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Work you can do while getting ESA

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

You can do certain paid or unpaid work while you’re getting ESA and it won’t affect your benefit. This is called ‘permitted work’, or 'supported permitted work'.

Any job can be permitted work as long as each week you're working under 16 hours, and earning less than £120.  It doesn't matter whether you’re in the support group or the work-related activity group.

'Supported permitted work' is work that’s either:

  • supervised by someone from a public or local authority or voluntary organisation whose job it is to arrange work for disabled people
  • part of a treatment programme under medical supervision

You can also earn up to £120 a week doing supporting permitted work. 

If you’re not sure whether the sort of work you want to do will be seen as ‘permitted work’, you can ask an experienced adviser at your local Citizens Advice and they’ll be able to help you.

If you’re going to start doing permitted work, supported permitted work, or volunteering, you should discuss it with your Employment Service Adviser in your local Social Security or Jobs and Benefits Office. You will need to fill in a PW1 form. Alternatively you can contact the Permitted Work Team on 0800 587 1377.

Further help

You can find further information on permitted work, including what effect it might have on tax and other benefits, on the government website at

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