Claiming ESA whilst studying at uni

    • Thread Starter

    Hi,I am due to start my undergraduate course at uni in 2 days time but I am really concerned about my financial situation. I currently receive DLA and ESA which I have just had a review for where they moved me from the work related activity group to the higher support group which was a huge weight off my mind. At my ESA interview they knew I had been at college for the past 3 years gaining GCSE grades and that I had recently completed an access course. I did not tell them I was going on to university as I had not decided if this was the right route for me even though I had applied at the time. To cut a long story short, today I received part of my student maintenance loan but I have not informed the DWP so next week I will still receive my usual amount of ESA. Can I still receive ESA as a disabled student and do I need to inform them? As I said I have only just had a review for ESA and I am worried that now I might have to have another review and they will use me going to uni against me. Also are the DWP automatically informed by the uni or student finance about a student attending uni? Any answers would be greatly appreciated as I really don't know what to do. I have a friend who said they told the DWP they were going to uni and it did not affect their ESA and they just used the maintenance loan to buy extra luxuries which sounds ludicrous to me. I don't want to get into financial difficulty especially as my ESA had just been upped but I also don't want to commit any type of fraud. HELP!!!


    First of all I would advise seeking out a Student Adviser at your Uni to get individual help with this as benefits and student finance can be tricky to deal with and you may need support in dealing with DWP as they often misunderstand the student benefit rules.

    You can continue to claim ESA whilst a full-time student because you are on DLA/PIP. If you didn't have DLA/PIP then you could NOT continue to be eligible for ESA and would have to stop your claim. The other thing to note is that if you are a full-time (undergraduate) student on DLA/PIP, you are automatically eligible for ESA so they can't stop your ESA just because you are going to Uni. There is an understanding that going to University is not the same as being 'fit for work' so it can't be held against you.

    However, if your are on Income Related ESA, then some of your student finance is taken as income and will reduce the amount of ESA you receive. For example, someone in the support group may only receive 10 pounds per week ESA during the academic year because of their student maintenance loan income.

    You should be receiving the Maintenance Loan with Special Support Element as you are a disabled student on ESA and PIP - did you send your benefit letters to Student Finance to prove you are on ESA/PIP? If you are not sure, give student finance a call to make sure you are receiving the correct type of maintenance loan.

    Your student loan income is only take into consideration during the academic year, so when you start studying, ESA will reduce in the amount you receive, then in the summer your ESA payments go back up, then they go back down again in September when you go into the next year of your course. You are supposed to tell DWP that you become a full-time student and send them a copy of your student finance entitlement letter as this is considered a Change of Circumstances. You risk getting overpaid if you don't do this. However, make an appointment to see a Student Adviser about this before calling DWP as they could just stop your payments by mistake (because they tend to get very confused about the student benefit rules!). The adviser should also make sure that you are getting the Maintenance Loan with Special Support Element as you need to be on that for your benefits to be calculated correctly.

    As you are a disabled student on ESA and DLA, you most likely qualify for Housing Benefit as well to help with your rent cost too if you are living outside your family home.

    The person has given you some good advice. DWP aren't automatically informed of anything. You have to inform them yourself.
    • Thread Starter

    Hi,can I firstly say thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my message. I have made an appointment to see a student advisor as you suggested as I am not getting the maintenance loan with the special support element as I did not send my ESA entitlement letter to student finance as I didn't know I had to. I can't thank you enough for all the vital information you gave me,it has helped me out loads. I will update on here after my appointment to let you know what happened and so other students who are having the same predicament know what to do. Thank you once again,you're an absolute star!
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Updated: September 29, 2016
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