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Check if you can get benefits if you're from the EU

This advice applies to Scotland

You might be able to claim benefits if you’re from the EU or European Economic Area (EEA) and you live in the UK. The EEA includes EU countries and also Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. You might also be able to claim benefits if you’re from Switzerland.

You’ll need to prove different things about your life here for each benefit you apply for. You might need to give evidence that:

  • you have settled status, pre-settled status or the right to claim benefits in the UK - this is called a ‘right to reside’
  • 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’
  • you meet other criteria for the benefit you’re claiming - for example you earn less than a certain amount or you’re ill

Applying for pre-settled or settled status

You should apply for pre-settled or settled status now if you can. Having pre-settled or settled status can help you get benefits, and you’ll need it if you want to stay in the UK after 30 June 2021.

You can apply for:

  • settled status if you’ve been in the UK for 5 years or more

  • pre-settled status if you’ve lived in the UK for less than 5 years – and were living here before 31 December 2020  

Your family members might also be able to apply – even if they arrive in the UK after 31 December 2020.

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

If you have any questions about the EU Settlement Scheme or need help applying, you can contact Citizens Advice Scotland’s free EU Citizens Support Service.

Check what you need to prove

First check what you need to prove for the benefits you want to apply for. You’ll then need to find out if you’re eligible.

If you’re struggling to pay for food, you could get help from a foodbank or other crisis support.

Your local council might also be able to help you. Find your local council on GOV.UK.

If you’re on a low income or you don’t work

You might be able to claim Universal Credit.

Universal Credit can help if you:

  • are on a low income or don’t have much money
  • need help paying your rent or mortgage
  • are looking for work
  • have an illness or condition that makes it difficult for you to work

If you don't have settled status, you’ll have to show you have a right to reside in the UK. You’ll also have to prove you’re habitually resident in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man.

Check if you can claim Universal Credit.

You might also be able to get a community care grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund.

If you’re over pension age

You can’t claim Universal Credit - check which other benefits you can get.

If you’re ill, disabled or caring for someone

You might be able to get extra money to help cover your living costs.

You’ll have to show you’re habitually resident in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man and have lived in England, Scotland or Wales for 2 out of the last 3 years.

If you have an illness, disability or mental health condition

You might be able to claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – you must have pre-settled or settled status.

If your child is ill or disabled

You might be able to claim Disability Living Allowance for your child – they must have pre-settled or settled status.

If you’re caring for someone

If you care for someone for 35 hours or more a week and they’re claiming a disability benefit, you might be able to claim Carer’s Allowance – you must have pre-settled or settled status.

If you’re aged 16 to 18, care for someone for at least 16 hours a week and don’t get Carer’s Allowance, you might be able to get a Young Carer Grant.

If you’re over pension age and need help with personal care

You might be able to claim Attendance Allowance – you must have pre-settled or settled status.

If you have children

You might be able to get extra money to help cover the costs of looking after a child.

Check if you can claim Child Benefit.

If you don't have settled status, you’ll have to show you have a right to reside in the UK. 

You might also be able to claim Universal Credit.

If you don't have settled status, you’ll have to show you have a right to reside in the UK. You’ll also have to prove you’re habitually resident in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man.

Check if you can claim Universal Credit.

If you’re a parent or carer, you might also be able to apply for a Best Start Grant payment

If your child is ill or disabled

You might be able to claim Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for your child.

You’ll have to show all of the following:

  • your child has pre-settled or settled status
  • you’re habitually resident in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man
  • you've lived in England, Scotland or Wales for 2 out of the last 3 years

You don’t need a right to reside to claim DLA.

If you’re over pension age

You might be able get money to help cover the costs of looking after a child by claiming Pension Credit.

If you don't have settled status, you’ll have to show you have a right to reside in the UK. You’ll also need to show you’re habitually resident in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man.

Check if you can claim Pension Credit.

If you’re pension age or over

You can't claim Universal Credit, but there are other benefits you can claim instead.

If you’re on a low income or you don’t work

There are benefits that can help you with your living costs.

If you don't have settled status, you’ll have to show you have a right to reside in the UK. You’ll also need to show you’re habitually resident in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man.

If you need to boost your income, you might be able to claim Pension Credit.

If you need help with your rent, you might be able to claim Housing Benefit.

If you’re ill, disabled or caring for someone

You might be able to get extra money to help cover your living costs.

You’ll have to show you’re habitually resident in the UK, Isle of Man, Channel Islands or Ireland and have lived in Great Britain for 2 out of the last 3 years.

You might be able to claim Disability Living Allowance for your child – they must have pre-settled or settled status.

If you care for someone for 35 hours or more a week and they’re claiming a disability benefit, you might be able to claim Carer’s Allowance.  You must have pre-settled or settled status.

If you need help with personal care, you might be able to claim Attendance Allowance. You must have pre-settled or settled status.

If you have children

You might be able get money to help cover the costs of looking after a child by claiming Pension Credit.

If you don't have settled status, you’ll have to show you have a right to reside in the UK. You’ll also have to show you’re habitually resident in the UK, Isle of Man, Channel Islands or Ireland.

Check if you can claim Pension Credit.

You might also be able to claim Child Benefit.

If you don't have settled status, you’ll need to have lived in the UK for at least 3 months and have a right to reside here.

Check if you can claim Child Benefit.

If you're receiving benefits from an EEA country

You might still be able to claim some benefits in the UK. For example, if you're working and getting a benefit from an EEA country, you might be able to get Universal Credit.

When you apply for benefits in the UK, give details about the benefits you’re getting from another country, including how much money you get.

The amount of money you’re getting from your other benefits might affect what benefits you can get in the UK.

Check if you have a right to reside

To claim most benefits you need to a right to reside now. The easiest way to prove you have a right to reside is by getting settled or pre-settled status.

You don’t need to prove you have a right to reside to claim some benefits, but you will need pre-settled or settled status. These benefits are:

  • Attendance Allowance

  • Carer’s Allowance

  • Disability Living Allowance

  • Personal Independence Payment

If you have settled status or pre-settled status

If you have settled status you automatically have a right to reside and you can apply for benefits.

If you have pre-settled status and another right to reside you can apply for benefits - check if you have a right to reside.

If you have pre-settled status and don’t have another right to reside

A court has decided people with pre-settled status have a right to reside. This means you might be able to get benefits. 

It might take longer than usual to get a decision if you apply for benefits using pre-settled status as your right to reside. If your benefits application is refused, talk to an adviser.

If you don’t have settled status or pre-settled status

You can claim benefits if you have a right to reside now – and you also had a right to reside on 31 December 2020.

You might have a right to reside for different reasons – for example if you or a member of your family is working, or you’ve recently stopped working.

You can find out more about the right to reside and check if you have one.

Check if you can pass the habitual residence test

You can find out more about the habitual residence test and check if you can pass.

You don’t need to pass the habitual residence test to claim:

  • Child Benefit
  • contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

If you’re not sure if you can claim benefits, speak to an adviser from your nearest Citizens Advice.

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