Benefits you can claim

Benefits you can claim

Access to work

If you have a disability or health condition, a grant from Access to Work can pay for practical support to help you start work, stay in work or move into self-employment.

An Access to Work grant can cover such costs as:

  • special aids or equipment for employment
  • adaptations to the equipment you already use
  • help with travel to work if you can’t use public transport
  • a support worker to provide help in the workplace.

You may be eligible for an Access to Work grant if you are employed (including as an apprentice), self-employed or unemployed and you have a job to start, and you are disabled.

To apply, you will need to give general details such as your National Insurance number, your employer’s contact details, a brief description of the job, details of your disability or health condition, and how this will affect your work. Before you ring, think about the tasks involved in the job and the impact your disability may have on them.

Northern Ireland has its own version of Access to Work.

Loans and grants

Loans and grants

Budgeting loans

If you have been getting income-related ESA, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Pension Credit for at least 26 weeks, you may be able to get an interest-free Budgeting Loan. This can be used to help meet intermittent expenses for specified items, such as clothing, bedding or a washing machine. A Budgeting Loan has to be repaid within two years.

If you are in a Universal Credit full service area, you cannot claim a Budgeting Loan, but will need to claim a Budgeting Advance instead. Contact your work coach at your local Jobcentre Plus office to apply.

Pension Credit

Pension Credit is a means-tested or income-related benefit. It has two elements: the ‘guarantee credit’ and the ‘savings credit’. You may receive either one, or both, depending on your circumstances. Pension Credit is not taxable.

To claim Pension Credit, you must have reached the qualifying age, which is being raised from 60 to 66 between April 2010 and April 2020, alongside the rise in women’s State Pension age. To check the qualifying age at the time you want to claim, contact The Pension Service on 0800 991 234 or use the State Pension age calculator.

The guarantee credit is intended to provide for your basic living expenses. If you have no other income, it can be paid on its own.

Alternatively, it may be paid as a top-up to other benefits, such as the State Pension. In doing so, it will bring your income up to your ‘appropriate minimum guarantee’ (the basic amount the law says you need to live on). In brief, your needs (and those of your partner, if you have one) are compared with your resources, such as your income and savings, and the guarantee credit worked out from this comparison.

Any savings above £10,000 will be taken into account and assumed to provide you with a certain income; if you are a homeowner, the value of your property is disregarded. The guarantee credit can help towards mortgage interest payments and certain other housing costs. 

Savings credit may be paid if you or your partner are aged over 65, although generally it is not paid if you reached state pension age on or after April 6 2016. It is intended to provide a small amount of extra money for people who have made extra provision for their retirement.

Tax Credits

Child Tax Credit is a means-tested benefit that supports people who are responsible for children. You can be in or out of work. You child must be under 16, or under 20 and in full-time education or approved unwaged training. Child Tax Credit is made up of several elements to suit the different circumstances of families.

Working Tax Credit is a means-tested payment for those in low-paid work. It supports families with children and disabled workers, and also certain workers without children or a disability. It is made up of various elements, including an element to cover up to 70% of childcare costs (up to a maximum of £175 a week for one child and £300 for two or more children).

HM Revenue and Customs is responsible for administering tax credits. Claims for both Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit are made on the same claim form: the TC600. Note that if you are in a Universal Credit full service area, you will not be able to claim tax credits – you will need to claim Universal Credit instead.

Attendance Allowance

What is Attendance Allowance?

Attendance Allowance is a benefit paid to people aged 65 or over who have an illness or a disability, and need help with their personal care to live as normal a life as possible. Personal care may include such things as washing, dressing and going to the toilet, or supervision to keep you safe.

Who can claim Attendance Allowance?

Attendance Allowance is a tax-free, non-means-tested benefit. You can claim whether or not you are working, and it is not affected by savings or earnings. You do not have to have made National Insurance contributions to claim.

What matters with Attendance Allowance is how much your arthritis (and any other condition you may have) affects you; it is based on the help you need — not the help you actually get. It does not matter if you receive a lot of help or support, or very little. It is up to you how you spend the allowance. However, your local authority may take your allowance into account when assessing whether, or how much, you need to pay towards any care services they provide.

To qualify for Attendance Allowance, you need to satisfy certain day-time and/or night-time disability conditions:

  • Day time: you need help with personal care frequently throughout the day (during the middle of the day, as well as in the morning and evening) or you need continual supervision to avoid substantial danger to yourself or others (if you are prone to falling, for example).
  • Night time: you need prolonged or repeated help with personal care; or you need someone to be awake at night for a prolonged period or at frequent intervals to watch over you to avoid substantial danger. Normally, you only get Attendance Allowance if you have needed help for at least six months.

Can I qualify for Attendance Allowance?

You can qualify for Attendance Allowance if all the following apply:

  • you are aged 65 or over
  • you pass at least one of the disability tests outlined above, and have done so for the last six months
  • you pass the residence and presence tests (i.e. you are not subject to immigration control, and you normally live in the UK and have been living here for at least 104 out of the last 156 weeks – although the last ‘past presence’ test does not apply to refugees and their family)
  • you submit a completed claim form.

How much can I claim?

Attendance Allowance has just one component to cover your care or supervision needs - unlike Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disabiluty Living Allowance (DLA) - which also have mobility components). It is paid at two different rates, depending on whether you need help in the day time, or through the night, or for both day and night:

  • The lower rate (£55.10 per week) is payable if you satisfy either the day-time or the night-time disability test.
  • The higher rate (£82.30 per week) is payable if you satisfy both the day-time and the night-time disability tests (see above).

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

If you are under the age of 65, you can claim a similar benefit, PIP, instead of Attendance Allowance. PIP has replaced an earlier benefit, DLA, which may continue for people already claiming it. If you are receiving either of these benefits when you reach the age of 65, you can go on claiming them, instead of claiming Attendance Allowance. You cannot receive either PIP or DLA at the same time as Attendance Allowance.

How do I claim?

