What disability and sickness benefits can I claim?

If you’ve recently become sick or disabled, find out more about the long-term sickness and disability benefits available, how savings affect your benefits and what you can claim if you’re self-employed and can’t work because of illness or injury.

ESA if you can’t work because of sickness or disability

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is paid if you can’t work or can only work a few hours a week because of sickness or disability.

You might be able to get ESA if your Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) has run out or you can’t claim SSP. For example, because you’re:

  • Self-employed
  • Under State Pension Age
  • Unemployed but not getting Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Earn less than the National Insurance contribution threshold (£112 a week in 2015/16)

There are two types of ESA:

  • Income-related ESA
  • Contribution-based ESA

Claiming contribution-based ESA

  • It’s paid regardless of how much income or savings you have
  • It’s not affected by your partner’s income and savings or by how many hours they work
  • You might be able to claim it if you have paid enough National Insurance contributions

You might be able to claim it if you:

  • Earn less than £112 a week
  • Didn’t pay enough National Insurance contributions to qualify for contribution-based ESA.

Income related ESA is means tested. You might not be able to claim it if:

  • You or your partner or spouse have income or savings of £16,000 or more
  • Your partner or spouse works 24 hours a week or more

How much is ESA?

For 13 weeks after your claim you’ll be paid at the assessment rate. This is:

  • Up to £57.90 a week aged under 25
  • Up to £73.10 a week aged 25 or over

After your assessment, if you’re entitled to ESA, you’ll be placed in one of two groups.

  • The support group, or
  • The work-related activity group

You will get:

  • Up to £109.30 a week if you’re in the support group
  • Up to £73.10 a week basic allowance (£114.85 if you’re in a couple) if you’re in the work-related activity group

If you made your claim for ESA before 6 April 2017 and are in the work-related activity group, you should also be entitled to the work-related activity component payment of £29.05 a week.

This payment has been abolished for new claimants.

Disability premiums

If you’re in the support group and on income-related ESA, you’ll get £15.75 a week for the enhanced disability premium

Depending on how severely, your condition affects you, you might also get £61.85 a week for the severe disability premium.

Personal Independence Payment

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is paid if you find it difficult to carry out daily tasks or get about.

It is not means tested you could get it regardless of how much income or savings you have.

To qualify for it you must:

  • Be aged between 16 and 64
  • Have had these difficulties for three months and expect them to last for at least another nine months (unless you are terminally ill)

PIP is replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for adults.

How much is PIP?

You could get between £21.80 and £139.75 a week, depending on how severely your condition affects you.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

You can only make a new claim for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children under 16.

It is not means tested you could get it regardless of how much income or savings you have.

For adults DLA is being replaced by PIP.

How much is DLA?

Your child could get between £21.80 and £139.75 a week, depending on how severely their condition affects them.

Read our guide to claiming disability benefits for children

  • Find out more about DLA for children on GOV.UK.

  • Find out more about existing DLA claims for adults on GOV.UK.

  • Find out more about claiming DLA in Northern Ireland on the nidirect website.

Attendance Allowance

You might qualify for Attendance Allowance if:

  • You need help with personal care
  • You need supervision to keep you safe
  • You’re aged 65 or over and have not previously claimed DLA/PIP
Read more about Attendance Allowance in our guide Benefits you can claim when you have care needs.

Help with housing costs

If you’re renting

If you’re renting a property and you’re on a low income you could get help with Housing Benefit to pay your rent.

You might get this help even if you’re working. It’s paid by your local council.

Find out more about Housing Benefit on GOV.UK.

If you’re a home owner

You might get help towards interest payments on your mortgage. This is called Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI).

You can claim it:

  • If you’re getting Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit
  • To also help pay the interest on loans for repairs or adaptations that make your home more suitable for your needs

You can’t claim SMI if you’re getting contribution-based ESA.

SMI is paid directly to the lender 39 weeks after you first apply for this benefit.

Under government proposals, from April 2018 SMI will be paid as a loan which you will have to pay back either when you sell your house, or voluntarily when you are able to (for example when you return to work).

Help with Council Tax

If you’re on a low income you might be able to get help with Council Tax payments.

Each local council has their own Council Tax Reduction scheme, so the help you get depends on where you live.

