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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’.

You can do permitted work whether you’re in the support group or the work-related activity group.

Permitted work means you can:

  • do work that’s part of a treatment programme done under medical supervision while you’re in hospital or attending as an out-patient
  • work and earn up to £115.50 a week if it’s work that’s ‘supported permitted work’ - there’s no limit to the number of hours per week or length of time you can do

Supported permitted work is work that’s supervised by someone from a public or local authority or a voluntary organisation whose job it is to arrange work for disabled people.

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. Alternatively you can contact the Permitted Work Team on 0845 6027301.

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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