A BRIEF GUIDE TO WELFARE BENEFITS THAT YOU MAY BE ABLE TO CLAIM
This IS NOT a comprehensive guide to all welfare benefits and does not mention all benefits, nor does it indicate that you may be entitled to any particular benefit. Entitlement to any benefit will depend on your individual circumstances.
This guide IS designed to give a brief introduction to benefits that you may be able to claim if you become sick or disabled.
See our page who do I contact about Benefits for information about how to claim particular benefits
There is information about the full range of benefits and detailed information about each benefit on the www.gov.uk website
DISABILITY LIVING ALLOWANCE (DLA)
Many disabled people receive this but most will in the future transfer to PIP (see below).
New claims for DLA can now only be made by people under 16, at 16 they will transfer to PIP.
People over 65 in April 2013 who receive DLA will not transfer to PIP, they will continue to receive DLA, all other DLA claimants will have their DLA claim ended within the next few years and will be invited to claim PIP.
NB, you will not transfer automatically you will have to claim.
NB, PIP is more restricted than DLA for people with less severe disabilities, some who qualify for DLA will not get PIP, on the other hand some people with greater care needs may be entitled to more
DLA is not means tested, is tax free, can be paid in addition to other benefits, you can receive it while working and it may qualify you for other assistance.
DLA is made up of a Care component paid at 3 different rates and a Mobility component paid at 2 different rates , DLA can be paid if you have significant though not very well defined care and/or mobility needs
Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
PIP has replaced DLA for all claimants between 16 and 65, like DLA it can pay a care (now called Daily Living ) and /or a mobility component, there are 2 rates of each component.
It is a much better defined benefit than DLA, you have to satisfy various ‘descriptors ‘ which determine if you can carry out certain functions. When you claim there is a lengthy questionnaire and most people will also have a medical examination.
MOTABILITY SCHEME and ‘BLUE BADGE SCHEME’
If you are awarded DLA High Mobility or PIP Enhanced Mobility you can access the Motability Scheme for help to provide you with a vehicle or wheelchair/scooter and you will have automatic entitlement to the ‘Blue Badge’ parking scheme.
ATTENDANCE ALLOWANCE (AA)
This is similar to DLA care component but only paid at the two higher rates. It is paid to people who claim after the age of 65. There is no payment to help with mobility within AA
NB. If you are already receiving DLA or PIP when you reach 65 you stay on these benefits indefinitely,
NB. You cannot claim any mobility component after 65 but can continue to receive one if you were already getting it, (you cannot claim any financial help towards the costs of mobility if the need arises after your 65th birthday, although you can still be eligible for the ‘Blue Badge’ parking scheme).
All the above benefits are not means tested, are tax free, can be paid in addition to other benefits and may ‘passport’ you to other help.
You can work whilst claiming DLA, PIP or AA.
CARERS ALLOWANCE (CA)
CA can be claimed by some people who care for a person who receives DLA at the middle or high care rate, PIP at the enhanced daily living rate, or AA.
However there are complications, you won’t receive CA if you already receive certain benefits e.g. Retirement Pension, although there could still be extra income if you are likely to be entitled to any ‘means tested’ benefits, so it may still be worth claiming. You cannot claim CA if you work and earn more than a certain amount
BEWARE if the person you care for receives means tested benefits there is a danger that their income could drop IF YOU CLAIM CA.
SEEK ADVICE for both parties before claiming CA.
Sickness benefits you may be able to claim if you are not fit to work
STATUTORY SICK PAY (SSP)
Paid by employer for up to the first 28 weeks of sickness if an employee earns enough (above the National Insurance lower earnings limit), (it is not paid to the self employed), If you are still unfit to work when SSP ends (or if not entitled), you may be able to claim ESA (see below).
You may be entitled to some contractual sick pay from your employer in addition to SSP, ask your employer or check your employment contract
If SSP is your only income you may be able to claim some means tested benefits to top up your income, see below and seek advice.
