ESA contribution or income based ?

I’ve been on ESA support group for over 10years. The first 12 months were based on prev contributions and then I moved to income based. I have a small NHS pension which has always been deducted from any benefit. Therefore I was certain I’d qualify for the £650 cost of living payment, but no such luck. When I enquired I was told I didn’t qualify as not in receipt of ESA. I questioned further and was told they moved me on to contribution as it paid the most (approx £1 in difference) I really don’t understand , I haven’t worked since 2010 so won’t have paid any contribution, and if my pension is still taken into account why is this not classed as means tested? I’m still on the same low income with no other revenue. It feels like I’m being penalised at every turn.


  • poppy12345
    poppy12345 Posts: 17,935 Forumite
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    edited 2 September 2022 at 8:43AM
    You must be in the Support Group because when you're in this group contributions based doesn't end after one year, it continues for as long as you remain entitled to it.
    You had the Income Related top up, which increased your ESA amount, so your ESA was a mixture of both CB and Income Related.
    When you received that pension it would have reduced your Income Related entitlement £1 for £1. As part of your claim was CB (£117.60/week) then any pension of up to £85/week is ignored.
    It's not always worth taking a pension early if claiming means tested benefits because it affects the amount you're entitled to and you're not always better off in the end. Even though there's only £1 difference as your ESA is now all contirbutions based you're not entitled to the £650 CoL payment.
    It also affects entitlement to free prescriptions/dental and eye tests.
  • Alice_Holt
    Alice_Holt Posts: 5,946 Forumite
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    I’m still on the same low income with no other revenue. It feels like I’m being penalised at every turn.
       Are you in receipt of, or have you looked at claiming PIP ?

       The £150 CoL payment attaches to PIP.  
    Alice Holt Forest situated some 4 miles south of Farnham forms the most northerly gateway to the South Downs National Park.
  • Cyclamen
    Cyclamen Posts: 643 Forumite
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    Jnglis.. this sounds similar to me.

    I am in ESA support group and have been for over 10 years. 

    My 'how we worked your money out' statement lists i would be entitled to the full amount of ESA under income based but then pays me as contributions based.. very confusing.  

    I ahve a small pension.. not enough to cancel anything out . 

    Makes it tricky for claiming 'income related' things.. thankfully we also get income support as my husband claims carers allowance. Otherwise things like the winter warm home discount and opticians would be harder to claim.

    Some benefits continuing payng 'contributions' whilst not working towards pensions etc... carers and esa i believe do this. So that could explain why we are both still eligible for contributions based despite not able to work?

    I dont find it very clear at all... 

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