Other benefits you might be entitled to

Working Tax Credit

You should be able to claim Working Tax Credit if you have a disability and:

  • You usually work 16 hours or more a week
  • You’re single and you earn £13,100 or less a year (approximately)
  • You’re in a couple and your household income is £18,000 or less a year

You might also qualify for an extra payment called the Disabled worker element.

Follow the links below for more information:

Child Tax Credit

You should be able to claim Child Tax Credit if:

  • You have at least one child and your household income is £26,000 or less a year
  • You have two children and your household income is £32,000 or less a year

There are other limits if you have more than two children.

Find out more in our guide Child Tax Credits.

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

If your disability or illness was caused at work you might

be able to claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB).

You must have been working for an employer or taking part in approved training. You won’t be able to claim it if you were self-employed.

The amount you can get depends on how severely your condition affects you.

It isn’t means tested so you could get it regardless of how much income or savings you have.

Reduced Earnings Allowance

If you have an injury or illness caused by work that started before 1 October 1990 and can’t earn as much money now because of your condition, you might be able to claim Reduced Earnings Allowance.

It is means tested so getting it could affect other benefits of both you and your partner or spouse.

You might also be able to claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.

Find out more about Reduced Earnings Allowance.

State Pension and Pension Credit

If you’ve reached State Pension age you will be able to claim the State Pension.

If you’re on a low income you might be able to top it up with Pension Credit.

Read our guides State Pension and Pension Credit.

Which disability and sickness benefits are affected by income and savings?

Benefits that aren’t affected by income and savings

Some benefits help you with the extra care needs of being sick or disabled and aren’t means tested - so they are not affected by your income and savings. These benefits include:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

Contribution-based ESA is not affected by your income or savings as it is paid if you’re entitled to it and you have made enough National Insurance contributions.

Benefits that are affected by income and savings

Other benefits are affected by your income and savings – and your partner or spouse’s too. For example:

  • Tax Credits
  • Pension Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income-related JSA
  • Income-related ESA
  • Council Tax Reduction
  • Reduced Earnings Allowance.

If you have income and/or savings of less than £6,000 you should usually be entitled to claim these benefits.

If you or your partner or spouse have income and/or savings over £16,000 you usually won’t be eligible to claim these benefits.

If you have income and/or savings of between £6,000 and £16,000 you might still be entitled to claim these benefits but the amount you get could be reduced.

If you have income and/or savings get a benefits check to find out what you might be entitled to.

  • Find out more about claiming sickness and disability benefits on the Turn2Us website
  • Find out more about how income and savings affect benefits on the entitled to websiteopens in new window

Sickness and disability benefits if you’re self-employed

If you’re self-employed you can’t claim Statutory Sick Pay but you might be able to claim the following benefits:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Universal Credit
  • Council Tax Reduction
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support for Mortgage Interest (if you’re entitled to income-related ESA)

Benefits for carers

If a friend or family member cares for you there is also support available for them.

Universal Credit and sickness and disability benefits

Universal Credit is replacing some benefits. These include:

  • Tax Credits
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

You’ll be told whether this affects you when you make your claim.

Help with getting about – Motability and Blue Badge Schemes

Motability Scheme

Who is it for? People in receipt of the higher rate mobility element of Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment – the scheme can provide a car, motorised wheelchair or scooter.

More information: Find out more on the Motability website.

How to claim: Call Motability on 0300 456 4566.

Blue Badge Scheme

Who is it for? The Blue Badge scheme helps those with severe mobility problems who have difficulty using public transport to park close to where they need to go. Charges and entitlement rules for the Blue Badge scheme vary across the UK.

More information: GOV.UK – Blue Badge Scheme

How to claim: Apply online on the GOV.UK website or contact your local council.

Help and advice about sickness and disability benefits

There is plenty of free help available if you’re unsure about what benefits you are entitled to or need help with making a claim.

If you claim benefits you must explain your condition. Otherwise you might not get all the help you’re entitled to.

Appoint someone to deal with your sickness and disability benefit claim for you

If you can’t manage your benefits yourself, an individual or organisation can do this on your behalf.

This is called being an appointee. They become responsible for dealing with your Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) benefits.

If you have a learning disability, you can ask Dosh Financial Advocacy to help you with your benefits as your advocate and appointee.

They’re a non-profit organisation, and also offer a series of fact sheets for family carers on managing money.

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