Comedy Support Act

Claiming benefits

As a self-employed comedian you can claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) rather than Statutory Sickness Benefit.

Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
You can claim ESA for a short-term or long-term illness, though you won’t get any benefit for the first 7 days of any claim so it’s not worth claiming unless your illness lasts longer than 7 days.

The amount you can claim depends on your income and your circumstances.  You will also need to be signed off work by a doctor and provide a doctor's note to claim ESA.

The ‘Permitted Work’ Rule
If you have an illness or disability that prevents you from working full-time you can work up to 16 hours per week, earn a maximum of £104 per week after tax and NI deductions, and still claim ESA.

You can download a factsheet  about the Permitted Work Rule from the Disability Rights website or call the ESA helpline at the Department for Work and Pensions on: ESA Helpline:  0345 608 8545 (option 3).

The quickest way to apply for Employment and Support Allowance is by phone:

Contact centre numbers
Telephone: 0800 055 6688
Textphone: 0800 023 4888
Welsh language telephone: 0800 012 1888
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Find out about call charges

You can also fill in and print out the ESA1 form and send or take it to your local Jobcentre Plus office.

You’ll need the following information to hand when you make a claim:
- National Insurance number
- Medical certificate
- GP’s address and phone number
- Home and mobile telephone numbers
- Mortgage or landlord details
- Council tax bill
- Dates of employment or last day worked
- Bank account details
- Details of any other money you are getting, eg: other benefits or income

Further advice and information about claiming ESA
You can find advice and information about ESA from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

Alternatively, contact the Department of Work & Pensions ESA helpline on:
0345 608 8545 (option 3)

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