You may need to claim benefits if you are out of work, sick, disabled, bereaved or have retired. Some benefits can make claiming help with your housing costs easier if you are renting or are a home-owner. There are many different types of benefits available and it’s important to check whether you are getting everything you are entitled to.
Since 2013 a number of benefits, including housing benefit, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance and working tax credit, have been replaced by a new benefit called Universal Credit.
What benefits can I claim?
You may be eligible for attendance allowance if you are over 65 and need help with day-to-day living because of a physical or mental illness or disability. This is a non-means tested benefit.
If your husband, wife or civil partner died before 6 April 2017, you might be entitled to bereavement allowance for up to 52 weeks. This payment is based on her/his National Insurance contributions. If they died on or after 6 April 2017, you might be able to claim bereavement support payment instead.
This is money to help full-time carers aged 16 or over who do not earn more than £95 per week from another job or who are not in full-time education. However, it may affect your other benefits and/or benefits the person you look after is entitled to so get advice before you claim.
Child benefit can be paid to any person who is bringing up children. You get a set amount for each child. If you, or your partner, have an individual income of more than £50,000 you might have to pay a tax charge. To read more visit Money Advice Service.
Council Tax Reduction
Council Tax Reduction replaced council tax benefit in April 2013 and is run by your local council. Each council is able to decide which group of people are entitled to a reduction in their council tax and how much they are entitled to, depending upon the needs of the local area. There are still some rules set by the UK Government, including help for pensioners.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
ESA is a benefit paid to people who have a limited capability to work because of sickness or disability. You may be eligible even if you can’t get statutory sick pay. There are two elements to ESA:
Help with heating costs
There are a number of ways you can get help with heating costs during the cold winter months – especially if you are elderly, disabled or on a low income. Click here for more details.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
PIP is a benefit for people who have a physical / mental disability and need help participating in everyday life or find it difficult to get around. It replaces Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for new claims for people aged 16 to 64. Any one already receiving DLA will gradually be asked to make a new claim for PIP.
To qualify claimants need to undergo a medical assessment. There are two parts to the assessment – one looks at your need for day-to-day care and the other at your mobility needs. These are assessed separately and are referred to as the ‘daily living component’ and the ‘mobility component’ of PIP. Each component has two rates – the standard rate and the enhanced rate.
To check how PIP may affect you, click here.
Universal Credit is a new benefit, supporting people out of work or on a low income. It is gradually replacing many other benefits – including housing benefit, income support and income based jobseeker’s allowance.
Where can I find out more about the benefits I can claim?
Up to date information about each of the benefits listed above is available on the Gov.UK website
Use the entitledto Benefits Calculator to see what benefits you might be able to claim.
If you have a disability, the Disability Rights UK website has various factsheets about the different benefits that you might be able to claim.
How are benefits calculated?
For most benefits, the amount you get depends on:
- your income (combined with your partner’s, if you are living together), including any redundancy payments you may have received
- any savings or other assets you (or your partner) have
- your age and personal circumstances (such as whether you have children or are part of a couple).
Many advice centres have staff who specialise in benefits. They can check whether you are getting all the help you are entitled to and that the amount you get has been calculated correctly.
Is there a maximum amount of benefit I can claim?
For many people there is a limit on the total amount of benefits they can claim. This is known as the benefit cap.
In Wales, the total amount of benefits that can be received by any individual or family is capped at:
- £384.62 per week for single parents and couples with children (£20,000 per year)
- £257.69 per week for single people (£13,400 per year).
The benefit cap is likely to apply to you if you are out of work and claiming benefits such as Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance (and you are not in the support group). Housing Benefit counts towards the maximum amount of benefit that can be paid so you may find that this is reduced.
The benefit cap does not apply if you are a pensioner or are working and receiving Working Tax Credit. It also does not apply if you are claiming certain disability benefits. For more information see our page on the benefit cap.
How do I make an application?
To apply for most benefits you will need to fill in a form, which you can get from your local council office or you can call the Jobcentre Plus benefits claim line on 0800 055 66 88. You can ask if you are not sure which form you need to complete. You should fill in and return any paperwork as quickly as possible. If possible, hand in your completed form in person and get a receipt in case there are problems later. Take photocopies of everything if you can.
You will normally need to provide your national insurance number and possibly proof of your identity (such as a birth certificate) and proof of your income (such as your benefit book or wage slips). If you don’t provide this information your claim could be stopped or delayed. If you are having problems providing this information, get advice.
See our checklists: