What benefits are you entitled to?

Every year billions of pounds in legitimate benefit payments are not claimed by those who are eligible. This guide will tell you what financial assistance is available, so you can make sure you are paid what you are entitled to.
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There can be a social stigma around claiming benefits, but it is important to remember you are entitled to them for a reason. 

Think of claiming benefits in the same way you would using any other service that is funded or subsidised by the government, whether that is borrowing a book from the library, hopping on a bus or visiting your GP.

This guide will cover a selection of benefits you may be eligible for, depending on your circumstances. To make sure you are aware of all the financial aid you are entitled to, use a benefits calculator.

Family support

If you have children, or your household includes dependents who are children, you could be entitled to a variety of benefits. 

If your household income is under £60,000 per year and your children are under 16, you should be entitled to claim child benefit. It is paid up until 31 August following your child’s 16th birthday. However, you can continue to claim until they turn 20 if they remain in full time education.

You can find out more about child benefit and how to apply here.

Having children in your household who are dependent upon your income will also affect your eligibility for low income benefits, as well as how much those benefits will pay. Use a benefits calculator to work out exactly what you are entitled to.

Other benefits designed for families and those with children include:

Click the links above to find out more and how to apply.

In addition to any government support you might be entitled to, if you’re expecting a baby your employer may be legally obligated to pay you maternity, paternity or adoption pay. If you or your partner are having a baby, or you are about to adopt a child, and you have been at the same company for over six months, then you will be eligible.

Find out more and how to apply for maternity pay leave, paternity pay leave and adoption pay leave

Disability support

If you have a recognised disability or a long-term illness, you should be able to claim benefits to meet your regular living costs.

The most significant benefit for you will likely be the personal independence payment (PIP). This is for anyone aged 16-64 with a health condition or disability that restricts or otherwise affects their daily life.

You will need to be assessed in order to make a claim, and the amount you will be paid depends on how your condition affects your life. You can find out how to apply for PIP here.

If you disagree with the results of your PIP assessment, you have a right to challenge it. Find out more on the Citizens Advice website here.

Other benefits that might be helpful if you have a disability are:

If someone who cares for you for more than 35 hours a week earns less than £120 a week after tax and expenses, they may be entitled to carer’s allowance. They do not have to be related to you, though only one person who cares for you can claim.

If your household income and savings are below a certain amount, you are entitled to income-related support. This should help you meet living costs that you would otherwise struggle to pay.

Universal credit is the main benefit paid to you if you are ineligible for disability benefits and are out of work or on an insufficient income. According to the government, you will not be expected to look for work if you are a full-time carer or a lone parent with young children (under five).

To claim, you will need to be either:

  • Out of work

  • On a low income 

  • Recently made redundant

You will also need to:

  • Be over 18 (or 16 in some circumstances)

  • Be under state pension age (or have a partner who is)

  • Have less than £16,000 in savings (any partner’s savings will count towards this too) 

  • Live in the UK

Find out more and how to apply for Universal credit here.

You could also make a claim if your circumstances have changed while you are currently paid through any of the benefit schemes that the government is replacing with universal credit. These include working tax credits, income support, housing benefit, and child tax credits.

Other income-related benefits include:

Click the links above to find out more and how to apply.

You may be able to get extra support from your local council. Contact your local council to find out what is available in your area.

If you cannot find the income support you need through government benefits, you may be able to get help through charity grants. You can search for grants using this great tool from Turn2Us.

Looking for work support

If you are out of work and currently searching for a job, you might be entitled to claim benefits. These could help you meet certain costs related to finding a new job, but it is unlikely they will replace the income you have lost.

Your best option is likely to be new style jobseeker's allowance (JSA), though you may be able to claim universal credit as well as or instead of JSA. 

Your eligibility for JSA will depend on whether you've paid enough national insurance contributions while you were employed. It is not a means-tested benefit, so what you are paid will not be affected by how much money you have in the bank or your personal circumstances.

JSA is capped at £59.20 per week for under 25s and £74.70 for over 25s. This is not enough to replace a salary, so if you do not have savings or other income you should also apply for universal credit.

You can find out more about JSA, including and how to apply, here.

The government provides support for people over a certain age through a few different benefits.

The most notable example is the state pension, which is available if you are over the state pension age and have built up the required level of national insurance contributions.

You can find out more about the state pension and how to apply here.

If you are of pension age, you can also get one-off winter fuel payments every year. Those over pension age may be able to claim attendance allowance too. This is for if you need frequent help or supervision with day-to-day tasks such as dressing or washing.

How to apply for benefits

You can apply for benefits through the GOV.UK website using the links in this page. Click on the benefit you want to apply for to go to the government’s application page.

You could also contact the universal credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.

Even if you can claim some of the benefits listed above, they may not be enough to support you and your family. If you continue to have financial struggles after applying for benefits, you can contact Citizen’s Advice for independent help and advice. You can also use this great tool to search for grants through charity Turn2Us.

About Joel Kempson

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