Frugal Family

What Financial Help Is Available If You Become Seriously Ill?

It is one of the most terrifying nightmares for any working adult… what if an accident, illness or disease prevents you from working?  How will you earn enough to pay your bills?  How will you support your family?

It is a relief to know that multiple benefit programs exist in the UK to give assistance to individuals who cannot work due to illness or injury.  The exact types of benefits available depend on your specific circumstances.  In addition to government benefit programmes, there are different types of insurance you may want to consider.  This article discusses both types of options.

Though it is in your best interests to ensure that you armed with this knowledge, it is much more preferable to safeguard yourself against major illness. If you are a smoker, consider cutting down; or if you are a drinker, seek advice from your local health services for help staying sober; and if you are overweight, you are at higher risk of fatal heart disease and diabetes – think about joining a gymnasium for your health and well-being.

Government benefit programs

The following are the primary types of benefit programs available in the UK to people who are unable to work due to illness or injury.

Statutory sick pay: If you qualify, your employer pays statutory sick pay (SSP) for the first 28 weeks you are off work due to illness or injury.  To qualify for SSP, you have to earn at least £109 per week.  Workers who earn less than that amount or who are self-employed, should consider Employment and Support Allowance instead.  SSP is paid at a set amount of £86.70 per week, unless your employer states that it pays a higher amount in its employment contract.  If you are not entitled to receive SSP, your employer should inform you by giving you a form called SSP1.  You can get more information about SSP, and all government benefit programs, from your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Employment and Support Allowance: Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is available to people who do not qualify for statutory sick pay (SSP) and who cannot work due to an illness or injury.  You must be a UK resident and neither you nor your partner may be receiving Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, or Pension Credit.  Part of the qualification process requires sending medical certificates of limited work capacity to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).  There are two types of ESA: contributory ESA, which requires you to have paid enough national insurance contributions, and income-based ESA, which you can receive if your income and available assets are low enough.  You may qualify for both, depending on your circumstances.  A great deal of additional information is available on the Employment and Support Allowance section of the Citizens Advice Bureau website.

If you have a permanent disability that affects your ability to live independently, you may also qualify for a Disability Living Allowance, an Attendance Allowance, and/or a Personal Independence Payment.

Insurance policies

A couple different types of insurance cover may help provide income replacement in the event that you become critically ill and are unable to work.

Life insurance: If you have dependents such as children or a partner who reply on you financially, then life insurance is a must. It won’t pay-out unless you die, but despite this it’s an important policy to make sure you have in place to make sure your family is financially secure after your death.

Critical illness insurance: Critical illness cover provides a financial safety net in the event you suffer from one or more defined, severe illnesses.  All critical illness insurance policies cover cancer, heart attack, and stroke, provided they are severe enough.  Payment of a critical illness insurance policy takes the form of a lump-sum tax-free payment, which you and your family can use for whatever financial needs you may have.  Look here to browse some of the policies on offer.

Income protection insurance: While critical illness insurance only covers you if you have a severe illness, income protection will pay-out if you’re unable to work due to an accident or sickness. It will normally provide you with pay-outs until you return to work, your retirement or death. Pay-outs are usually based on a percentage of your earnings.


Hazel Newhouse

Hazel is a mum to 3 daughters and a son, she lives in Bedfordshire with her husband, kids and pets. Hazel has written for various publications, and regularly works alongside popular parenting and gardening brands.

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