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Check if you can get Income Support

This advice applies to England

You might get Income Support if you’re struggling to pay bills and you’re getting, or recently stopped getting, a benefit with a severe disability premium.

Universal Credit has replaced Income Support for most people. Check if you can get Universal Credit.

Check if you're eligible for Income Support

You can only make a new claim for Income Support if you’re getting, or recently stopped getting, a benefit with a severe disability premium (SDP).

You might be getting an SDP with:

  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit

Check your award letter to see if you’re getting an SDP.

If you’re not getting an SDP you can check if you’re eligible for an SDP on GOV.UK.

If you recently stopped getting a benefit with an SDP and you’re still eligible for an SDP, you can make a new claim for Income Support. You must claim within a month of your old benefit stopping.

If you’re eligible for an SDP but it’s not included in your current benefit, contact your nearest Citizens Advice.

You must also be 16 or over and meet all of the following:

  • be pregnant, a carer, a single parent looking after a child under 5, or, for example, a refugee learning English, aged 21 or under without parental support and not in advanced education
  • working less than 16 hours a week (you might still be eligible if you do unpaid voluntary work or go on unpaid parental or paternity leave)
  • under Pension Credit qualifying age - check this on GOV.UK
  • on a low income or have no income
  • don't have savings of more than £16,000

If all of these points don’t apply, you might still be able to claim Income Support in some cases, if either:

  • you can't work because you're disabled or a carer
  • you're off work and getting Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance
  • you're aged 16-20 and in full-time education or training (excluding university) 

If you're from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein

To apply for Income Support you need to show:

  • you have a right to claim benefits in the UK - this is called a ‘right to reside’ and depends on things like your work, family and personal situation
  • the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man is your main home and you plan to stay - this is known as being ‘habitually resident’

If you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years or more

You should apply for ‘settled status’. If you have settled status, you automatically have a right to reside.

Check how to apply for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Your Income Support might stop if you don’t have settled status by 31 December 2020.

If you’ve lived in the UK for less than 5 years

You should apply for ‘pre-settled status’ - if you have it, you might be able to get Income Support. You’ll still need to show:

Check how to apply for pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Find out more about staying in the UK after Brexit.

If you're a returning UK resident

You’ll need to give evidence to show the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man is your main home and you plan to stay. This is known as being ‘habitually resident’.

Check how to prove you’re habitually resident.

If you're a refugee

You can usually claim Income Support if you’re a refugee and you’re learning English for more than 15 hours a week. You’ll need to have started the course less than a year after you arrived in England, Scotland or Wales. You'll only be able to claim Income Support for up to 9 months.

Check the extra conditions for your circumstances

Depending on your circumstances, there are some extra conditions you’ll need to meet before you can claim.

If you're pregnant

You can usually get Income Support from 11 weeks before your due date until 15 weeks after your baby is born.

If you can’t work because you’re pregnant, you can claim Income Support sooner than 11 weeks before your due date.

If you're a carer

If you already get Carers Allowance there are no extra conditions for you to claim Income Support. Getting Income Support won’t affect your Carer’s Allowance, or any benefits claimed by the person you care for.

If you don’t claim Carers Allowance, there are extra conditions that you have to satisfy to show that you are caring. The person you care for must be getting one of the following benefits, or must have applied for one of them within the last 26 weeks and be awaiting the decision:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • the care component of Disability Living Allowance at the middle or highest rate
  • the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment

You’ll also have to explain how you provide regular and substantial care for that person. You can get Income Support even if you’re caring for someone temporarily.

Getting Income Support won’t affect any benefits claimed by the person you care for.

If you're looking after someone

You can claim Income Support as a single person if you’re:

  • aged 18 or over and looking after a child under 5
  • aged 16 or 17 and looking after a child of any age
  • looking after a foster child who’s under 16
  • adopting a child (your claim starts after the child is placed with you)

You can claim Income Support as a single person, or in a couple, if you’re:

  • looking after a child who’s sick or disabled and gets a qualifying benefit
  • looking after a family member who's temporarily ill
  • looking after a child under 16 while the person who usually looks after them is away or ill
  • a woman who’s given birth in the last 15 weeks, or you’ve had a miscarriage in the last 15 weeks

If you’re looking after a child who’s sick or disabled, you can claim Income Support even if you’re working more than 16 hours a week. You’ll still need to be on a low income to qualify.

If you’re on unpaid parental leave

You can claim Income Support while on unpaid parental leave if you were getting one of the following benefits:

  • Housing Benefit
  • working tax credits
  • child tax credits, if you got more than the family element

You can’t claim Income Support while on paid parental leave.

If you’re on paternity leave

You can claim Income Support while on paternity leave as long as you:

  • aren’t entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay
  • don’t get paternity pay from your employer

If you’re getting paternity pay, you might still be able to get Income Support if you were entitled to housing benefit or tax credits the day before you went on paternity leave.

If you're in full-time education or training

You might also be able to get Income Support while you’re studying or training full-time. You need to be between 16 and 20 and one of the following:

  • a parent
  • living away from parents or guardians
  • a refugee learning English

Most education counts, as long as it's below the level of a university degree - for example GCSE, A-level and NVQ.

If you’re in training, it needs to be an unpaid, government-approved scheme - for example a Foundation Apprenticeship or Traineeship. 

You might be able to claim Income Support during the summer holidays if you’re:

  • a single parent who’s studying

  • in a couple where you’re both studying and have children

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you aren’t sure whether your education or training means you can can claim Income Support.

Claiming as a couple

If you’re married, in a civil partnership or living together, you’ll need to give your partner’s details on the application. To qualify, your partner needs to be:

  • under Pension Credit qualifying age
  • working less than 24 hours a week
  • not getting Universal Credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance

Your partner’s work, income and savings will also be taken into account.

Check you're on a low income

Your income needs to be less than a certain amount to claim Income Support - this amount depends on your circumstances.

Your income can’t be higher than the amount you’d get from Income Support each week - check how much you can get.

When you work out your earnings, you can exclude the first:

  • £5 a week if you’re single with no children
  • £10 a week if you’re claiming as a couple
  • £20 a week if you’re a single parent, disabled or a carer

Some other benefits also count towards your income, for example working tax credits or Carer’s Allowance.

If you're over 18, you can use the Turn2us benefits calculator to work out if you can get Income Support alongside your other benefits.

Work out your capital

You can’t get Income Support if your capital is worth more than £16,000. This includes your partner’s capital if you’re in a couple.

Capital is any money or property you have - for example your savings. It doesn’t include personal possessions like a car or furniture.

Your home doesn’t count as part of your capital if:

  • you live there
  • you’ve moved out but your partner still lives there - for example if you’re living in a care home

Your home does count as part of your capital if you and your partner both live somewhere else.

If you've separated and your ex-partner still lives in the home you jointly own, the property won't count as capital for the first 26 weeks of your claim. If your ex-partner carries on living in the property as a single parent, the property won't count as capital for as long as they live there.

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