You can do some 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:
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 or supported 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 tell the Department for Work and Pensions (the DWP) by calling the ESA helpline.
ESA helplineTelephone: 0800 055 6688Textphone: 0800 023 4888Welsh language telephone: 0800 012 1888Open Monday to Friday from 8.00am to 6.00pm
You can claim ESA up to three months in advance if you are not entitled to it now, but will become entitled within 13 weeks of claiming. I think this is the only route you can go down. I know you are trying to work it so that you don't have a gap without money and this is the best way to go about it. Whether it will turn out that way I'm not sure, but if you need money while you are waiting for ESA to complete your claim you can phone 0345 6088545 and ask for a short-term benefit advance.
You may be entitled to PIP if your Arthritis causes you difficulty with daily living and mobility and to start a claim for PIP you will need to call 0800 917 2222 to request a claim form.