What help is available if you are sick or injured and can’t work?

May 30, 2019

Injured Man Filling Form
For self-employed professionals, one of the biggest issues is that when you are not working, you are not earning. A worst-case scenario is being unable to work for extended periods of time due to long term sickness or injury.  Here, we provide an overview of some of the help that’s out there, if the worst should happen.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

Despite not being able to claim statutory sick pay, government assistance is available for people who are self-employed in the form of the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
If you are unable to work this will provide you with financial support. The amount you will be able to claim and for how long will depend on your age, circumstances and level of disability. For the first 13 weeks after you begin to claim you will receive an ‘assessment rate’ of up to £57.90 a week for those under 25 and up to £73.10 a week if you’re aged 25 or over. You will then be assessed and based on this will be placed in one of two groups:

  • The work-related activity group is for those whose disability or health condition does limit their ability to work but there are deemed to be steps that can be taken to improve this. In this group, you will receive up to £73.10 a week.
  • The support group is for individuals whose illness or disability severely limits their ability to work. In this group, you will receive up to £111.65 a week.

For further information, visit the Government website.

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Income protection insurance

Income protection insurance, also known as self-employed insurance or income replacement insurance, is a policy taken out to provide an income should you be unable to work. Although, as with any insurance, it requires a monthly premium to be paid, it will typically provide between 50% and 75% of your gross income depending on the policy. These insurance products will usually pay out for between 12 and 24 months and may offer as much as £1,500 to £3,000 per month.

While this does require a financial investment, it does provide a much higher level of income while you are unable to work, which may be particularly valuable if family members rely primarily or solely on your income.

Help from charities

In addition, if you are unable to work due to a specific illness, dedicated support may be available from charities. For example, in the UK around 50% of men and 45% of women will develop cancer at some point in their life and occupational cancers caused by longer-term exposure to dust, chemicals and UV radiation from sunlight increases this risk. Organisations such as Macmillan Cancer Support offer help and advice for those who are self-employed and develop cancer. This includes guidance on managing your workload during treatment and what government benefits may be available. Macmillan can also help with grants for travel costs for treatment – helping reduce the overall financial burden. For those that work in the home improvement market, the Rainy Day Trust can also offer support.

Citizens Advice

Finally, if you find yourself unable to work and are not sure what financial support you may be entitled to, the Citizens Advice service is able to offer help and guidance in learning more about your options.

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