To claim Attendance Allowance you will need to complete and submit claim form AA1. You may also be asked to attend a medical assessment. You can ask the Attendance Allowance Unit to send you a form by post, or you can download a form to print and complete. You also have the option to fill in the form on screen, save it and then print the completed form. However you fill it in, you will need to submit your completed form by post to the Attendance Allowance Unit. Emailed forms will not be accepted.

Advice on completing claim form AA1

It is a good idea to get advice on how to fill in your claim form. You can call the Attendance Allowance helpline (tel: 0345 605 6055). Or, if you cannot fill in the form yourself, contact a local advice centre, such as Citizens Advice, a local Age UK group, DIAL, or your local authority welfare rights service (call your local council for details).

Completing the claim form

If you are completing the form on paper, you may find it helpful to fill it out in pencil first before finalising your answers in pen, or to write your responses on a separate piece of paper first to avoid mistakes. Answer every question as clearly as you can.

It is a good idea to keep a copy of your completed answers, so you can refer back to them if necessary. It will make it easier when you need to renew the claim or if you need help to challenge a decision.

Most of the claim form consists of a series of questions that relate to your care and supervision needs. Each question looks at a different area of your day-to-day life. They usually follow a similar pattern. You are first asked to tick ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to confirm whether or not you have difficulties or need help with that area of day-to-day life. Read the whole page before answering this. You are then asked more specific questions on each subject, including how often you need help.

At the end of each question, there is space to provide details of your difficulties. You may live alone and manage because you have no choice, but it is important to describe what help you would ask for if someone was there to help. You might be managing by yourself at the moment, but some of the tasks may be difficult without help from someone else. For example, they could be painful, time-consuming or risky.

Your condition may be variable. Many people claiming Attendance Allowance focus on good days. But you need to explain what help you need on a regular basis. Try to focus on an average day and list the problems you face more often than not. Explain what you are like on your worst days and how often such days occur.

After submitting your claim

Your application may take several weeks to process, but if you are awarded Attendance Allowance, it will normally be backdated to the date on your claim form. Sometimes the person making the decision on whether to award you the benefit may need further information.

If this is the case, they may contact one of the health professionals treating you. If they need still more information, they can arrange for a doctor to visit you to carry out a medical examination. If this happens, then, when the doctor comes, it is a good idea to have a family member or friend with you who knows your condition well.

What to do if your claim is unsuccessful

If your claim is unsuccessful, you have the right to challenge the decision and there are a number of options available to you – from requesting a reconsideration to submitting a formal appeal.

Other benefits

Receiving Attendance Allowance does not affect your eligibility for other benefits. It may entitle you to extra money, such as the disability premiums on means-tested benefits in recognition of the extra costs of disability. However, if someone is paid Carer’s Allowance to look after you, it may affect your eligibility for the severe disability premium. In this instance, contact an advice centre to seek advice on your situation.

Further help

For further advice and support, contact a local advice centre, such as Citizens Advice, a local Age UK group, DIAL, or your local authority welfare rights service (call your local council for details).

You can also read our Attendance allowance factsheet (PDF 407 KB)

Sources of information

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

What is Disability Living Allowance?

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a benefit paid towards the additional costs of bringing up a disabled child who needs more looking after than a child of the same age who doesn’t have a disability, and also has difficulty getting about.

Who can claim DLA?

You can only make a new claim for DLA if you are claiming for a child under 16. Anyone who is of working age (between the ages of 16 and 64 inclusive) who has mobility problems or care needs should consider claiming Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Anyone who is aged 65 or over and has care needs should consider claiming Attendance Allowance.

Does my child qualify for DLA?

A child can qualify for DLA if they:

  • pass at least one of the disability tests
  • pass the disability test(s) for three months before the claim, and are likely to pass them for at least six months after the claim (unless the child is terminally ill)
  • are under 16 and, usually, over three months of age
  • pass the residence and presence tests (for example, normally lives in the UK and has been living here for at least 104 out of the last 156 weeks, although the last ‘past presence’ test does not apply to refugees and their family)
  • are not subject to immigration control.

How is DLA made up?

The rate the child may receive depends on the level of looking after that they need. DLA has two parts:

• A mobility component, for help with walking, which is paid at two different rates.

• A care component, for children needing extra care, supervision or watching over, which is paid at three different rates.

The disability tests

The mobility component

To qualify for the higher rate, the child must be over the age of three. The child’s physical condition as a whole must be such that:

  • they are unable to walk; or
  • they are virtually unable to walk; or
  • the exertion required to walk would constitute a danger to their life or would likely to lead to a serious deterioration in their health; or
  • they have no feet or legs from birth or amputation; or
  • they are entitled to the highest rate care component, have severe learning disabilities, and dangerous and disruptive behaviour.

To qualify for the lower rate, the child must be over five years old. It doesn’t matter if they are able to walk, but they must be so severely disabled physically or mentally that they need guidance or supervision from another person most of the time when following unfamiliar routes out of doors. This guidance or supervision must be substantially more than that required by a child without a disabling condition.

The care component

To qualify for the care component, the child must be so severely disabled, physically or mentally, that they need:

During the day:

  • frequent attention throughout the day in connection with their bodily functions (1); or
  • continual supervision throughout the day to avoid substantial danger to themselves or others (2); or

During the night:

  • prolonged or repeated attention in connection with their bodily functions (3); or
  • to avoid substantial danger to themselves or others, they need someone to be awake for a prolonged period or at frequent intervals to watch over them (4); or

Part-time day care:

  • the child needs attention for a significant portion of the day in connection with their bodily functions.

The care component has three rates. The child will receive the highest rate if the child satisfies:

  • either (or both) No.1 or No.2 day-time conditions; and
  • either (or both) No.3 or No.4 night-time conditions.

Their care or supervision needs are spread throughout both the day and the night. The child will receive the middle rate if the child satisfies:

  • either (or both) No.1 or No.2 day-time conditions; or
  • either (or both) No.3 or No.4 night-time conditions.

