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Sickness benefits

Sickness benefits

Benefits for people of working age who are ill or disabled

Which benefits you can claim depends on your circumstances. Most people on a low income will claim for Universal Credit, but you might also be able to claim for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) or Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a payment to help with your living costs. You can apply for it whether you’re employed, self-employed or unemployed.

Universal credit has replaced most means-tested benefits.

Find out about Universal Credit, including how to apply for it.

Employment Support Allowance (ESA)

‘New style’ ESA

To get ‘new style’ ESA you must have:

  • an illness or disability that affects your ability to work
  • been an employee or self-employed and paid National Insurance contributions, usually in the last 2 or 3 years

Your (or your partner’s) income and savings won’t affect how much ‘new style’ ESA you’re paid.

Check if you can claim Universal Credit. You could get Universal Credit at the same time or instead of the ‘new style’ ESA.

You can find out about ‘new style’ ESA, including how to claim, on GOV.UK.

Income based ESA

To get income based ESA you must have an illness or disability that affects your ability to work and you either:

  • get the severe disability premium
  • got the severe disability premium within the last month and you’re still eligible for it

If you already receive income based ESA, you’ll carry on getting it. But if your circumstances change you might have to claim Universal Credit instead. People in Bristol will start to be moved onto Universal Credit in 2020.

You can find out about income based ESA, including how to claim, on GOV.UK.

Contribution based ESA

To get contribution based ESA you must have an illness or disability that affects your ability to work and you either:

  • get the severe disability premium
  • got the severe disability premium within the last month and you’re still eligible for it

You must also have been an employee or self-employed and paid National Insurance contributions, usually in the last 2 or 3 years.

You can find out about contribution based ESA, including how to claim, on GOV.UK.

If you already receive contribution based ESA, you’ll carry on getting it. But if your circumstances change you might have to claim Universal Credit instead. People in Bristol will start to be moved onto Universal Credit in 2020.

Statutory Sick Pay

If you're an employee and unable to work because you're ill, you may be able to get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). It’s paid by your employer, for up to 28 weeks.

Find out about Statutory Sick Pay on GOV.UK.

You may also be entitled to