NI contributions trap for the disabled? Health issues, PIP, part time work but 0 NI contributions

Due to a health issue, a family member is unable to work more than 10 hours per week.  This low wages causes them to contribute nothing to NI contributions (well under the threshold).

They are in receipt of low rate daily living pip and low rate mobility.  

Citizens Advice have said that no recent full year contributions would be a block to ESA.  Is this true?  Through bad advice, ESA was not sought earlier.  

Are they, through no fault of their own, trapped in a flawed system? (with little to no chance of ever receiving a state pension?)

Voluntary contributions are simply not an affordable option.  As their partner works full time, UC is also not an option.  

Any advice is appreciated.  

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