Their care or supervision needs are spread throughout just the day or just the night. The child will receive the lowest rate if they satisfy the part-time day care condition. The care or supervision needs must be substantially more than that required by a child without a disabling condition.

How much can my child get?

To find out the weekly amount your child is entitled to, read our Disability living allowance factsheet (PDF 427 KB).

How do I claim?

To claim DLA, you will need to complete and submit claim form DLA1A. You can that a form be sent to you by post, or you can download one to print and complete. You also have the option to fill in the form on screen, save it and then print the completed form. However you fill it in, you will need to submit your completed form by post to the Disability Service Centre. Emailed forms will not be accepted.

Completing the claim form

Most of the DLA claim form consists of a series of questions relating to the child’s mobility, care and supervision needs. The questions have a tick box format and you are asked to put a tick next to the statement which best describes how the child manages. Read the notes that come with the claim form before answering the questions.

To see some of the questions in the claim form in more detail read our Disability living allowance factsheet (PDF 427 KB).

Keeping a diary

If the child is claiming the care component of DLA, writing a short diary of their care and supervision needs can greatly improve their chance of success. It can also be important when trying to explain symptoms that fluctuate either during a single day or over a longer period.

The simplest type of diary is an account of the child’s care and supervision needs over a typical day. Start from the time the child gets up in the morning, through a 24-hour period. Record the time and help they need, why they need help and the length of time this takes. If their needs vary from day to day, you could keep the diary over a few days, to get a clearer picture of their care needs. Make several copies of the diary. On each page, write the child’s name and reference number.

Attach a copy of the diary to the claim form and give copies to anyone that you have mentioned on the form.

After submitting your claim

The claim can take a few weeks to process. Sometimes the person making the decision on whether to award the child DLA may need further information. If this is the case, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) may contact one of the health professionals the child sees regularly. If they need still more information, they can arrange for a doctor to visit the child to carry out a medical examination.

If the claim is unsuccessful, you can challenge the decision.  

What to do if your claim is unsuccessful

If your claim is unsuccessful, you have the right to challenge the decision and there are a number of options available to you – from requesting a reconsideration to submitting a formal appeal.

For more information, read our factsheet for if you're unhappy with your benefit decision (PDF 417 KB).

Other benefits

Bear in mind that receiving DLA does not affect the child’s eligibility for other benefits. It may actually entitle you to extra money, such as the disability premiums on means-tested benefits, in recognition of the extra costs of disability.

Further help

For further advice and support, contact a local advice centre, such as Citizens Advice, a local Age UK group, DIAL, or your local authority welfare rights service (call your local council for details).

You can also read our Disability living allowance factsheet (PDF 427 KB).

Sources of information

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

What is Employment and Support Allowance?

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a benefit for people who have a health condition or disability that limits their ability to work.

Who can claim ESA?

The following basic qualifying conditions apply to all ESA claims. You must:

  • have a limited capability for work. This is tested under the ‘Work Capability Assessment’
  • be aged between 16 and State Pension age
  • not be in work (some limited work is ‘permitted’)
  • be in Great Britain
  • not be receiving Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Statutory Sick Pay.

Different types of ESA

There are two types of ESA: ‘contributory ESA’ and ‘income-related ESA’. You may receive either one of these, or both together, depending on your circumstances. There are additional conditions that you must satisfy to receive either one.

Contributory ESA

To be entitled to contributory ESA, you will need to satisfy the basic qualifying conditions above, plus you must also have paid enough National Insurance contributions over a certain number of years.

Contributory ESA is a taxable, flat-rate benefit. Savings and most other income do not affect contributory ESA. However, occupational or personal pensions can affect the amount you are paid. How long it can be paid depends on which of two groups you are put in: the ‘support group’ or the ‘work-related activity group’.

Payment is limited to a maximum of 12 months if you are placed in the work-related activity group. However, it can be paid indefinitely if you are placed in the support group.

Income-related ESA

To be entitled to income-related ESA, as well as satisfying the basic qualifying conditions above, you must also satisfy a means test. In this, your needs (and those of your partner, if you have one) are compared with your resources (such as your income or savings), and the difference is paid as income-related ESA. If you have savings over £16,000, you will not be entitled to income-related ESA.

Income-related ESA can be paid on its own (if you are not entitled to contributory ESA) or as a top-up to contributory ESA (if you are). Income-related ESA can help towards mortgage interest payments and certain other housing costs.

Note

Income-related ESA is being replaced by a new benefit, Universal Credit, over the next few years. If you live in a Universal Credit ‘full service’ area, you will not be able to claim income-related ESA, but will need to claim Universal Credit instead.

You can check whether this applies to you by using the postcode checker.

The two groups who can claim ESA

1. The work-related activity group

In this group, you must meet work-related conditions, including attending work-focused interviews. If you fail to meet the conditions, your ESA payment may be reduced. You receive a lower rate of ESA than if you are placed in the support group.

Work-focused interviews

If you are placed in the work-related activity group, you will be asked to attend a series of work-focused interviews. At each interview, you meet a ‘work coach’ who will discuss your work prospects, based on:

  • your education
  • your skills
  • your experience
  • any caring responsibilities you have.

They should help to identify the steps you can take to prepare for work, including training opportunities, work experience, help with job seeking or support in managing your health condition.

 2. The support group

You do not have to undertake any work-related activities in this group (although you can volunteer to do so). You receive a higher rate of ESA than if you are placed in the work-related activity group. Furthermore, if you are placed in the support group, any contributory ESA you receive will not be subject to the 12-month time limit.

Work you can do while claiming ESA

It is possible to do some work while claiming ESA without it affecting your benefit – this is called ‘permitted work’. Permitted work must be for less than 16 hours per week and you must not earn more than £120.00 per week.

Changes to ESA

From April 3 2017, the rate of ESA for people placed in the work-related activity group changed. If you make a claim on or after this date, you will receive a lower weekly rate, in line with the rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance.

For example, if you are a single person aged 25 or over who is placed in the work-related activity group, you will receive a weekly rate of £73.10.

