Make sure you claim all the benefit support you are entitled to receive.

We can help you identify if you are missing out and provide the practical support to claim all the financial support you are entitled to. You can also get benefits advice from One Lambeth Advice.

Claiming sickness, disability and carers benefits can be complicated. You may need an expert benefits check to make sure you are getting the right entitlements.

It can be difficult to know which benefits are the right benefits to claim. Below is a basic guide to benefits for people who have long term health problems and their carers.

Sections in this guide (click title to view)

1. Seeking advice

It can be complicated working out what benefits you are entitled to claim and whether or not you are receiving the right amount. Many welfare benefits have changed over the past few years.

You may be worried about the changes , getting advice could help. It's worth getting benefits advice from an Advice Agency to check whether you are receiving all the financial support you could receive. Each year millions of pounds of support goes unclaimed by ill and older people and their carers. Many benefits cannot be backdated so it’s important not to delay seeking advice .

Benefit advisors will help you consider all the options and provide advice if you have been refused benefit or support reduced. Details of advice services are listed in section nine of this guide

2. People over pension age

Many pensioners miss out on extra weekly income because they do not claim all the benefits they are entitled to. People over state pension may be able to claim a range of benefits and concessions depending on their circumstances. To check whether you have reached state pension age, please visit GOV.UK check your State Pension age.

Your State Pension age is the earliest age you can start receiving your State Pension. It may be different to the age you can get a workplace or personal pension. Your State Pension age is worked out based on your gender and date of birth.

The most common benefits people miss out on are:

  • Attendance Allowance - - you may be entitled to Attendance Allowance if you are over state pension age or over and need help to manage your personal care needs because of illness or disability.
  • Council Tax and Housing Benefit - you may be entitled to claim Housing Benefit to help you pay your rent and/or Council Tax Benefit to help you pay your council tax. These benefits can be paid to people on low income and people with modest incomes who have made savings for their retirement.
  • Pension Credit - Pension Credit gives extra money to people with modest incomes, including people who have made savings for their retirement. Pension Credit (PC) is made up of two parts:

  • Guarantee Credit provides a guaranteed level of income for people over State Pension age.

  • Guarantee Credit is worked out by comparing your income with an amount the Government says you need to live on. Savings Credit is paid to people aged 65 and over. If you reached State Pension age after 5 April 2016, you cannot make a new claim for it. Existing claimants can continue to receive it.

There is no upper capital limit. It can be paid to home owners, tenants and people in other circumstances such as living with family or friends

If you have a disability, are a carer, have children or have to pay service charges or other housing costs, you may be eligible for a higher amount. These are complex areas so s contact a local advice service to get a benefit check if this applies.

You claim PC as a single person or jointly as a couple if you have a partner. To claim PC, you must:

  • have reached State Pension age
  • meet the income-related

3. Mixed age couples

There are new rules which apply to mixed age couple where one partner is over pension age and the other is not. For housing benefit claims made after 15 May 2019:

  • If you’re a mixed age couple and you make a housing benefit claim after 15 May 2019, you’ll be directed to claim Universal Credit instead, unless you’re in receipt of pension credit.
  • If your claim is for Specified Accommodation, Temporary Accommodation, or you’ve been in receipt of a benefit with a Severe Disability Premium, then your housing benefit claim will be assessed and you won’t be directed to claim Universal Credit.
  • If you’re a mixed age couple and you make new a Pension Credit claim after 15 May 2019

4. Ill or disabled people

Do you experience long term ill health or a disability? Are you, or is someone you know caring for someone who has support needs? If so you may be missing out on claiming benefits you are entitled to.

If your health condition stops you doing things, or you need help from others to mange day to day activities or your personal care, you could be entitled to:

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP) - if you are under state pension age you may be able to claim Personal Independence Payment if you need help with your personal care or with getting around outside. If you already get Disability Living Allowance (DLA) it is a good idea to get advice from an advice agency before claiming Personal Independence Payment (PIP) as your PIP award could be higher or lower than your existing DLA award. You can check if you are under state pension age by visiting check your state pension age
  • Attendance Allowance (AA) - if you are aged 65 or over and need help because of illness or disability and you don’t already get Disability
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) - a benefit for people who are unable to work due to illness or disability. There are two types of ESA - you may be entitled to one or both of them:
  • Contributory ESA is based on your National Insurance contributions
  • Income-related ESA depends on your income and savings

Which benefits you claim will depend on your age and how your health problems impact you.

