What disability and sickness benefits can I claim?

If you’ve been forced to leave employment, or work reduced hours, because of sickness or disability, there are a number of benefits you can claim. If you’re working, you might be able to claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), paid by your employer. If this has run out, or you can’t claim it, find out about Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Universal Credit, and other benefits you might be able to claim.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is replacing the following benefits which you might be able to claim if you can’t work because of sickness or disability:

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Income Support

Most people are now no longer able to make a new claim for any of these benefits and will be asked to claim Universal Credit instead.

If you’re currently getting any of these benefits, you will move to Universal Credit before March 2023.

How and when this happens depends on whether you have to make a new claim because of a change in circumstances (natural migration) or are asked by the DWP to move to Universal Credit (managed migration).

For now, you won’t have to claim Universal Credit if you:

  • have three or more children
  • are in a couple and one of you qualifies for Pension Credit.

If you are getting severe disability premium the government is proposing that you won’t have to move to Universal Credit until the DWP asks you to as part of managed migration. This is due to be confirmed in early 2019.

New-style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

Depending on your circumstances, you might be able to claim new-style Employment and Support Allowance. This 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 new-style ESA if your SSP has run out.

It is paid regardless of how much income and savings you have.

It isn’t affected by your partner’s income or savings or the number of hours they work.

You need to have made enough National Insurance Contributions.

If you have three or more children, you will need to make a claim for contribution-based ESA instead.

If you are eligible to claim new-style ESA and qualify for help with other costs, like paying your rent or looking after children, you will have to make an additional claim for Universal Credit.

Find out more about new-style ESA.

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 £22.65 and £145.30 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 £22.65 and £145.35 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

Most people can no longer make a new claim for Housing Benefit and will have to claim the housing costs element of Universal Credit instead.

To find out more, read our guide to Universal Credit.

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 making your home more suitable for your needs

You can’t claim SMI if you’re getting contributory ESA (or contribution-based ESA).

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

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).

Find out more in our guide about Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI).

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

Most people now have to claim Universal Credit instead of Working Tax Credit.

Find out more about claiming Universal Credit here.

Child Tax Credit

If you have one or two children, you now have to claim Universal Credit instead of Child Tax Credit. You can claim for children until they reach 19 (or 20 in some cases) if they are in full time approved education or training, but not at university.

If you have three or more children you will not be asked to claim Universal Credit and can still make a new claim for Child Tax Credit.

If your children were born before 6 April 2017, you will be able to claim for them all.

If one or more of your children were born on or after 6 April 2017, you will only be able to claim for the first two unless you had a multiple birth or adopted.

Find out more about claiming Universal Credit here.

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 starting 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 website

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.

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.

Help with NHS health costs

Top tip

Most people have to pay for prescriptions in England. If you’re on Income Support or income-related Employment and Support Allowance, your prescriptions are usually free.

Prescriptions are free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, whatever your age and circumstances.

If you live in England and you’re getting certain benefits or you’re on a low income you might be able to get help with health costs.

These include:

  • Dental costs.
  • Eyecare costs.
  • NHS prescriptions.
  • Help with travel costs to hospital appointments.

Find out more about getting help with health costs on the NHS Choices websiteopens in new window.

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