EMPLOYMENT AND SUPPORT ALLOWANCE (ESA) and
CONTRIBUTION BASED EMPLOYMENT AND SUPPORT ALLOWANCE (CBESA)
This despite its name is the benefit you can claim if you are unfit to work because of ill health or disability. There are two versions, Contribution Based ESA that you must have paid enough National Insurance (NI) Contributions to receive (there is also a Means Tested Version that you may be able to get if you do not have enough NI contributions-SEE BELOW).
To claim CBESA you must have earned enough to have paid enough class 1 NI contributions (these are what you pay as an employee) or paid enough class2 NI contributions (those paid by the self employed who earn above certain amount) during a specified period before you went sick.
It is paid at lower rate for the first 13 weeks, at some point (in theory during this 13 week ‘assessment period’) you are asked to take an assessment to determine if you are unfit to work, if you satisfy this assessment you will be placed in either the ‘Work Related Activity Group’ (could work in the foreseeable future in the right circumstances),or the ‘Support Group’ (unlikely to be able to work in the foreseeable future) and will then receive a higher rate of ESA from the 13th week .If the assessment determines that you are fit to work ( any work not just your own job) ESA will end.
CBESA is paid for a maximum of 1 year unless you are placed in the ‘Support Group’ in which case you can be paid CBESA for as long as you remain in the Support Group or you reach Retirement Pension age.
(See our item ‘what to do if you think a benefit decision is wrong’ for tips on what to do if you are not in the Support Group but think you should be)
You may be able to claim means tested benefits to top up your CBESA, (see below)
You can do LIMITED amounts of work (within specific rules) whilst claiming ESA e.g. to ease you back into work. Seek advice and keep Jobcentre plus informed if you intend to work.
MEANS TESTED BENEFITSThere are various benefits to help people on lower incomes with limited savings/capital, they are complicated so it is probably wise to get a benefit check carried out (Citizens Advice or A4U may be able to do this or there are online benefit calculators on www. gov.uk, or www. turn2us.org, or if in doubt apply (see our item ‘Who Do I Contact About Benefits’ for information about which department to contact)
With all means tested benefits if you live with a partner it is the income and capital of both partners that is assessed.
Means tested benefits that you may be able to claim include:
UNIVERSAL CREDIT (UC)
Universal Credit replaces Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Based Employment and Support Allowance (it does not replace the Contribution-based versions of these two benefits), Income Support, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit (Council Tax Benefit has already transferred to local Councils).
Eventually all claimants of means-tested benefits will claim one monthly payment of Universal Credit instead of the above benefits. It is being introduced an area at a time and until it is introduced to an area new claimants still claim the 'old' benefits.
Existing claimants of the 'old' benefits will remain on them until that area 'migrates' claimants onto Universal Credit, the timetable is that everybody will be migrated by 2019, but this may well be pushed further into the future. .
Until they 'migrate' they will continue on the 'old' benefits. (but if there is a change in circumstances they may find they have to claim Universal Credit).
As of 16 April 2016 most of England, Scotland, and Wales has introduced Universal Credit for new claims but in most areas it is for single jobseekers only. Everybody else still claims the 'old benefits. In a few areas Universal credit applies to all claimants.
As far as Shropshire goes Universal Credit was introduced in April/June 2015 but only for new single jobseekers,
This situation is likely to remain vague for several years, the best way to find what the situation is in a particular area is to phone the Universal Credit Helpline. 0345 600 0723.
INCOME BASED JOBSEEKERS ALLOWANCE (IBJSA)
Claimed by People who are deemed as capable of work and have little or no income or savings. There are job search conditions that apply to claimants and possibly their partners if one of a couple.
You may have to claim this if you are deemed to be fit for work or in some circumstances your partner may be advised to claim.
INCOME SUPPORT (IS)
Income Support (IS) can be claimed by people who do not fit into the groups that can claim IBESA or IBJSA. This is mainly people who care for either young children or a disabled person e.g. your partner who cares for you may be able to claim Income Support instead of you claiming IBESA or IBJSA.
