British Lung Foundation
33,760 members41,216 posts

Going from employed to unemployable?

I've a great job with a company who are very helpful re my mod/severe COPD/asthma. I receive top rate mobility but no care aspect. My company have put me through 'reasonable adjustment' to be monitored on an annual basis. My job is largely sedentary but it is very pressured and in education; I am constantly hit with the colds and illnesses of both students and staff. Whilst at work I am largely able to do my job but my problem is in the amount of time I have off sick (and ongoing tiredness because of poor sleep with my breathing). I do feel that each year is more difficult but how does one go from employed to 'too unwell to work' without being penalised by the DSS? I am 52 so too young for official retirement and just can't seem to see a clear way forward. Any ideas?

10 Replies

Hi I am 51 been off sick since beginning of May going to try and go back to work in 2 weeks, not sure if I will manage it’s a case of wait and see. But I need to try if it is too much will need to go long term sick I am on oxygen 24/7 mind is still active just the breathing holding me back. I think you go on ESA and are assessed to see if you are in the support group - you do not need to look for work, the other ESA I think means you are fit to do some form of work. I am sure someone will be along soon who knows all about it Val


my husband had to take early retirement after a stroke when he was only 47, he had a choice, he could keep trying to work and risk another maybe fatal stroke, or change lifestyle, it became quantity of life rather than quality, so we chose the quantity, never had much money, never had a car or holidays, we go out rarely, but we are still here. If you do retire you need to change your lifestyle completely and do things you never had time to do, things within your capability, and you can rest when and if. It aint that bad ya know. Choose life..........


Thank you both for your responses - much appreciated.

amagran: you have hit the nail on the head in terms of my difficulty! If I simply 'choose life' and leave my job, I will, as I understand it, have made myself intentionally unemployed and will therefore be ineligible for any form of benefits - won't I?

If I am asked to do stupid things like tie shoe laces by way of testing my work 'capacity', this will not take into account employer unhappiness with high levels of sickness absence, nor my general tiredness whilst working. I already have a desk-bound sedentary job so am not sure what else could be deemed 'appropriate' employment if I struggle with this. Also, I COULD receive up to 6 months sickness pay from my employers so wouldn't be eligible for ESA, I believe (?) and so can't travel that route to 'retirement' either.

I imagine my only realistic near future solution might be to reduce my hours to part time working which would just make me very poor!

The whole system is spo complex it is ridiculous.


Good luck on what ever you decide it is a hard one! Val


You will likely have to do the paid sick leave from your employer initially, when they no longer pay this, that is when you will likely qualify for benefits.

If you feel you can, and want to opt for working part time (reduced hours), you may be able to apply for IS top up, perhaps speak to a benefits advisor about this when the time comes. Also the BLf helpline may be able to help you further on this matter.


Well they made me pack in work put in a claim weeks ago for ESA for the first time in my entire life claiming sick benefit... Which is still not sorted out and they are paying 56 quid into my account and I am a lone parent with 2 kids... My car mot is due today and had to cancel it so now am really low it is bad enough being so ill without all this stress...I have to now use this pathetic amount to buy some uniform for my little girl by tues and then no money for anything else...

Had enough of all of this am seriously considering ignoring all these docs and going back to work monday as at the end of the day this crap won't feed my kids..



Have you tried for DLA? Val


I have the pack arrive my friend is coming to help fill it in as has been doing them for many years for both himself and wife as both seriously ill :-(

Life = Crap :-/



This is what I'm getting worried about for the future. My boss wasn't sympathetic when I needed time of last winter and I only was off a week. I was told I was playing on it. I'm worried I'll get more colds etc now as I work with adults with learning disabilities/difficultes and it isn't an option for me to avoid them when they have colds or infections. This will be my first full Winter coming up and I'm dreading it. Having said that I've put in for a promotion at work and I've been told I've got an interview for it. I know that if I had to retire with ill health now I'd be really in the crap financially and age and health may preclude me from getting another job.


Hi Struggle sorry to hear about your ill health. If you leave a job through illness you need to go see your doctor and get a sick note. Any claim you put in will not be rejected on those grounds.

Have you thought of cutting your hours down? That might be a compromise. x


You may also like...