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Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) in NI

Employment and Support Allowance is paid to eligible people who cannot work because of illness or disability.

For further information please contact the Department for Communities or telephone 0800 085 6318 from the north, or 0044800 085 6318 from the south.

Cross-border issues

Living South, Working North

When a cross border worker becomes ill they usually claim illness benefit in the country of last insured employment (e.g. where they paid PRSI or National Insurance). Therefore workers, living South and working North, requiring illness benefit will apply for ESA from Northern Ireland, based on their National Insurance contributions.

Key things to know:

  • The cross-border claim for ESA is forwarded to England to be processed by the International Pension Centre in Newcastle.
  • ESA (contribution based) is now limited to 365 days after that period the claimant will be means-tested.  Unfortunately means-tested benefits rarely travel across borders.  Contact ESA and Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection  to check your entitlement.

Please visit www.nidirect.gov.uk – Employment and Support Allowance – eligibility

Moving across the border

If you go to live across the border or elsewhere in Europe you may be entitled to take some of your long term illness benefit with you as long as you continue to fulfil the medical conditions for getting it.

For example: the amount of Employment and Support Allowance you receive  may depend on your income and also on your social insurance contributions (National Insurance or PRSI).  If you move across the border you may continue to receive the contribution-based portion.  In very exceptional circumstances you may also be permitted to receive the income-based portion e.g. if you need medical treatment abroad.  It is very important to check your exact  entitlement before you move from Northern Ireland. 

Please visit www.nidirect.gov.uk – Payment of disability benefits in other European countries

See also

Updated:  October 2017

This webpage is for general information purposes only and while we endeavour to keep it up-to-date, errors may occur.  It is very important that you check with the relevant body to ensure the information is current and is applicable to your situation: – North /  South

If you would like to suggest amendments or highlight new information that could be useful to others please don’t hesitate to get in touch.