There are also several other groups of people who may be able to claim Income Support, ONE TO NOTE IS PEOPLE WHO ARE RECEIVING SSP may be able to claim a top up of Income Support, e.g. if they have a partner or a mortgage.
PENSION CREDIT (PC)
PC replaces the above means tested benefits for people (men or women) above the age at which women can claim Retirement Pension (RP) this age is slowly increasing up to 66 in October 2020. You can check the age at which you would become entitled at: www.gov.uk/calculate-state-pension.
There are two forms of PC, ’Guarantee Credit’ which is basically Income Support for older people, though considerably more generous and with different Capital rules and ’Savings Credit’ which can pay a small top up to people over 65 with e.g. a small personal pension, depending on a persons (or couples) income and savings they may receive an amount of one or both of these.
CHILD TAX CREDIT
Child Tax Credit, despite its name is a means tested benefit, it is administered by HMRC (tax authority) rather than the DWP,
CTC pays an amount for children/young people in addition to Child Benefit. Most people on low to middle income. With children/young people under 20 at school or 6th form or similar level education ( CTC does NOT apply if at University) will be entitled to some amount of CTC.
WORKING TAX CREDIT (WTC)
Also a benefit administered by HMRC, designed to boost the income of workers on a low income. To be eligible you have to work 30 hours. OR if you have children, OR receive certain sickness/ disability benefits 16 hours. It is more generous to disabled workers so could be useful if you can only work limited (at least 16) hours or are trying to ease yourself back into work.
HOUSING BENEFIT (HB)
This is administered by your local council, not the DWP.
Some amount of HB can be paid to almost anybody who rents their home whose income is low enough. There are maximum amounts that can be paid, even if your income is very low it may not cover all of your rent.
DISCRETIONARY HOUSING PAYMENTS (DHPs)
This is NOT a benefit in its own right, it is a purely discretionary payment that can be made to Housing Benefit (HB) claimants in exceptional circumstances, it is usually paid only for a limited period and could be any amount e.g. to allow you to give the required notice on a tenancy that is too expensive for Housing Benefit to cover all of the rent a DHB could top up the HB to cover all the rent during the notice period. It can be useful for disabled people who have an expensive tenancy and it is not possible for them to move to cheaper accommodation.
COUNCIL TAX SUPPORT (CTS)
This is also administered by your local council and in England the rules and even the name may vary between councils.
Can be claimed by anybody liable to pay Council Tax whose income/capital is low enough, any benefit due is taken off your Council Tax bill.
NB there are also various Council Tax reductions and exemptions that can reduce Council Tax bills. Contact your local Council for details.
SUPPORT FOR MORTGAGE INTEREST (SMI)
Again this is not a ‘stand alone’ benefit but an amount that can be paid towards a mortgage (interest payments only, not any capital repayment) for people who receive UC, IBESA, IBJSA, IS, GUARANTEE Pension Credit.
NB for people under Pension Credit age there is a 12 week waiting period before any SMI is paid so this means that some people need to claim even though they will not immediately be entitled to benefit , so that they get the waiting period started.
N.B. If you are in this situation seek advice from a debt advice organisation such as Stepchange or National Debtline as soon as possible DO NOT LET ARREARS BUILD UP.
FRINGE BENEFITSPeople who receive IBESA,IBJSA,IS, GUARANTEE PC and some of those on UC ,CTC and WTC are also entitled to various other form of help, e.g. free school meals, free travel to hospital for NHS treatment, free prescriptions.
There are some loans or grants available to help people in extreme need.
Some are administered by Jobcentre Plus, e.g. Budgeting Loans, interest free loans for essentials available to some people receiving Means Tested Benefits
Some by local Councils, who administer a ‘Crisis Fund’ to help anybody in extreme need, the type of help available and the conditions for receiving help vary widely between different Councils.
YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT BENEFITS AT: