SSP vs ESA - Help please

I am hoping that someone on here has been through this ridiculous process and can offer some knowledge on the subject. As I merely have a PhD and I am obviously not well-educated enough to understand the relationship between Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and ESA. I have finally decided to throw in the towel at work after 4 years of fighting for adjustments that have never happened I am finally beat. So, I am applying for early retirement from work and as such I am entitled to a pension - not much - but at least it is something and will put me out of the ESA bracket as I will not be entitled to the income based ESA. BTW I’m not retiring that early as I am 58 (cringe). But there’s a transition phase before retirement: I am entitled to 6 months sick leave on full pay followed by 6 months on half pay before I finally leave work and my application for ill health retirement is (hopefully) approved. For 28 weeks my employer has paid SSP as part of my full pay sick leave. But they have now sent me a form SSP1 which I apparently have to send to the job centre! So I rang the job centre and found that I am entitled to contributions based ESA for 13 weeks even though I am still getting half pay from work. The lady on the other end then started talking about how after these 13 weeks I would be called in for assessment and placed in either the support group or work relation group blah blah blah - you know the rest. Sorry this is long but here comes the question: I rang them because my HR told they will pay your SSP for the next 13 weeks not us, so contact them - but the started quoting benefits stuff at me. Now, I know I am not going to get any benefits as firstly I will still be getting half pay and then I will be getting my small, but more than benefits, pension. Can someone please explain the association between SSP and ESA to me - I cannot find one web site that does this clearly. Am I to understand that they are one and the same thing for 13 weeks? And do I have to attend or can I just say actually I won’t be entitled so no point. HELP - my PhD never prepared me for this. Grateful for any replies Wobbly

Hi wobbly,

It’s a minefield darlin; these factsheets contain nearly all the info you need; Hi loupods,

Don’t forget if you don’t claim DLA you can. Call 0800 882200 for the forms; if awarded your allowance is paid back to this phone call.

Benefits and work are excellent but all the good advice you need for free is on

Good luck

George (VD and scar)

Hi Wobbly,

I will tell you what I know but it may not be enough!

SSP is paid for 28 weeks. Your employer has a better than SSP scheme and so makes up your sick pay to full and then half pay. The SSP never came to you as something separate I believe it is paid to your employer. As the 28 weeks ended your employer sent you the SSP1 to allow you to start a claim for ESA. This is never paid to an employer but to you directly.

When I retired early I got full pay for 6 months like you (I presume my employer got the SSP) then I got 6 months half pay. I didn’t start my claim for Incapacity Benefit (as it was then) until my half pay from work ended. In a way SSP and ESA are much the same thing although ESA will be paid to you and SSP was given to your employer.

With regard to ESA you will be entitled to it for 12 months at least despite getting a pension from work because the first 12 months is based on your National Insurance contributions and has nothing to do with any other money that you might have. If you get put into the support group you will be entitled indefinitely. It’s definitely worth applying for even if you only get it for a year. The 13 weeks the DWP was talking about is just the assessment phase not your long term entitlement.


I seriously wander if it is worth going down that road! If they tell me I should go in the work group then how does that fit with my ill health retirement from my pension scheme, which by the way is the Teachers Pension Scheme administered by the same department? I do get DLA, but worry that one day they will join he dots between these.


I retired from teaching last year. When my SSP finished I couldn’t believe that I would be entitled to ESA even though I was still on half pay from school. I was put into the support group without a medical so was receiving £105 a week after the 13 week assessment phase. When my pension kicked in my ESA was then reduced dramatically - however although I gave them plenty of notice by phone and letter they still managed to overpay me for about 5 weeks!

I contacted them again, several times and they eventually said as it was an admin error that they had made they were not going to ask for the money back! I was quite prepared to repay it. It just makes me wonder how much more money is lost by admin errors!


Thanks George the leaflet is helpful. Thanks Jane your story is really useful and it clarifies a lot and my suspicions are confirmed! Hi Sarah, Thanks for sharing you story x would you say it was worth doing then? I am so close to retirement and have had so much trouble at work that the stress has exacerbated my MS considerably over the last 4 years. We decided I should go for ill health retirement so that I didn’t have to worry about work. The thought of the WCA just fills me with dread with all the posts on here and the terrible headlines. Once my pension kicks in I won’t get anything, in fact I will probably pay a small amount of tax! So I can only get it for a year anyway and have no intention of going back to work. Pat x

Hi Jane. I was under the impression that even if you get into the support group that it is not indefinitely. I thought you could be called back at any time.



Hi Mary

Sorry for being unclear - I didn’t mean that you would be in the support group indefinitely just that your entitlement was not subject to the 12 month rule and you would continue to get contribution based ESA as long as you were in the support group.

I was also wrong on the pension front. I forgot that ESA takes personal pension into account even on contribution based. The first £85.00 is disregarded and ESA is then reduced by 50% of the remainder. I forgot because when I claimed IB many years ago pensions were totally disregarded. Sorry!