Benefits if you have a health issue or disability

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 £94.25 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 £118 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 £23.20 and £148.85 per week, depending on how severe your sickness or disability is – and how much it affects you.

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.

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 here.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a fairly new type of benefit that is replacing 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 then you’ll be moved to Universal Credit before March 2023. This switch won’t be automatic – you’ll either be asked by the DWP to make a managed migration, or if your circumstances have changed since your original claim for any of the benefits above, you may have to make a brand new claim.

You won’t have to move to Universal Credit yet if:

  • You’re in a couple and one of you qualifies for Pension Credit.
  • You get Severe Disability Premium.

If you’re you think you could be entitled to Severe Disability Premium but you’re not yet claiming it, you should make a claim now by contacting your local Jobcentre Plus. 

To qualify for Universal Credit, you must be out of work or on a low income, under State Pension age, and you and your partner must have less than £16,000 in savings between you.

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 £317.82, and £498.89 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 £336.20.

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