From April 3 2017, if claimants are in the work-related activity group, they are able to do permitted work for any length of time. Before April 3 2017, claimants were not allowed to work for longer than 52 weeks.

This means that from April 3 2017, claimants can:

  • work for less than 16 hours a week
  • earn up to £120.00 per week
  • do permitted work for any length of time.

How to apply for ESA

To apply for ESA, you need to phone the Jobcentre Plus claim line. Or, if you are claiming contributory ESA in a Universal Credit full service area, contact the Universal Centre service centre.

Make sure you have the following ready when you start:

  • your (and your partner’s) National Insurance number
  • a medical certificate from your GP (the ‘fit note’)
  • your GP’s address and phone number
  • your contact details
  • details of your mortgage or landlord
  • a council tax bill
  • if you have, or recently have had, an employer, their address and telephone number and the dates of your employment (or the last day you worked)
  • your bank or building society account details
  • details of any earnings, income, savings or capital you may have
  • details of any other benefits or sick pay you are receiving.

Alternatively, you can download the ESA1 claim form.

How much can I claim?

The amount of ESA changes each year. It depends on whether you get contributory ESA or income-related ESA, whether you are in the assessment phase or the main phase, and which group you have been put in the ‘work-related activity group’ or the ‘support group’.

After submitting your ESA claim

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will send you a letter, confirming whether or not you meet the basic qualifying conditions. If they tell you that you do not satisfy these and you disagree with them, you can challenge the decision. Alternatively, you could claim Jobseeker’s Allowance.

If you do satisfy the basic qualifying conditions, you can begin the ‘assessment phase’. The assessment phase is a 13-week period that applies to most new claimants. During this phase, the DWP will collect more information about you to check if your award for ESA can continue and, if it can, at what rate. They do this through the Work Capability Assessment. The assessment phase can be extended beyond 13 weeks if there is a delay in completing this assessment (such delays are common).

During the assessment phase, ESA is paid at a lower rate – the ‘basic allowance’. If you are aged under 25 during the assessment phase, you are paid a lower rate of the basic allowance. After the assessment phase, if you continue to be entitled to ESA, you will be paid the same rate as someone aged 25 or over. If you are a new claimant of ESA, you will not receive any money for the first seven days of your claim – the ‘waiting days’. Your entitlement to the basic allowance will begin after these seven days.

After the assessment phase, you will be told whether or not you can continue to receive ESA and at what rate. If your award continues, you will be in the ‘main phase’ of your claim. You will be told which group you are in: the support group or the work-related activity group. If you are in the support group, you receive an additional amount of money – the support group component.

The Work Capability Assessment

The Work Capability Assessment is intended to do two things. First, it finds out whether you have a ‘limited capability for work’. If you have a limited capability for work, you can stay on ESA. Second, it finds out whether you have a ‘limited capability for work-related activity’. This is used to decide whether you are put in the ‘work-related activity group’ or the ‘support group’.

The limited capability for work assessment

You are not entitled to ESA unless you have (or can be treated as having) a ‘limited capability for work’. This is a points-related assessment of your physical and mental health, considered over a range of activities. Points are awarded on the basis of any limitations you have with respect to each activity and totalled up. If the total reaches 15 points or more, you are assessed as having a limited capability for work. You are asked about your limitations performing the activities in the Capability for Work questionnaire.

A list of the activities and the points is in Appendix 1 of our Employment and support allowance factsheet (PDF 466 KB).

The limited capability for work-related activity assessment

The ‘limited capability for work-related activity’ assessment determines which of two groups you can be placed in: the support group or the work-related activity group. This assessment has a list of ‘descriptors’. We list these in Appendix 2 of our Employment and support allowance factsheet (PDF 466 KB).

If you meet just one of these descriptors, you will be assessed as having a limited capability for work-related activity. The DWP decides if any of the descriptors apply by looking at what you have written in the Capability for Work questionnaire.

How is the Work Capability Assessment applied?

A DWP ‘decision maker’ looks at the information you have provided when you claim ESA to see, without having to make further enquiries, if there is evidence that you have a limited capability for work and for work-related activity. If the decision maker considers they do not have such evidence, they will send you a Capability for Work questionnaire to complete.

Completing the Capability for Work Questionnaire

You must return the Capability for Work questionnaire within four weeks, from the day after it was sent to you. To read in more detail how to fill in this questionnaire, please see our Employment and support allowance factsheet (PDF 466 KB)

What happens next?

Your completed questionnaire is assessed by a DWP-approved healthcare professional. The healthcare professional considers all the evidence on your claim and may request further information from your GP (or any other professional providing you with treatment) and/or ask that you attend a ‘face-to-face assessment’.

The face-to-face assessment

The face-to-face assessment will take place at an Examination Centre. It is carried out by a healthcare professional, who is usually a nurse or physiotherapist. You must be given at least seven days’ notice of the date, time and place for the assessment, unless you agree to accept a shorter notice period. This may be arranged over the phone. If you cannot attend, you should inform the office arranging the assessment as soon as possible. You can take a friend, relative or carer with you to the assessment.

During the assessment, the healthcare professional will identify the descriptors that they consider apply to you, with respect to both the limited capability for work assessment and the limited capability for work-related activity assessment. To do this, they will ask questions about your daily activities, including hobbies or leisure activities. They will observe how you manage during the assessment itself and may give you a clinical examination.

After you have seen them, the healthcare professional will produce a report and send this to a DWP decision maker. The decision maker will decide on the basis of this report whether or not you have a limited capability for work (and can remain entitled to ESA) and a limited capability for work-related activity (which determines which group you should be put in: the support group or work-related activity group).

If you disagree with their decision, you can ask for it to be reconsidered. If they do not change the decision when they reconsider it, you can then lodge an appeal.

Further help

For further advice and support, contact a local advice centre, such as Citizens Advice, a local Age UK group, DIAL, or your local authority welfare rights service (call your local council for details).

You can also read our Employment and support allowance factsheet (PDF 466 KB)

Sources of information

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

What is PIP?

