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Can I qualify for contributions based ESA?
If I were on contributions based ESA it would allow me to move in with my girlfriend, as it stands, as I am on income related (support group) I cannot afford to move in with her as I would lose it as she works full time.
It has come to my attention that since 2011, when I started on ESA, the DWP have been giving me NI credits. I did not work before this as I became disabled before I left school.
From what I can see the rules are as follows:
You qualify for contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you have paid sufficient National Insurance contributions. There are two contribution conditions you must meet:
- First contribution condition - in one of the last two complete tax years, you must have paid Class 1 or 2 contributions on relevant earnings at the lower earnings limit for at least 26 weeks. This means you must have worked for at least 26 weeks of the last two complete tax years; and
- Second contribution condition - in both of the last two complete tax years, you must have paid or been credited with, Class 1 or 2 contributions to the value of 50 times the lower earnings limit.
The 2 tax years that are relevant are the ones that were completed before the benefit year in which your period of limited capability for work began.
- The tax year runs 6 April - 5th April
- The benefit year runs from the first Sunday in January.
- The lower earnings limit for the 2014/2015 tax year was £111 per week, for 2015/2016 it was £112 per week.
Firstly - Are my credits 50 times the lower earning limit, i.e enough to satisfy the 'second contribution condition'. My HMRC record says that since 2011 I have 52 weeks NI credits.
Secondly, if the answer to the above is yes - I do meet the second contribution condition then am I right in thinking that if I could find a job that paid £112 (or whatever it is for 2016/17) for 26 weeks then I would fulfil the first condition too? Would the fact that this would still be under permitted work be exclusionary? Also am I thinking, as a self employed person (I currently work 7 hours a week for £84 and think I could manage another 3) that I would have to opt in to paying class 1's for this time as I am a low earner so would otherwise be exempt? How much would those contributions be?
Thirdly, will the fact that my limited capability for work began in 2010 exclude me, unless I managed to work for a period of time (what period of time - 26 weeks or two years?) off of ESA completely?
...Ok that was more than three questions but you get my point here - is there any way, combining my NI credits from ESA and my limited capability for work that I could move on to contributions based ESA?