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

You can no longer make a new claim for income based ESA and must claim Universal Credit instead.

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 the near future.

You can find out about income based ESA on GOV.UK.

Contribution based ESA

Contribution based ESA has been replaced by “New style” ESA (see above) and you can no longer make a new claim for it.

However, if you already receive it, you will carry on getting it. But if your circumstances change, you might have to claim Universal Credit instead.”

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