in WRAG vs the Support Group (£73.10 vs £111.65).

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) (not means-tested)

PIP was introduced in April 2013 to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA). It has the same aims as DLA, to help disabled people to pay for extra costs associated with their daily living and mobility needs. However, the government claimed that a replacement to DLA was needed as there was no “systematic way of checking that awards remained correct” [gov.uk]. Another aim was to reduce the number of people in receipt of PIP/DLA, and to reduce expenditure by 20% [researchbriefings.parliament.uk], though it should be noted that more people have been awarded PIP than expected. DLA to PIP transfer is still ongoing, and the rollout has been subject to many delays.

There are two components of PIP: Daily Living and Mobility, eligibility for which is independent of one another. A series of Activities have been defined by The Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) Regulations 2013, and a claimant’s eligibility is assessed by assigning descriptors and an associated number of points for each Activity. The total number of points is summed for each component, and an award made if the sum exceeds a threshold.


PIP rates for 2019/20

Standard Enhanced
Daily Living £58.70 £87.65
Mobility £23.20 £61.20

There are two available rates – Standard and Enhanced – which will be awarded if 8 or 12 points respectively are reached for a component.

Last updated on April 30th, 2019 at 11:22 am