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) helps cover the extra costs you may face if you need help taking part in everyday life or find it difficult to get around. It is an important benefit for people with arthritis.

Who can claim PIP?

You can claim PIP if you are working. It is not means-tested, so it is not affected by any earnings or benefits you receive or savings you may have. Neither is it treated as income for other benefits that are means-tested (such as Housing Benefit and Tax Credits).

In fact, an award of PIP can lead to higher levels of these benefits being paid. PIP can also act as a passport to other benefits, such as Carer’s Allowance. You do not need to have a carer or someone helping you to qualify. PIP is not taxable and you don’t need to have paid National Insurance contributions to get it. PIP payments are made directly to you, and you can spend them on anything you like.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

PIP has replaced an earlier benefit, Disability Living Allowance (DLA), for people of working age (between the ages of 16 and 64 inclusive).

Most adults currently getting DLA will be re-assessed under PIP at some stage. Children under 16 can continue to claim DLA. Adults aged 65 or over may be entitled to Attendance Allowance.

Can I qualify for PIP?

You can qualify for PIP if:

  • you are aged 16-64 when you claim (you will not be able to claim PIP once you are 65 years old, but you will be able to stay on PIP if you claimed it before you reached the age of 65); and
  • you have been present in Great Britain for two out of the last three years (this does not apply to refugees and their families); and
  • you are not subject to immigration controls; and
  • you are habitually resident (normally live) in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, the Republic of Ireland or the Isle of Man.

You must also meet the required disability conditions, which look at your daily living needs and your mobility needs. These are considered under the ‘PIP assessment’. You must have met the disability conditions for a ‘qualifying period’ of at least three months before you can be paid (you will not have to wait three months for payment after making your claim if you have already met the disability conditions for three months or more). You must also be likely to continue to meet them for a period of nine months in the future. You do not have to meet these conditions if you are terminally ill.

How is PIP made up?

PIP comes in two parts: the ‘daily living component’ and the ‘mobility component’. You can be awarded either, or both, of these components. Each component is paid at two different rates: a standard rate and an enhanced rate.

The daily living component

The daily living component helps cover the extra costs you may face if you need help taking part in everyday life. The rate you are paid depends on whether your ability to carry out daily living activities is limited or severely limited. This is tested under the PIP assessment.

The mobility component

The mobility component helps cover the extra costs you may face if you have difficulty getting around. The rate you are paid depends on whether your ability to carry out mobility-related activities is limited or severely limited. This is tested under the PIP assessment. Further detail on what is classed as a 'mobility activity' is given below and also in Appendix 2 of our Personal independence payment factsheet (PDF 438 KB).

The PIP assessment

The PIP assessment aims to tests your ability to take part in everyday life. It is a points-related assessment, based on your ability to perform 10 different activities relating to your daily living needs and two activities relating to your mobility. The number of points you score will determine whether or not you are entitled to either component of PIP and, if you are, at which rate.

The 10 daily living activities

Your ability to carry out daily living activities is assessed by focusing on 10 types of such activity. These activities are:

  • Preparing food
  • Taking nutrition
  • Managing therapy or monitoring a health condition
  • Washing and bathing
  • Managing toilet needs or incontinence
  • Dressing and undressing
  • Communicating verbally
  • Reading and understanding signs, symbols and words
  • Engaging with other people face-to-face
  • Making budgeting decisions

For further details of these activities, the points you can score from them, and the way the points are added up, see Appendix 1 of our Personal independence payment factsheet (PDF 438 KB).

The two mobility activities

Your ability to carry out mobility activities is assessed by focusing on two types of such activity. These are:

  • Planning and following journeys
  • Moving around

For further details of these activities, the points you can score from them, and the way the points are added up, see Appendix 2 of our Personal independence payment factsheet (PDF 438 KB).

How much will I receive?

To find out the weekly amount your child is entitled to, please see our full PIP factsheet.

How do I claim?

You can start your PIP claim by calling the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Someone else can make this call on your behalf, but you need to be with them when they do so. During the call, basic details will be obtained from you, including:

  • your personal contact details and National Insurance number
  • which healthcare professional treating you would be the best to contact
  • information about your nationality and whether you have been abroad for more than four weeks at a time over the last three years
  • whether you are in hospital, a hospice or a care home, or have been in one of these over the last four weeks
  • details of your bank or building society, for payment purposes
  • whether you find it difficult to return forms (for instance, if you have memory problems).

If you can, have this information ready when you make the call.

The information you provide should allow the DWP to decide whether or not you meet the basic qualifying conditions for PIP (see above). Once the call is completed, you will be asked to agree a declaration.

Completing the claim form

The ‘How your disability affects you’ form gives you the chance to describe how your condition affects your daily life. For detailed information on how to do this read our Personal independence payment factsheet (PDF 438 KB).

What happens next?

If it is clear from the information that you have provided that you do not satisfy the basic qualifying conditions for PIP, the DWP will send you a letter stating that your claim has been disallowed. If you do satisfy the basic qualifying conditions, you will be sent a form to complete, called: ‘How your disability affects you’.

Once your ‘How your disability affects you’ form has been returned, your case will be passed to one of the two companies contracted to carry out the PIP assessments on behalf of the DWP: Capita and Atos Healthcare. Once your case has been passed on to them, they will allocate it to a healthcare professional working for them. This healthcare professional may initially contact your doctor, consultant, specialist nurse or occupational therapist for further information. If there is sufficient evidence in the form and accompanying documents, they may make a decision ‘on the papers’. However, in about 75% of cases, the healthcare professional will arrange to see you at a ‘face-to-face consultation’.

The face-to-face consultation

The consultation will normally take place in an Examination Centre. You must be given at least seven days’ notice of the time and place for the consultation, unless you agree to accept a shorter notice period. If you cannot attend, inform the office arranging the consultation as soon as possible. If you want the help or support of a carer, relative or friend, you can bring them to the consultation with you. They are not usually able to answer questions on your behalf, but can add to what you have to say.

What happens at the consultation?

