ESA ? SSP? PENSION ? Or nothing?

Have worked for 35 years as nurse/ manager, 20 hrs nhs, 10 hrs private. Over last two years have had to cut down hours due to ms and disabled hubby needing more care. This year have had uti triggered relapse and severe symptoms stopped me working at all, am still suffering bad anxiety and fatigue with little sign of remission. Am managing to care for my hubby and housekeep in a fashion by pacing myself and learning to manage it all. My employer is happy to pay me ssp even though I only worked 14 hours, they also are willing to make adjustments rather than lose me, I’ve been off 3 months so far. I know I’m entitled to ESA and have paid 35 yrs full nat ins conts, I have started claiming carer allowance and know I have a decent nhs pension frozen since 2000. My question is if I am unable to return to work as a nurse, can I apply for my nhs pension early, what do I do if I am put in work group but can’t work, I might be in a reasonable position but can’t manage without any income. I feel a bit cross that I’ve worked and paid tax and NI without a break for 35 years and am left worrying like this. Any advice much appreciated!! Wanda

Hi Wanda,

SSP lasts for 6 months at the end of that period if you are still not able to return to work most employers will be looking to terminate your contract. ESA then takes over from SSP.
ESA is a very complicated benefit and its beyond the answer on a forum to go into all the details but it is fairly well explained at You can PM me with any questions that I will try to answer if I can.

If you have paid into a pension scheme and are no longer able to do that work you can apply for an ill health pension. Every employer is different and has its own rules and regs. The HR department or your union will be able to help with details.

I know that you have worked for many years but with benefit it’s only the previous 3 that count but there is no question of being left with no income .


I wonder if you have applied for DLA? For either yourself or your husband?

I know of someone with a back problem who gets Direct Payments that pay for housework. I have no idea how they work, but it must be worth investigating.

As has been said, you really need to talk to HR about getting your pension paid early. This is getting ever more difficult, but must be worth a try.