I have just arrived in the UK. Can I apply for welfare benefits?
From 1 January 2014, if you come to the UK from abroad and would like to claim certain benefits, you must have been living in the UK for at least three months in order to satisfy the conditions of a test, known as the habitual residence test (HRT). EU citizens who are in the UK for at least three months and are working have similar access to the benefits as UK citizens.
From 1 March 2014, you will be asked to show that for the three months before your benefit claim your gross earnings from your work have been at least at the level at which employees start paying national insurance contributions, £156 per week from 6 April 2016. This rule also applies to self-employed.
How do I find out which benefits I can claim?
You can use an independent benefits calculator to find out what benefits you might qualify for. Visit http://benefits-calculator.turn2us.org.uk/AboutYou to find out more.
EEA jobseekers cannot claim means-tested Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), Universal Credit, Child Benefit, or Child Tax Credit within the first three months of arriving in the UK.
I have low income. What benefits can I apply for?
You can apply for tax credits that are designed to supplement the incomes of people who are bringing up children or working but are on low income. These tax credits include Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.
You can also apply for Housing Benefit to help you cover your rent payments and Council Tax Support to help you cover your council tax bill.
You can make a claim for Universal Credit. UC is a one single benefit that you apply for and receive, instead of a number of various payments but you have to live in a Universal Credit post code area.
Working Tax Credit
You may be entitled to Working Tax Credit if:
+ You or your partner is working enough hours a week and your income is below certain level.
+ You are over 25 years old with or without children.
+ You’re aged from 16 to 24 and have a child or a qualifying disability
You don’t need to have children to qualify. How much you receive depends on your income and circumstances.
Working Tax Credit is now included in Universal Credit for all new claimants.
Child Tax Credit
You may be entitled to Child Tax Credit for each child you are responsible for if they are:
+ under 16 years old
+ under 20 years old and stay in approved education or training
You are usually responsible for a child if they:
+ live with you all the time
+ they normally live with you and you are the main carer
+ they live in Europe but are financially dependent on you
You don’t need to be working to claim Child Tax Credit
How much you receive depends on your income and circumstances.
Child Tax Credit is now included in Universal Credit for all new claimants.
You should normally qualify for Child Benefit if you are responsible for a child:
+ under 16
+ under 20 if they stay in approved education or training. Visit https://www.gov.uk/child-benefit-16-19 to find out which courses are approved.
+ you also have to live in the UK.
Remember that only one person can get Child Benefit for a child.
You will immediately stop receiving Child Benefit if your child:
+ Stops attending approved education or training
+ Starts paid work for 24 hours a week
+ Starts receiving certain benefits in their own right.
I disagree with my benefit decision, what should I do?
If you disagree with your benefit decision, there is usually an option of appeal. This will, however, depend on the type of benefit you have applied for and the date the decision was made.
Usually, you have to make an appeal within one month of the date of a decision about most benefits. The first stage of an appeal process is called mandatory reconsideration.
Once you have asked for a mandatory reconsideration within a month of the date of a decision, your original decision will be reconsidered. You will receive a mandatory reconsideration notice informing you whether the decision has been changed.
If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can appeal to the tribunal within one month of the date of your mandatory reconsideration notice.
My benefits have stopped, what can I do?
This depends which benefits are affected. Some benefits, for example Jobseekers’ Allowance, stop automatically after 6 months unless you can prove that you have genuine chance of finding job that has to be evidenced by a job interview letter or a job offer. Others are linked to your level of income. DWP, HMRC or local authorities should explain a reason for changes in your benefit, usually in the letter they send you to let you know about the change.
I have received a letter saying my benefit has been overpaid and I am not sure what to do?
There could be a few reasons for benefit to be overpaid. This might be a mistake made by the benefit office, or the fact you didn’t inform them about your change of circumstances.
