Saturday, 8 November 2014

National Insurance: A Warning To The Self Employed

Last month I went back to the doctors to discuss my fatigue. I did a post before about how I have been feeling tired for over 18 years now with no diagnosis (you can read it here). Well finally I found a lovely doctor who looked at all my blood test results and the way I have been feeling for so long. She has diagnosed me with Chronic Fatigue. I had suspected this for a long time but no doctor had ever confirmed it. There is no test for Chronic Fatigue it's just a case of ruling everything else out first. I have now been referred to a specialist at the hospital who will hopefully be able to help me to manage it better so that eventually I can return to work. That is my hoping anyway. 

Whilst I am pleased to get a diagnosis, I am unable to work at the moment because I wouldn't be reliable so the doctor has signed me off work for three months. Let me tell you a bit about my situation. I worked for ten years, self employed, part time helping to run an online B&B booking agency. Sadly due to the bigger hotel agencies dominating the market I lost my job a year and a half ago. The job was great for me because I worked from home and was able to work around my fatigue. 

My fiancĂ© Neil and I have been together for five and a half years and I moved up to Kidderminster to live with him nearly two years ago. Neil has a full time job. 

I decided as I can't work at the moment I would try and apply for benefit as I have no money coming in at all and still have a few bills to pay each month. Here is where my frustration starts. I rang up the benefit agency and they told me there are two types of benefits. The first is based on the household income, which as Neil works full time I wouldn't be entitled to. Fair enough. The second is based on National Insurance contributions. As I was self employed I paid the minimum National Insurance therefore it is not enough for me to be able to claim benefits. I am angry about this because when I first became self employed twelve years ago I rang up and asked for advice about National Insurance and was told which one to pay. No one advised me that if the worst was to happen and that I would lose my job I wouldn't be entitled to job seekers or any other benefit. I would have happily paid the extra had I known. So my warning to people self employed is please check you are paying the correct National Insurance so you are entitled to claim if you need to. 

There are people out there who have never worked who claim every benefit under the sun. For me this is a horrible situation. I am lucky that Neil understands my illness and is fine with the situation. For me though it's not right. I feel like a scab. I don't want to ask Neil for money all the time to cover my bills. I am constantly worried about money. Luckily I don't spend much. I don't wear make up and I am not into fashion so that's one good thing but not having money for the little things really gets me down. Like buying presents for my family for Christmas. They don't expect anything from me, they know my situation but for me personally I want to buy them a little something. That's where my comping (enter competitions) comes into it. I have luckily won a few vouchers so I can at least get some small presents. 

I am not a scab and don't want to be on benefits. I want to work but right now I am unable to and I just feel totally let down by the self employment agency who didn't even advise me that this could happen when I first became self employed. I never thought I wouldn't be entitled to anything especially as I have worked. I have put money in, I didn't realise it wouldn't be enough. 

So please please please if you are self employed check. Hopefully my post will help others. I really hope no one is ever in my situation as it is quite stressful. 


  1. Ellen, we shouldn't have to apologies for having a debilitating illness. The press & the government are making us feel this way with the way the reports are written & the sensationalising in the newpapers.
    I have an illness that will eventually lead me to being in a wheelchair & not being able to get around, at the moment I'm relying more & more on my husband, who had to stop work to look after me & doesn't get a penny for doing so, as for some reason we are not entiled to attendance allowance. But I'm very grateful to him for everything he does.
    When we got together 33 years ago we never expected it to be like this at this stage in our lives, but it is, & apart from when we have to fill out the forms for the DSS we get by without worrying or thinking about it on a daily basis.
    Even my brothers think we are on hundreds of not thousands a week - I only wish! We was managing until the bedroom tax came along & that just tipped us over the edge, there is nothing we can cut back on now, we don't smoke/drink/buy magazines/gamble.
    I hope you get some money, for yourself, sorted out soon hun, even having a fiver to spend on yourself or buy what you want is important.
    Sorry got a bit rambly, but I get upset when I see friends defending themselves for just being ill.

  2. Great post - I completly agree with you 'I'm not a scab and I don't want to be on benefits'.
    But it is SO hard right now. I have a (good!) degree and a masters and this week I have been rejected from 19 jobs, including sainsburys, a bt call centre, admin roles and customer service.
    I am not a snob in any way and am literally willing to do anything (applicable!)

    Thanks for this post.
    Hope you get some money sorted out sooun - you are not alone :(

  3. I know that for to receive some benefits like a self-employed you need to work as little as possible but to work and receive a little income(the best is no more than 7000£/year).If you receive nothing they give you nothing benefits.

  4. This is helpful to know as I will be giving up my job next year to become self employed. My daughter starts school in September and my office aren't willing to help me around school hours with my work hours so I'm backed into a corner. Hopefully, I will be able to cope financially. x