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I am too ill to go to work. Can I get any benefits?

If you can't work because you are sick or disabled, you may qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). You must earn an average of at least £111 each week to qualify. If you earn less than this amount, or if you're self-employed, you can't get Statutory Sick Pay - you could claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) instead. Part-time workers, workers on a fixed-term contract and agency workers all qualify for SSP.

SSP is paid at a fixed rate of £87.55 a week. It is paid for up to 28 weeks. You may get more sick pay than this but it will depend on what your contract of employment says.

If your employment ends while you are on SSP, your sick pay will stop too. SSP does not stop if you go into hospital while you are off work.

When SSP runs out or you stop being employed, you may be able to claim another benefit called Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). There are two sorts of ESA. Contributory ESA depends on your national insurance contributions. Income-related ESA will be paid if your income and savings are low enough. You may be able to get both depending on your circumstances.

During the first 13 weeks of ESA, you will have to have a number of tests to find out whether you can work.

The amount of ESA you get depends on your circumstances – for example, your age, your family circumstances, whether you have paid national insurance contributions and whether you are in the first 13 weeks of a claim.

In some circumstances, you can only get contributory ESA for up to 365 days.

If you get income-related ESA, you may also qualify for other income-related benefits, such as Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction and help with health costs.

For more information about SSP, go to Off work because of sickness. For more information about ESA, go to Benefits for people who are sick or disabled.

Other Frequently asked questions about benefits: