Knowing which benefits you may be entitled to - as well as how to apply for them – can be a complicated process. Below is a very brief guide to some of the benefits you may be able to claim. For more detailed information on any of the benefits below see the link to the advice guide at the bottom of the page.
DLA (Disability Living Allowance)
This is a benefit paid to people under the age of 65 who have a disability. The benefit is paid in two parts depending on your needs; care and mobility. The care component is paid at three rates; lower, middle and higher, and receipt is based upon how much care and support you require from others. The mobility component is paid at lower and higher rates and is based upon how easy you find walking outdoors.
Note that DLA is not affected by employment status.
ESA (Employment Support Allowance)
This replaced Incapacity Benefit in October 2008. It is paid to people who cannot work because of a disability or sickness and are not receiving statutory sick pay. There are two types of ESA; contributory which you can receive if you have paid enough national insurance contributions and income-related which you can receive if your income and capital are low.
During the first 13 weeks of an ESA claim, a work capability assessment takes places which aims to assess how affected someone is and whether they qualify for ESA or not. A successful claimant will be expected to undergo a series of work focused interviews aimed at supporting them back into suitable employment.
Working Tax Credits
Tax Credits are paid to people with a disability who are in work. To qualify you need to be working over 16 hours and earning under a set threshold (your partner’s income or those you live with may affect this). The tax credit department require applicants to provide information on an annual basis. To apply for Working Tax Credit, contact the tax credit helpline for an application pack. The helpline number is: 0845 300 3900.
Housing and Council Tax Benefit
These benefits are paid to people who have a low income and can help by reducing the amount of council tax or the amount of rent paid by someone. If you are claiming other benefits such as Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment Support Allowance, it is possible that the whole of your rent or council tax may be covered. These benefits are organised by your local district council.
It is no longer possible to start a new claim for this benefit as ESA was introduced in October 2008 and has replaced it. Those who were already claiming this prior to October 2008 can continue with their claims which are paid at different rates, depending on how long they hava been receiving it. Lower rate, short-term Incapacity Benefit is paid for the first 196 days you are off sick and is not taxable. Higher rate short-term Incapacity Benefit is paid for the next six months and long-term Incapacity Benefit is paid after a year. Both of these are taxable.
JSA (Job Seekers Allowance)
This benefit is for people who are out of work, are capable of work and are actively seeking work. There are two types of JSA contribution; that which is based on your National Insurance contributions during the tax year and that which is based on your Income. The latter is aimed at those who have a low income and have not paid enough NI contributions within the tax year.
As stated above, a part of the conditions for claiming JSA is that you are capable of work, available to work and actively seeking work. The Job Centre will regularly meet with claimants when they sign on to support their job seeking and to ensure they are looking for work.
It is possible to work whilst claiming ESA or Incapacity benefit; to do this you must work for less than 16 hours per week and earn under a set threshold (currently £92). You can carry out Permitted Work for a period of 52 weeks and must also notify the Department of Work and Pensions that you will be starting Permitted Work.
Once you have begun Permitted Work it is possible to earn up to the threshold and still claim your benefits.
Supported Permitted Work
This is the same as Permitted Work but requires you to be supported by an organisation such as those listed on this site. Once you have applied for this you can continue the Permitted Work for an indefinite period.
Buckinghamshire County Council operates a Welfare Benefits service that can provide advice and guidance regarding benefits to Bucks residents.
The Citizen’s Advice website contains more detailed information on these benefits and others:
Benefits Enquiry Line: 0800 88 22 00
This is a Department of Work and Pensions helpline aimed at providing advice and guidance on benefits for people with disabilities and their carers.