If you’re unable to work or have had to reduce your hours due to sickness and/or disability then there are a range of different benefits you may be able to claim.

If, for example, you were working when sickness or disability got in the way of your job, then you might be able to claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), which is paid by your employer.

You can get £99.35 SSP a week if you’re too ill to work, and this will be paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks. To qualify you must earn an average of at least £123 a week, be classed as an employee and have been ill for at least four days in a row. You can find out more about how SSP works here.

However, if for some reason you’re unable to claim SSP or your SSP payments have come to an end, or you weren’t working when you fell ill, you may be eligible other benefits instead, such as the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), or Universal Credit.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is paid to people whose sickness or disability prevents them from getting on with everyday tasks, including getting around. It is not means-tested, so you can claim it regardless of how much income or savings you have.

To be eligible to receive PIP, you must:

  • 16 or over and have not reached State Pension age
  • Have been having difficulties for three months and expect to continue having difficulties for at least another nine months – unless you have a terminal illness.

PIP payments can be anything between £24.45 and £156.90 per week, depending on how severe your sickness or disability is – and how much it affects you.

If you think you may be eligible for PIP, you can make a claim by post or over the phone via the gov.uk website.

PIP is replacing the Disability Living Allowance for people aged 16-64. You can continue to receive DLA until the Department for Work and Pensions writes to you and invites you to apply for PIP. You can keep receiving DLA if you’re under 16 or you were born on or before 8 April 1948 and have an existing claim.

For more information on PIP, have a look at our article Personal Independence Payment explained.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

You might be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance if you can’t work or can only work a limited number of hours a week because of sickness or disability.

Most new claims are for what’s known as ‘new style’ ESA. This can be claimed on its own or at the same time as Universal Credit, and if you qualify you’ll receive a regular fortnightly payment.

You should be able to get it if you’ve paid enough National Insurance in the two to three tax years before the year you make a claim. Your savings won’t affect how much benefit you’re paid, nor will your partner’s income or savings.

If you haven’t paid enough National Insurance contributions in the last 2 to 3 years you might be eligible for  income-related ESA. However, you can’t get this if you have savings or investments worth over £16,000.

You can find out more about how ESA works at GOV.uk.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is the government’s overarching scheme to help cover living costs if you’re struggling to make ends meet. It replaces the following benefits below:

  • Income-related ESA
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit

Claims for the above benefits are generally no longer being accepted and people are being asked to make a claim for Universal Credit instead. If you’re already receiving any of the above benefits already, the DWP should have contacted you about moving to Universal Credit. Although you don’t need to make a separate claim for Universal Credit, you should report any change in circumstances that might increase or reduce your entitlement.

Generally, if you’re under state pension age and you’re on a low income or out of work and you have £16,000 or less in savings, you may be eligible to claim Universal Credit. If you have more than £6,000 in savings (but less than £16,000) you will still be eligible, but it will have an impact on the amount you can claim. If you live with your partner, their income and savings will also be taken into account when your entitlement to Universal Credit is assessed, even if they themselves aren’t eligible for it.

Universal Credit is made up of two elements – a standard allowance and extra amounts if, for example, you have a disability or health condition which means you’re unable to work. The monthly standard allowance if you’re single and over 25 is £334.91, and £525.72 if you’re over 25 and in a couple (this amount is for you both.) If you have a limited capability for work, you could get an extra monthly amount of £354.28.

You can apply for Universal Credit at GOV.uk. For more information on Universal Credit read our article Everything you need to know about Universal Credit.

Charitable grants for ill or disabled people

Many UK charities and trusts offer grants to those who need help with the additional costs that might come with ill health or disability. However, most charities and trusts will expect you to have claimed any benefits you are entitled to, or any support from your local authority before you approach them for a grant.

The majority of grants that charities and trusts offer are only available to people in certain situations, so check which may be available to you before applying. There are a number of online tools that can help you with your search, including:

  • Turn2Us grants search – This tool lets you search for grants based on your location and personal circumstances.
  • Disability grants – If you have a disability or you are the parent or care for someone with
    one, then you can use this tool to search for grants you might be eligible for.

It’s also worth checking online for possible financial assistance related to your specific circumstances, or looking at lists of available grants you might not be aware of such as this one by MoneySavingExpert.

Once you’ve found the grant you want to apply for, you will need to go through the application process. You typically need to provide information such as details of your personal circumstances, what you will use the grant for, and reports from professionals (such as a doctor or physiotherapist).

Scope, the disability charity, has an example grant or trust funding application that you can use if you need the help during the application process.