At the consultation, the healthcare professional will identify the descriptors that they consider apply to you with respect to the PIP assessment (see the Appendices of our Personal independence payment factsheet PDF 438 KB). To do this, they will normally ask questions about your day-to-day life, your home, how you manage at work if you have a job, and about any social or leisure activities that you take part in (or have had to give up). They will often ask you to describe a typical day in your life.

When answering, explain your difficulties as fully as you can. Tell them about any pain or tiredness you feel, or would feel, while carrying out each task, and after you have carried it out. Also consider how you would feel if you had to do the same task repeatedly.

Don’t overestimate your ability to do things. If your arthritis varies, let them know about what you are like on bad days as well as good days, and how often you have good and bad days. The healthcare professional’s opinion should not be based on a snapshot of your condition on the day of the consultation; they should consider the effects of your condition over time.

The healthcare professional may carry out a brief physical examination. If they ask you to carry out anything that would cause you significant pain or discomfort, let them know and you can refuse to do it.

The decision

Following the face-to-face consultation, the healthcare professional will complete the report. Once they have done this, they will send it to a DWP case manager, who will decide whether or not to award you PIP and, if it is awarded, at what rate and for how long.

If your claim is turned down, or you are awarded a lower rate than you expected, you can challenge the decision.

What to do if your claim is unsuccessful

If your claim is unsuccessful, you have the right to challenge the decision and there are a number of options available to you – from requesting a reconsideration to submitting a formal appeal.

For more information, see our factsheet for if you're unhappy with your benefit decision (PDF 417 KB).

What if I go into hospital or a care home?

If you are in hospital, you can make a claim for PIP, but you cannot be paid it during your stay; payment can only start once you leave. If you are already getting PIP when you go into hospital, it will stop after a total of four weeks (either in one stay, or several stays, where the gaps between stays are no more than four weeks each time). It can restart when you return home. However, if you are under 18 when you go into hospital, your PIP can continue indefinitely whilst you remain in hospital. If you later return after the age of 18, it will be limited to four weeks.

Further help

For further advice and support, contact a local advice centre, such as Citizens Advice, a local Age UK group, DIAL, or your local authority welfare rights service (call your local council for details).

You can also read our Personal independence payment factsheet (PDF 438 KB).

Sources of information

Universal Credit

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a new means-tested benefit for people of working age, designed to support you if you’re working and on a low income or if you’re out of work.

Universal Credit is intended to be a more straightforward structure than the current system, where benefits have been determined to a large extent on whether a person is in or out of work. Universal Credit is one credit for people whatever their employment status. Because of this, it should ease the transition into and out of work, as people won’t need to transfer to a different benefit as their situation changes.

The aim of Universal Credit is to make people better off in work than on benefits.

Read our Universal credit factsheet (PDF 433KB).

How does Universal Credit work?

  • The amount of Universal Credit you receive is adjusted according to earnings; the more you earn, the less benefit is paid to you proportionally.
  • The hours you can work in a week is unlimited.
  • It is a means-tested benefit for those of working age.
  • Claims need to be made online.
  • Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears, so you would receive your first Universal Credit payment one month after your initial assessment.

Who can claim Universal Credit?

To claim Universal Credit, you must:

  • be 18 or over (16 or 17 in some limited circumstances)
  • be under State Pension age
  • be resident in Great Britain (habitually resident and have the right to reside in the UK, Isle of Man, etc.)
  • not be in full-time education (although if you are in receipt of DLA or PIP and have been assessed as having limited capability for work, you can qualify as a disabled student)
  • not having savings or capital of over £16,000
  • have accepted a claimant commitment

 If you have a partner, you will make a joint claim as a couple. If your partner meets one of the conditions above, seek advice. In some circumstances, you may still be able to claim as a couple, and in others you may be able to make a claim as a single person, although your partner’s income and savings will still be taken into account.

Work-related requirements

Everyone who is actually able to work, and who receives Universal Credit, will be placed in one of four conditionality groups, based on their circumstances and capability. These groups are:

  • No work-related requirements (mostly for those above the earnings threshold: i.e. on a 35-hour week on the minimum wage, people with a limited capability for work-related activity, those responsible for a child under the age of one, and carers)
  • Work-focused interview requirement only (for example, for people with responsibilities for a child under the age of one)
  • Work preparation requirement (if you only have a limited capacity for work or are responsible for a child under the age of two)
  • All work-related requirements (in this group you must be regularly available to seek and undertake work, usually full time).

I’m over State Pension age; can I claim Universal Credit?

Your State Pension age is worked out based on your gender and date of birth. If one member of a couple is over Pension Credit age, and the other one is under, you can claim Universal Credit. However, it is likely to be more advantageous for you to claim Pension Credit. At some point in the future, it will no longer be possible for couples to claim Pension Credit if one of them is under Pension Credit age, unless they already have a Pension Credit claim in payment when the law changes.

Find out your State Pension age here. 

As Universal Credit replaces Housing Benefit and Child Tax Credit, but is only for people of working age, there will be some changes to Pension Credit to include support for rent, and an additional amount for pensioners with dependent children.

When can I claim Universal Credit?

There are currently around 12.5 million claims in place for the benefits that will be replaced by Universal Credit. Because of the number of people affected, the government has decided to phase in its introduction.

When you can claim Universal Credit will depend on where you live and whether you are making a new claim, or you are being transferred from a benefit that is being replaced. While Universal Credit is now available in all Jobcentre Plus offices in Great Britain, in many areas it is only available to jobseekers in limited circumstances (gateway areas). The ‘full service’ of Universal Credit (where anyone may claim) is being rolled out gradually and it is intended to cover the whole of Great Britain by September 2018.

In Northern Ireland, Universal Credit will start being introduced in September 2017 and it is intended to be fully rolled out by September 2018.

When people start to be moved over to Universal Credit from benefits that are being replaced, this will be done in one of two ways:

  • Natural Migration - If you experience a significant change of circumstance that would have caused you to claim one of the benefits that Universal Credit replaces, you will claim Universal Credit instead.
  • Managed Migration - If your circumstances don’t change, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will begin to move people over to Universal Credit on a systematic basis. This is due to happen between 2019 and 2022.

