Permitted work

You may be able to work while claiming Employment and Support Allowance or Incapacity Benefit but within certain limits. This is called 'permitted work' and allows you to test your ability to do some work and perhaps gain new skills.

Permitted work rules

Under the permitted work rules you can:

  • work for less than 16 hours a week, earning up to £120 a week
  • do 'supported permitted work', earning up to £120 a week

Permitted work is a benefit arrangement - employers do not offer 'permitted work'.

Applying for permitted work

Before you start any work, either paid or unpaid, you must fill in a PW1 form and send it to the ESA Centre. You can download a form below or call the ESA centre to request one. You should discuss this with your personal adviser in your local Social Security / Jobs & Benefits office before you start as if you do any kind of work that doesn’t meet the conditions, you could lose your benefit.

Your doctor’s approval or a medical test aren’t needed, however, if a medical test is due as part of your ongoing benefits-related review, it will go ahead as planned.

If you have already started work

If you have already started work, you must fill out a PW1 form and send it to the ESA Centre as soon as possible, or you could be paid more than you should be. The Department for Communities can take back any money it shouldn’t have paid you and you may have to pay a financial penalty on top of this amount.

Supported permitted work

Supported permitted work is work supervised by an employee of a public or local authority, or a voluntary organisation whose job it is to arrange work for people with disabilities. It includes work done in the community, in a sheltered workshop, under medical supervision or as part of a hospital treatment programme.

Income Tax and permitted work

If you start permitted work you may have to pay tax on your extra income. You must tell HM Revenue & Customs as soon as you start work.

Effect on other benefits

Permitted work earnings will be taken into account when assessing the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Rates Relief

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