What can I claim if I am too sick to work?
When do I get Statutory Sick Pay?
Normally if you are an employee then for the first 28 weeks you are ill you will receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), though SSP is not paid for the first 3 days. To receive SSP you must have had earnings of at least the lower earnings limit. SSP is administered and paid by your employer.
You must be in a “period of incapacity for work”, which means that you must be too ill to work for four or more days in a row. These include days when you do not normally work, for example, the weekend. Periods of illness separated by eight weeks or less can be linked, so once you had qualified if you went back to work for a bit you would not have to wait another three days in the next period of incapacity before you claimed. Usually, after 7 days of absence, your employer will ask you to provide a medical certificate from a doctor. It is for your employer to decide if you are incapable of work, in doing this he may take advice from a company doctor, your GP, or, in rare cases the HMRC Medical Service.
It is possible to get Income Support on top of SSP, but only if you meet the conditions and SSP is less than Income Support for your circumstances (for example, your partner is not working either) and you are already in receipt of it. Most people cannot make new claims for Income Support but your old claim may continue.
If you are not an employee but you are an Agency Worker, you are entitled to SSP if your earnings are higher than the lower earnings limit; and if you are absent from work for four consecutive calendar days. If you have been working for an agency for at least 3 months, then this entitlement should cover the period of sickness, up to 28 weeks. If you have been there less than 3 months, you should get sick pay until the end of the last assignment you had been working on.
What if I am self-employed?
If you are self-employed, you leave your job, or you have been sick for longer than 28 weeks, you may be able to claim contributory (you will need to have sufficient national insurance contributions) Employment and Support Allowance.
What other benefits can I claim?
If you make a new claim for Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Working Tax Credit or Housing Benefit, you will be told to claim Universal Credit instead.
If you usually get Working Tax Credit you should check to make sure you are still treated as working. After 28 weeks of sickness, you usually cannot be treated as working any longer, and this could affect your entitlement.
You will find more information on SSP and ESA on the GOV.UK website. If you have problems with daily living (such as needing help with personal care, communicating with people, or problems getting around), then check whether you might also be able to claim Personal Independence Payment.
If you are struggling with rent or council tax payments whilst you are off sick, check whether you can get help with your local council to pay the council tax. If you are already getting help with Housing Benefit payments or with your council tax you should make sure you tell the council about any changes in your income.
This advice applies in England, Wales and Scotland. If you live in another part of the UK, the law may differ. Please call our helpline for more details.