How do I claim?

The only way to apply for Universal Credit is online. After the application is processed, a face-to-face interview will then be required.

It is important to have all relevant details to hand, so that you can complete the form in one go. Unless you are in a ‘full service’ area, it is not possible to save the document. Note that you will be timed out if your computer is inactive for over 20 minutes, and if this happens, you will be required to start again from the beginning. Once you are registered, you can then follow the progress and log any changes, using your personal online account.

Staff at your local Jobcentre Plus should be able to offer individual advice. If you don’t have internet access, this can be provided by your local Jobcentre Plus, local council, and sometimes the local library. However, be aware that demand for public computers is high and appointments are often needed. Also, access in libraries requires library membership, which itself requires residency evidence. Such restricted access often means that job application targets cannot be met, and this jeopardises future payments.

Interview

Once you have completed your online application, you will need to attend an interview. In this, you must sign a ‘Claimant Commitment’, setting out what you have to do to continue receiving Universal Credit. Joint claimants must both agree a claimant commitment to receive Universal Credit.

Sanctions will be imposed if there is a failure to meet any work-related requirement, such as attending an interview and submitting false or misleading claims.

Breaks in claim of under six months

If you come off Universal Credit, but you then re-qualify within six months, you can make a ‘rapid reclaim’ without having to complete a full claim. This means you will go back to your old assessment period and pay date. (If you are in a ‘gateway area’ and not yet ‘full service’, you may not even need to make a claim at all, if the reason you requalify for Universal Credit is because your wages have gone down.)

How Universal Credit is calculated

The amount awarded will depend on the income and circumstances of all the household members, but it does not matter whether you are working or how many hours per week you are working for.

There will be a basic allowance with different rates for single people and couples, and lower rates for younger people. There will then be additional amounts available for those with:

  • limited capability for work-related activity
  • caring responsibilities
  • housing costs
  • children
  • childcare costs.

If you don’t have any earnings, other income or capital, you will receive your Basic Allowance, plus any additions relevant to your circumstances.

Basic Allowance varies from around £250 for a single claimant under 25, to around £500 for joint claimants over the age of 25. For the housing costs element, your rent money will be paid to you directly and you will then be responsible for paying your landlord.

However, if there is a reason why you find it difficult to cope with budgeting for this you may be able to get it paid direct to your landlord.

If you are receiving help with mortgage interest, then this is paid direct to your lender. Amounts for children will include money to help with the extra costs involved in bringing up a disabled child. It is also possible to claim a percentage of registered childcare costs.

Starting work (or re-starting work)

If you are employed (as opposed to self-employed) you only need to inform the DWP that you have started work and who your employer is. They will collect information about your pay directly from HMRC using Real Time Information (RTI). When the DWP calculates your Universal Credit each month, it should know what earnings you have received.

Earnings are based on the net amount (after tax and National Insurance) and any contributions to a pension scheme. Earnings also include benefits paid by the employer, such as Statutory Sick Pay or Maternity Pay.

If you are self-employed, you are required to notify the DWP every month of your cash in/cash out figures.

What if my Universal Credit will be less than my current benefit income?

If you are part of the Managed Migration on to Universal Credit, you will not be worse off when you move over to it. If the amount of Universal Credit you are entitled to is less than you are currently getting from the benefits that are being replaced by it, you will receive a ‘transitional amount’ to top up your Universal Credit of the same amount.

If, due to a change in your circumstances, you are part of the Natural Migration on to Universal Credit, you will not receive a transitional amount and your Universal Credit may be lower than your current benefit income when you move over to it.

How will I be paid?

Universal Credit is a single payment made monthly in arrears. It will be paid into one single bank only or other account nominated by each household. If you do not have a bank account, you should consider opening one, or consulting a local advice service such as Citizens Advice, either online or at one of their centres. The DWP will have the ability to pay more frequently or to split payment in exceptional circumstances.

Challenging a decision

If you think a decision made about your Universal Credit entitlement is wrong, you can ask the DWP to look at it again – this is called ‘mandatory reconsideration’. You will receive a ‘mandatory reconsideration notice’ in response. The decision may be changed or you may receive an explanation of why it remains the same. If you still think the decision is wrong after receiving the mandatory reconsideration notice, you can make an appeal to the tribunal.

What to do if your claim is unsuccessful

If your claim is unsuccessful, you have the right to challenge the decision and there are a number of options available to you – from requesting a reconsideration to submitting a formal appeal.

For more information, see ‘If you are unhappy with your benefits decision’ below.

Appeal

You can make an appeal to the tribunal by contacting the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal and asking them to look at the decision again. Explain why you think it is wrong. You must have followed the mandatory reconsideration process before appealing and you will be asked for the mandatory reconsideration notice.

If you do want to challenge a decision, you can get help with this by contacting a benefits adviser.

Further help

For further advice and support, contact a local advice centre, such as Citizens Advice, a local Age UK group, DIAL, or your local authority welfare rights service (call your local council for details).

Sources of information

If you are unhappy with your benefits decision

Our factsheet for if you're unhappy with your benefit decision (PDF 417 KB) covers the process of challenging benefit decisions administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This includes benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Universal Credit, Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Attendance Allowance and Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Mandatory reconsiderations

You have the right to appeal to an independent tribunal, the ‘First-tier Tribunal’, against most benefit decisions. However, you cannot appeal against a decision on a DWP-administered benefit unless you have first requested the DWP to reconsider their decision. This is called a ‘mandatory reconsideration’. If you disagree with the reconsidered decision, you can then appeal and take your case to a tribunal.

The dispute period

There is a ‘dispute period’, during which you can ask for a decision to be reconsidered. This normally lasts for one calendar month from the date the decision is sent to you. If you have missed this one-month deadline, you may be able to ask for a late revision. This may be accepted up to 13 months after the normal deadline if:

  • the decision maker thinks it is reasonable; and
  • special circumstances make it impracticable for you to seek a revision within one month.

