Benefits and Welfare Advice
If you’re eligible to receive benefits then it makes sense to make sure you’re claiming them. If you are eligible for benefits you are not yet claiming we will offer advice as to how you can claim, how much money you might be able to claim and what you will have to do.
There are thousands of people in the UK who are eligible for benefits but simply don’t realise they qualify. Depending on your circumstances you may be able to claim the following benefits to help maximise income.
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Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
Are you capable of working, but out-of-work or working less than 16 hours a week? You may be entitled to claim Job Seekers Allowance. The requirements of claiming this benefit are that you must be actively seeking employment, attending the job centre every 2 weeks to prove your efforts at finding a job, and you must have made sufficient National Insurance contributions in the past. You must also be over 18, reside in England, Scotland or Wales and not be in full-time education. Click here to apply online.
Income Support is based on your level of income – it subsidises people aged 16-60 who are on low incomes.
The amount of income support depends on your individual circumstances, for more information and to apply for income support contact your local benefits office. If your income reduces, claim immediately as you may lose money if you don’t.
You can find out more about the qualifying criteria here.
Working Tax Credits
This benefit – formerly Working Family Tax Credit (WFTC) – is for people who work a certain number of hours a week (dependent on age), but are on a low income. Working Tax Credit can also be claimed if you are responsible for a child, and the benefits can be used to cover childcare costs. As with other benefits, the amount you get will depend on your circumstances. To apply for Working Tax Credit you need to request a form, available online here: www.gov.uk/qualify-tax-credits or by calling the Tax Credits office.
This benefit is provided for each child you have and isn’t means-tested, although you may be taxed on this benefit if you earn more than £50,000. Child benefit can be received if you are raising a child under the age of 16 or under 20 if they are in full time education. Even if you aren’t the parent of the child, but are responsible for them, you may still be entitled to child benefit. For details on claiming this benefit contact your child benefit office.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) can be claimed by those who cannot work due to ill health or disability. In order to qualify for financial support you will need to complete an assessment to show you can’t work. ESA is split into the types:
- Contribution based ESA. This is based on national insurance contributions so if you have paid class 1 or class 2 contributions in the last 2-3 years – this is what you’ll qualify for. This benefit lasts a year but if you are still unable to work after this period you can reapply when your allowance ends.
- Income related ESA. If you don’t qualify for contributory ESA, you can apply for income-related ESA. This is dependent on how much you and your partner earn. You won’t qualify for income related ESA if you have savings of more than £16,000.
You can apply for ESA by filling out the ESA1 form and taking it to your local Job Centre Plus. You can find out more about ESA here.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
Disabled living allowance (DLA) has now been replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP), although those born before 8th April 1948 will still receive the former.
DLA/PIP is a benefit for those who have long term mobility restrictions. Payments are based on how much help you need and you will need to be assessed to work out what rate you qualify for. In order to apply you will need to contact the Department of Works and Pensions.
Carers allowance can be claimed by anyone who is caring for a family member or friend for at least 35 hours per week. The person you care for must be receiving or in the process of claiming Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment. Please note claiming carers allowance may reduce the amount of benefits received by the person you are caring for.
Council Tax Reduction
Council tax reduction contributes to the cost of council tax for those living in mortgaged or rented properties. There are various reasons in which you might receive a discount on your council tax. For more details contact your local council.
If you are on a low income or reclaiming other benefits, you could be eligible for housing benefit. The benefit can cover all or some of the rent or mortgage depending on your circumstances. You may not be able to claim housing benefit if you have over £16,000 in savings, you are in full time education or living with a friend/relative and are paying rent. To see if you’re entitled to claim housing benefit you need to obtain a form from your local council.
Pension credit is designed to top up your pension to a minimum level. It is broke down into two parts, guaranteed pensions credit and savings pension credit. Guaranteed credit tops your weekly income to £155.60 if you’re single and savings credit is an additional top up for people who have saved money towards their retirement. Anyone aged 66 or over and live in Great Britain are entitled to Pension Credit. You can apply for your pension credits 4 months before you reach pension credit qualifying age. You can apply for pension credits by calling the Pension Credit Application Line on 0800 99 1234.
*You can find out more about call charges here.
A State Pension is payable when you reach pension qualifying age. As of 6 April 2016 the state pension will be £155.65 a week. To qualify you need to have paid enough national insurance contributions throughout your working life. To give you a rough idea, you need to have earned a gross salary equal to that of a basic pension for most of your working life.
*If you reached state pension age before 6 April 2016 you will stay on the current pension scheme.
State Second Pension
Depending on your individual circumstances, you may be entitled to State Second Pension also called the Additional State Pension and formerly the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme. As its name suggests, State Second Pension is paid in addition to the basic State Pension. Up to April 2002 this benefit was based on your National Insurance contributions and your level of earnings as an employee. On 6 April 2002, the State Second Pension reformed SERPS (State Earnings Related Pension Scheme) to provide a more generous additional State Pension for low and moderate earners, and to extend access to include certain carers and people with long-term illness or disability.
For more advice on Pension Benefits visit the Pension Service website
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