Getting PIP, DLA or AA may also help you and your carer if you have one, qualify for higher levels of means tested benefits. It may also help you have access to other help, such as exemption from road tax, grants for home insulation.

Even if you claim these benefits you may not be receiving the right level so its still worth getting a benefit check. If you have applied for these benefits but have been turned down you may also want to seek advice.

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5. Children, young people and their carers

If you care for a child who needs additional support because of long term ill-health or disability you may be able to claim extra benefits and tax credits. This includes families caring for children who have emotional and behavioural problems, long-term illnesses (such as asthma and eczema), developmental delay or other learning disability.

The main benefit you may be able to claim is called Disability Living Allowance (DLA). DLA is a tax-free benefit which can be worth more than £5,000 a year. It is paid to help meet the extra cost of bringing up a child with long-term additional support needs.

If you get DLA other benefits you receive (such as Income Support, Tax Credits, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit) may increase. If you do not already receive these benefits, you may become entitled to claim because DLA has been awarded.

If you are a carer you may also be able to get other benefits such as Carer's Allowance.

6. Carers

Are you, or is someone you know caring for someone who has support needs? If so you may be missing out on claiming extra financial help.

If you spend at least 35 hours per week caring for a severely disabled person you may also be to claim Carer's Allowance (CA). It doesn't matter whether you live with the person you care for or live somewhere else.

To qualify for CA the person you are caring for must be getting either Attendance Allowance (AA), Disability Living Allowance (DLA) care component paid or the daily Living Component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP). You must also:

  • not be in full time education
  • have earnings which are below £123 per week after certain allowable deductions have been made.

Housing benefit and Council Tax Benefit

If you are on a low income you may be entitled to claim Housing Benefit to help you pay your rent and/or Council Tax Benefit to help you pay your council tax. These benefits can be paid to people on low income and people with modest incomes who have made savings for their retirement.

The benefits of the person you care for

If the person you care for receives a severe disability premium think carefully before claiming a UC carer’s element as the overall impact can be a significant loss of benefit overall.

In some situations, the person you care for can lose money if you start to receive CA or UC carer’s element. This can happen if the person you care for receives a severe disability premium or addition as part of their Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, ESA, JSA, or Council Tax Support. This is worth an extra £65.85 a week. Their severe disability premium or addition is not affected if you are awarded an underlying entitlement to CA only for example CA is not being paid.

Other benefits and underlying entitlement

CA has a complicated relationship with other benefits and because of this, some carers miss out on their full entitlement. It is possible your CA claim can affect the benefits entitlement of the person you care for.

You cannot normally receive CA and another ‘earnings replacement’ benefit such as State Pension because of overlapping benefit rules. If the other benefit pays less than the weekly CA rate of £66.15, you are entitled to a top-up of CA to that amount. If the other benefit pays more than £66.15 a week and you qualify for CA, you are awarded an ‘underlying entitlement’ only. You are not paid any CA, but the underlying entitlement might help you to qualify for higher rates of means-tested benefits like Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support (or Council Tax Reduction).

These benefits can include an extra amount called a carer’s premium or addition. An underlying entitlement to CA can be worthwhile if you have a low income, because it may allow you to claim these benefits, or get an increase, for the first time. Many carers, especially over State Pension age, could be helped by the underlying entitlement rules.

Example Mary is 66 and has an income of £175.00 a week, from State Pension (£130.00) and private pension (£45.00). She does not qualify for Pension Credit as her income is more than £167.25 – the basic Pension Credit rate. Mary cares for her sister who gets Attendance Allowance. She applies for CA but only gets an underlying entitlement because her State Pension is more than the rate of CA, £66.15 a week. As she has CA entitlement, her overall Pension Credit entitlement is now £204.10 a week – the basic rate of £167.25 plus a carer addition of £36.85. This means she is now entitled to Pension Credit of £29.10 a week to bring her income up to the Pension Credit rate.