When you ask for the decision to be reconsidered, a DWP decision maker will look at your request and, if they agree with it, they will revise the decision.

Asking for a reconsideration

You can ask for a reconsideration over the phone. You should then confirm your request in writing, using the office address printed on the decision letter. Be sure to keep a copy of your request. When you ask for the decision to be reconsidered, you should explain why you think the decision is wrong.

If possible, provide evidence. In the case of benefits paid because of your disability, such as PIP or Attendance Allowance, you may need to see the evidence that was used in making the decision before you can properly put forward your case.

In this case, when you phone the DWP, you should do the following:

  • request a reconsideration of the decision. State your grounds simply at this stage, such as (for PIP), ‘I believe that you have underestimated the degree of my disability and consequently underestimated the extent of my mobility problems and/ or the difficulties I have in carrying out daily living activities’; and
  • ask them to send you copies of all the evidence that was used in making the decision; and
  • ask them not to take any further action until you have had the chance to respond to that evidence.

 When you receive the evidence, you should have a better idea of why the decision was made. This will help you frame your argument and build up evidence to support your case.

However, if you are challenging an ESA decision, it is best to ask them to carry out the reconsideration as quickly as possible, even if it means doing it without further evidence. This is because your options for claiming benefits are limited during the reconsideration process. You will still have the opportunity to submit it at the appeal stage.

Building a case for disability benefits

Sometimes the only evidence used will be the information you gave on the benefit claim form. In most cases, however, there will be a report produced by a healthcare professional who was asked to assess you on behalf of the DWP.

Once you have obtained a copy of this report, compare it with the account that you gave of your situation in the claim form. Try to find where any discrepancies arise. For example, you may have written on the claim form that you could not get on and off the toilet without support, but the healthcare professional noted in their report that they thought you could manage by yourself. Now try to get medical evidence showing that what you said on the form was correct – such as a letter from your doctor or consultant confirming the difficulties and risks you have getting on and off the toilet unassisted.

Once you have obtained evidence to support your case, send it to the address printed on the decision letter. If it is likely to take a while for you to obtain the evidence, inform the DWP how long it is likely to take, so that they do not make a decision straight away.

The mandatory reconsideration notice

Once a decision has been reconsidered, the decision maker will send you two copies of a ‘mandatory reconsideration notice’ to let you know the outcome. You will need the extra copy of the notice if you wish to appeal.

Appealing to a tribunal

Appeals for DWP-administered benefits are independent of the DWP. They are run by the HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS). Appeals are made direct to the HMCTS, except in Northern Ireland, where they are made to the Department for Social Development.

How do you appeal?

You must either ask for mandatory reconsideration or take other steps before you appeal to the Social Security Tribunal. Appeals for DWP-administered benefits can be made on the SSCS1 form. You must attach a copy of the mandatory reconsideration notice when you appeal.

One of the questions on the SSCS1 form asks if you want to attend a hearing of your appeal or if you want it to be decided on the papers alone. It is better to attend the hearing, particularly if you are appealing against a decision relating to a disability benefit.

Appeal time limits

Your appeal must normally reach the HMCTS within one calendar month of the date the mandatory reconsideration notice was sent to you.

If your appeal is late, you must explain why. The appeal tribunal will consider your reasons and can extend the time limit by up to 12 months. The longer the delay, the better the reasons must be.

The appeal response

The HMCTS will send a copy of your appeal to the DWP and ask them to provide a ‘response’ to explain how they came to their decision. The DWP must normally do this within 28 days. The DWP will send you a copy of the response.

The hearing

You must be given 14 days’ notice of the time and place of the appeal hearing. The appeal should be informal. The appeal tribunal will be made up of a judge and possibly one or two other people, depending on the type of appeal. In the case of disability benefits (such as DLA or PIP), one of these people will be a doctor. Occasionally there is also a representative from the DWP, to put forward their case.

The judge will normally start by introducing the tribunal and explaining its role. They usually go on to ask you questions about the issues related to your appeal. For disability-related appeals, they will often ask you to describe what you do on an average day. You should be given the opportunity to explain your case to the tribunal.

Once the tribunal is satisfied that everyone has had the chance to put forward their case, they will ask you to leave the tribunal room while they make the decision.

The decision

You should be given a decision notice on the day of the hearing, or soon after that. A copy will then be sent to the DWP. This is so they can put the tribunal decision into effect and pay you any benefit owed.

If the appeal is unsuccessful, you can ask for a more detailed explanation: the ‘statement of reasons’ for the decision. You have one month from the date of the tribunal decision in which to do this. Once you have read the statement of reasons, it should be clear to you how and why you have been unsuccessful.

If you disagree with the decision, you may be able to appeal further to an ‘Upper Tribunal’. You can only do this if the tribunal has made a legal error. For this reason, you should obtain advice before taking things further.

Sources of legal help

Medical assessment complaints

When you are applying for a benefit – for example, Employment Support Allowance (ESA) – you may have to go through a Work Capacity Assessment (WCA), so that the decision maker has more information available to help assess your entitlement. These assessments are routine, but sometimes people have felt they have cause for complaint.

If you are unhappy about the decisions made by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), you can ask them to look at their decision again. To do this, contact the office named at the head of your decision letter. Make sure you include your contact details, plus your National Insurance number and details of what went wrong, and what you want to happen to put it right.

The Health Assessment Advisory Service (Maximus) cannot change the decision of the DWP or request another assessment. However, if you have a complaint about how the face-to-face assessment was carried out, you should contact the Customer Relations Team.

What can I do if I am not happy with the response to my complaint?

If you are not happy with the response from the DWP, you can contact the Complaint Resolution Manger, who should contact you, usually by phone, to talk to you about your complaint. They will contact you again within 15 working days to tell you the outcome or when you can get a response.

If you remain dissatisfied with the response to your complaint and wish to use an ombudsman, contact Citizens Advice.