Working and claiming disability benefits

Some disabled people rely on benefits to top up their income from work. 

If you receive disability benefits and you’d like to start working, you might be wondering how many hours you can work and still claim your benefits. 

The answer is different depending on which type of benefit you claim. On this page, find out more about working and claiming PIP, DLA, ESA and Universal Credit. 

Can I work and claim Personal Independence Payment?


Personal Independence Payment (PIP) helps with the extra costs associated with being sick or disabled, whether or not you’re working. How much you earn (and how much you have in savings) won’t affect how much PIP you can receive.

You can work part-time or full-time and claim PIP.

Find out more about PIP.

Do I have to tell the DWP if I start work and I’m on PIP?

No, you don’t need to tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if you start or leave work. 

You also don’t need to tell the DWP about changes in your income or earnings. 

However, you have to tell the DWP if your medical condition gets better or worse. If your job suggests that your condition has improved, this could impact your PIP claim.

How your job might affect your PIP claim

Let’s say you receive PIP with the mobility component. 

If you take a job that involves moving around a lot, this could be taken into account when you’re being scored for your PIP assessment. 

If this results in being scored lower, you might no longer receive the mobility component of your PIP. 

Find out more from Citizens Advice about reporting changes to the DWP.

Can I work and claim Disability Living Allowance for children?

Yes. Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children is a benefit for disabled under-16s. It is not means-tested, and you can still receive it if you earn money. 

You don’t need to tell the DWP if you receive DLA and you start or leave work. You do need to tell them if your child’s condition or care needs change. 

Find out more about DLA for children.

Can I work and claim Employment Support Allowance?

If you are receiving Employment Support Allowance (ESA), you can do some “permitted work”. You can also do as much voluntary work as you would like to.

There are three types of permitted work:

  • Earn up to £20 a week (known as permitted work lower limit).
  • Earn up to £152 a week by working up to 16 hours per week (known as permitted work higher limit).
  • Earn up to £152 a week, working any number of hours and supported by someone else (known as supported permitted work).

If you are receiving ESA and you’re due to start working, or would like to, you must tell the DWP

Permitted work for Employment Support Allowance

Permitted work lower limit

This level of permitted work allows you to earn up to £20 a week. 

Permitted work higher limit

This level of permitted work allows you to:

  • Work for up to 16 hours per week. 
  • Earn up to £152 a week (after tax and NI deductions). 

Supported permitted work

This kind of permitted work is supervised by someone who helps you do your work. This person is usually an employee of the local authority or a voluntary organisation. 

It could also be work that you do as part of a course of medical treatment. 

  • There’s no limit to how many hours you can work.
  • You must not earn more than £152 a week (after tax and NI deductions).

Find out more about ESA.

Working and Universal Credit

If you claim Universal Credit, you’ll be encouraged to work as much as you can. 

Universal Credit tops up your earnings. The more you earn, the less Universal Credit you will receive. 

If you have a disability that affects your capacity to work, you will get a “work allowance”. This is an amount that you are allowed to earn per month before your Universal Credit is reduced.

Your work allowance will be:

  • £344 if you also receive help with housing costs.
  • £573 if you don’t get help with housing costs.

Find out if you’re eligible for a work allowance.

How much can I earn before Universal Credit is reduced?

Let’s say you’re someone who has a health condition or disability that makes it difficult for you to work. 

You claim Universal Credit, which includes the housing element.

You can earn up to £344 per month while still receiving your full Universal Credit payment. If you earn more than this, your Universal Credit payments will start to reduce. 

Find out more about how your earnings affect Universal Credit.

Can I work and claim Carer’s Allowance?

Yes, but you must not earn more than £132 a week. 

You can receive Carer’s Allowance if you care for someone for 35 hours per week or more.

Find out more about Carer’s Allowance.

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This content was last reviewed in March 2024. We’ll review it again next year.