If you are awarded CA or an underlying entitlement, make sure you check whether you can get other means-tested benefits. It’s a good idea to get a benefit check from an independent advice agency

Universal Credit (UC) and Carers

Universal Credit and Carers is a new benefit for working age people. UC can include an extra amount or ‘element’ if you are a carer. You do not have to claim CA to qualify for the UC carer’s element, but you have to satisfy all the CA conditions, apart from the earnings condition. This means you can get the UC carers element if you earn more than £123 per week as long as you meet the other CA conditions. If you qualify for the UC carer’s element (£36.97 a week), you are exempt from the benefit cap, but the person you care will lose their severe disability premium if they receive this which is an addition worth £65.85 a week.

7. Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a monthly payment for people who are of working age, on low income or are out of work. It’s being rolled out in stages across the UK and is replacing other benefits. How much you’ll get depends on your circumstances, including your income and how many children you have.

Universal Credit is a benefit that is managed online and claimed via Universal Credit online. Whilst UC is designed to be claimed online there is provision to make a claim by telephone or face to face if you are unable to make a claim online or do not have access to the internet. You can request assistance from a local Jobcentre Plus office or by calling the UC helpline. If you need extra support to cope with online claims and other issues, the government funds the ‘Help to claim’ service at Citizens Advice offices

What is UC

Universal Credit (UC) is a means-tested non-taxable benefit to cover basic living expenses. There are additional amounts if you are unable to work due to sickness or disability, for carers, children and help towards rent and housing costs. The government department with responsibility for social security benefits is the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). UC replaces the following six ‘legacy benefits’ payable to working age people, in or out of work:

  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (IB-JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (IR-ESA)
  • Income Support (IS)
  • Housing Benefit (HB)
  • Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Working Tax Credit (WTC) (‘tax credits’)

You can no longer make new claims for legacy benefits and you must claim UC instead (see exceptions below).

Exceptions

There are exceptions to the rule that no new claims for legacy benefits can be made , there are listed below :

  • HB, ESA or JSA if the person claiming already receives a severe disability premium in a legacy benefit already in payment
  • HB claims if you are in specified accommodation
  • HB claims if you and your partner have reached State Pension age
  • a claim for the other tax credit if you are already in receipt of CTC/WTC
  • renewal CTC/WTC claims if you are already in receipt of them.

Universal Credit is paid once a month, usually into your bank, building society or credit union account. If you’re not able to open a bank, building society or credit union account, call the Universal Credit helpline to arrange a different way of getting paid.

It usually takes around 5 weeks to get your first payment. If you need help with your living costs while you wait for your first payment, you can apply for an advance
You will need to apply for the Council Tax Support separately.

The wait before your first payment, is made up of a one month assessment period and up to
7 days for the payment to reach your account.

The amount you get depends on your circumstances such as;

  • being single
  • a couple
  • having children
  • a disability
  • working
  • having housing costs like rent.

This total amount may be reduced by certain incomes you may have, such as earnings. The amount may be increased for;

  • carers
  • children with disability
  • those with certain levels of incapacity for work.

8. Refer someone for benefits advice

Social Care, health or other care professionals can refer clients for benefits advice; please complete the Every Pounds Counts referral form and email it to EveryPoundCounts@lambeth.gov.uk.

Alternatively you can send it by post:

Every Pound Counts
Lambeth Adults' and Community Services
Phoenix House
10 Wandsworth Road
London
SW8 2LL

Or you can get help from the One Lambeth Advice Service

9. Useful websites

Details of local Advice Agencies who provide welfare law advice

Information on local advice agencies is available from Adviceguide.

Local advice agencies include

Directory of community resources and for older people aged 55 from Age UK and for people with mental health support needs from http://lambethmind.org.uk/directory/

Useful national websites