How to get help with benefits.
The benefits system is complex and many changes have come in over the past few years - with more still to come. Getting benefits can depend on:
- if you are working full time, part time or not at all
- if you have a disability or a health condition
- your age
- who lives with you
- if you are caring for somebody
Some benefits are based on whether you have paid enough National Insurance - these are called 'contribution-based' benefits. Others are paid because you are entitled to a basic level of income whether or not you have paid enough contributions, these means-tested benefits are also referred to as 'income-based' benefits.
Some benefits do not depend on either of these things, but are paid because you have additional needs such as a disability.
Capital and savings
For benefits that are means-tested or 'income based', if you have capital of over £16,000 you are not entitled to any help. Pension Credit is different - you can have over this amount and still qualify. Capital can include:
- stocks and shares
- property other than your main home
Living in the UK
For many benefits you need to be resident in the UK and have been here for a certain period before claiming. You may not be able to claim if you are subject to certain immigration controls. In these situations before making a claim.
Some benefits are given because of your care needs. This means that you need help with looking after yourself or you need supervision because you are a danger to yourself or others. If you have a terminal illness you are automatically treated as having care needs.
The state pension age is under review and may change in the future.
More information and advice
Some government helplines are listed under the individual benefit information; there are also phone contacts (opens in a new window) for the main disability benefits.
Applying for benefits
You can also apply for benefits with them online or over the telephone.
Benefits calculators (opens in a new window) allow you (or someone on your behalf) to enter information about yourself online and find which benefits are available to you.
You may be able to get a home visit from a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) officer to help you with your benefit claim, for example if you are housebound.
Benefits calculators(opens in a new window)(Opens in a new window) allow you (or someone on your behalf) to enter information about yourself online and find which benefits are available to you.
If you are on a low income and/or in receipt of certain benefits you may be able to get a reduction on your Council Tax bill. Generally you will need to be resident in the house you are claiming for, live in the UK and have less than a certain amount of capital. Each council runs its own scheme so you need to check the rules for where you live:
For some of the income-related means-tested benefits, including Universal Credit, you may be able to get some help with your mortgage interest payments. The rules on this are complex so it is a good idea to speak to a financial advisor.
If you are seeking work and living on a low income you will now need to claim Universal Credit(opens in a new window)(Opens in a new window) instead, but you should check any entitlement to contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance as well.
Deferring your State Pension
You don't have to claim your State Pension when you reach your State Pension age. If you want, you can put off your claim and get extra pension when you do claim.
You can get more information about deferring your State Pension (opens in a new window).
You can claim Universal Credit (opens in a new window) if you do not qualify for contribution based Employment and Support Allowance.
There is more information about how to apply for Statutory Sick Pay (opens in a new window).
Winter Fuel Payment
Find out more about the Winter Fuel Payment (opens in a new window).
Cold Weather Payment
Find out more about Cold Weather Payments (opens in a new window).
Warm Homes Discount
Find out more about Warm Home Discount Scheme (opens in a new window).
The government sets an upper limit (opens in a new window) on how much you can receive in total from certain benefits.