The benefit office should always give reasons why you have been overpaid. This is usually done in the form of a letter. If you think the reasons presented are not correct, you may contact the benefit office and ask for explanation. You can also provide relevant information and evidence in support of your claim. In most cases, this should sort out the problem. In case if the department doesn’t change their decision, you have again one month from the date of the decision letter to request a review.
Remember that different rules apply for different benefits.
For overpayments of (most) benefits paid by the Department for Work and Pensions issued after 28 October 2013, you should ask for a mandatory reconsideration of the decision before you can appeal it.
To dispute a Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction overpayment, contact your local authority.
To dispute an overpayment of Tax Credits or Child Benefit, contact HMRC.
To find out more about overpayments, please visit https://www.gov.uk/benefit-overpayments for more information.
I’m looking for work. Can I get Jobseekers’ Allowance?
If you are unemployed but capable of work, you may be able to apply for Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA), if you meet certain conditions.
You are 18 or over but below state pension age, you are not in full-time education and you must have £16,000 or less in savings.
You will normally have to live in the UK for at least 3 months before – you will be accepted as habitually resident/ you can pass the ‘habitual residence test’(HRT) in order to claim income-based Jobseekers’ Allowance during this period. This is because from 1 January 2014 you will not be able to satisfy the conditions of the HRT until you have been living in the UK for at least three months.
To claim JSA, you must either not be working at all, or working less than 16 hours a week.
You will have to actively look for work, be available to work, have a genuine chance of finding it and commit to the current Jobseekers’ Agreement or Claimant Commitment with the Jobcentre Plus Office.
Usually, once you are able to claim income-based Jobseekers’ Allowance as a jobseeker you can only have jobseeker status and claim benefit for 6 months. Your benefit may stop after 6 months if you do not provide evidence that you have a genuine chance of finding work. You will have to prove your genuine chance of finding work by providing a job offer or have a letter inviting you to dated job interviews. If you pass this test, your JSA may be extended for further three months but will stop after that.
Full-time students can’t usually get JSA until their course has officially finished – check the date with your college or university. You may be able to claim JSA during the summer holiday if you have children.
Part-time students. You can get JSA while studying part time (including part-time Open University courses) as long as:
+ you take a job if it’s offered to you
+ you do everything you can to look for work, as agreed with your work coach in Jobcentre Plus.If you want to take a short course (2 weeks or less), check with your work coach before you start.
Income based Jobseekers Allowance is now included in Universal Credit for all new claimants where full (digital) UC service applies.
Due to changes in law from 1 Apr 2014 you will not be able to claim housing benefit with your JSA unless you have a permanent residence status in the UK or you were a worker or self-employed person earning minimum £156 per week three months prior to your JSA claim.]
I am sick or disabled, or I look after someone who is – can I get any help?
You cannot receive Jobseekers’ Allowance if you are too ill to work. If you are too ill to work, you may be able to get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or other benefits for people who are sick or disabled.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)is a benefit for people aged 16-64 who are ill or disabled, and are unable to work.
You may be eligible for ESA if:
+ you are under State Pension age
+ you do not receive Statutory Sick Pay or Statutory Maternity Pay
+ you do not receive Jobseekers’ Allowance
You can apply for ESA if you are employed, self-employed, unemployed or a student on Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.
Remember, that there are certain rules when claiming ESA if you work.
Usually your ESA is not affected if you:
+work and earn up to £20 a week
+ work and earn up to £115.50 a week doing work as part of a treatment programme, local council or voluntary organisation
+ work less than 16 hours, and earn up to £104 a week for up to 52 weeks. This is called ‘permitted work’
There are two types of ESA, contribution-based ESA and income-related ESA. First one is based on your National Insurance contributions and the second one is based on your income and capital.
How much you will receive depends on your circumstances, for example your income, the type of ESA you qualify (that is what group you will be placed in) and finally where you are in the assessment process.
For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance/overview
Income based Employment and Support Allowance is now included in Universal Credit for all new claimants where full (digital) UC service applies. See our Universal Credit guide here . (link)