Social Security benefits are financial payments. Some benefits are paid to meet basic living costs, some are paid for specific expenses such as rent, other benefits are paid if you meet certain criteria such as being in full time work.

There are dozens of different benefits and many have complex rules. This is an introduction to help you start to find out which of those benefits might be relevant to you. It does not cover all the benefits or all the rules. This information is for people aged between 16 and state retirement age. You might also be interested in the following information available at www.autism.org.uk/benefits

Social security benefits for older people;Benefits for children with autism •    Benefits for young people with autism aged 16-20

Disability Benefits (Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment)

Disability Benefits can be paid if your disability means that you have care needs or mobility difficulties regardless of whether you are in work or in education and regardless of how much money you have or who you live with.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) has been the disability benefit for 'working age' people (which means people aged 16-65), but this is gradually being abolished and replaced by Personal independence payment (PIP). All new claims for a working age disability benefit must now be claims for PIP. If you are already getting DLA you will be moved off DLA between between now and 2018.

If you are getting DLA and want to find out how your claim will be ended please see our information about the abolition of adult DLA at www.autism.org.uk/AdultDLA

To make a claim for PIP ring 0800 917 2222, or find out more at www.autism.org.uk/pip.

Benefits for people who are not working (or only doing a small amount of work)

If you are not doing any paid work or are doing a small amount of work you may be able to claim an out of work benefit.

Jobseekers Allowance

Jobseekers Allowance is the benefit for people who are able to work and can prove that they are actively looking for work. There are two types of Jobseekers Allowance.

Contribution-Based Jobseekers Allowance is not means tested and is paid to people who have paid enough National Insurance contributions to qualify.

Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance is means tested and is paid to people whose income and savings are low enough to qualify. Only your income and savings, and those of a partner who you live with are counted. For example if you live with a friend or with your parents their income and savings are not counted.

To make a claim for Jobseekers Allowance ring 0800 0556688, or in Northern Ireland contact your local social security office.

Income Based Jobseekers Allowance is gradually being abolished and replaced by Universal Credit, please see information below. Contribution Based Jobseekers Allowance is not affected by this change.

Employment and Support Allowance

Employment and Support Allowance is the benefit for people who cannot work or who have a limited ability to work due to having a disability or health condition. There are two types of Employment and Support Allowance.

  • Contribution Based Employment and Support Allowance is not means tested and is paid to people who have paid enough National Insurance contributions to qualify, or who qualified under the old 'youth' rules which have since been abolished for new claims.
  • Income Based Employment and Support Allowance is means tested and is paid to people whose income and savings are low enough to qualify. Only your income and savings, and those of a partner who you live with are counted. For example if you live with a friend or with your parents their income and savings are not counted.

To make a claim for Employment and Support Allowance call 0800 0556688, or in Northern Ireland call 0800 0856 318. For more information about the criteria and how to claim, see our information at www.autism.org.uk/ESA

Income Based Employment and Support Allowance is gradually being abolished and replaced by Universal Credit, please see information below. Contribution Based Employment and Support Allowance is not affected by this change.

Income Support

Income Support is a benefit for people who are carers or lone parents of children under 5 and do not work or only do a small amount of work. For more information please see www.gov.uk/income-support

Income Support is gradually being abolished and replaced by Universal Credit, please see information below.

Carers Allowance

Carers Allowance is a benefit for people who earn less than £110 per week and care for someone who gets a disability benefit. For more information please see www.autism.org.uk/carersallowance

Benefits for people who are working

Working tax credit is a benefit for people who are working and have a low income. You must be working a certain number of hours per week to qualify. The number of hours needed to qualify depends on your circumstances.

To claim Tax Credits, call the Tax Credits Helpline on 0345 300 3900.

People who are working can claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support if their income and savings are low enough. Please see below for more details.

Working Tax Credit and Housing Benefit are gradually being abolished and replaced by Universal Credit, please see information below.

 

Benefits for people on a low income

The following benefits can be claimed by anyone on a low income regardless of whether they are in or out of work.

Housing Benefit

If you pay rent and have a low income and savings of under £16,000 you may be entitled to claim Housing Benefit. Some people on a very low income get all their rent paid. Some people who are working or have some savings get some money towards the cost of their rent.

Council Tax and Rates

There are various different schemes that can reduce the amount of Council Tax that you have to pay. Council Tax Support is a means-tested reduction of your bill. Council Tax discounts are reductions that are not means-tested and depend on who is living in the property. The Disability Reduction scheme can reduce the bill where the home has been adapted for a disabled person.

In Northern Ireland you can get means-tested help to pay your rates, and it is also possible to qualify for a non means-tested disability reduction on adapted properties.

Housing Benefit and Council Tax are administered by your local authority and by the Housing Executive and Land & Property Services in Northern Ireland.

Housing Benefit will gradually be abolished between 2013 and 2022 and replaced by Universal Credit.

Changes to the benefits system – Universal Credit

The following benefits are currently being abolished: Income Related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Related Jobseekers Allowance, Tax Credits, Housing Benefit and Income Support and are being replaced by a new benefit called Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is being introduced slowly and the government expect this process to be complete by 2022.For more information see Universal Credit.

Case studies

Depending on your situation you may be entitled to several different benefits. Here are a few common scenarios.

Ben

Ben has an ASD diagnosis. He is 30 and he lives on his own in a rented flat in an area where full Universal Credit has not yet been introduced. He gets support from his family who live nearby. He doesn't do any paid work but volunteers for a local charity. Ben gets:

  • Employment and Support Allowance because he is not able to work due to his disability
  • Disability Living Allowance because he needs support from other people to look after himself (this will be replaced by Personal Independence Payment).
  • Housing Benefit which pays all of the rent on his flat
  • Council Tax Support which pays most of his Council Tax Bill.

Samina

Samina is 50. She lives alone in a rented property in an area where full Universal Credit has not yet been introduced and works 16 hours per week. She has a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome. Samina gets:

  • Personal Independence Payment because she needs some support from other people to look after herself
  • Working Tax Credit because she is working and is on a relatively low wage
  • Housing Benefit pays some of the rent on her flat
  • Council Tax Support pays some of her Council Tax liability.

Joe

Joe is 21. He has an ASD diagnosis and lives with his parents in an area where full Universal Credit has not yet been introduced. He is at college full time. Joe gets:

  • Disability Living Allowance because he needs support from other people to look after himself (this will be replaced by Personal Independence Payment).
  • Employment and Support Allowance because he is not able to work.

Sarah

Sarah is 35, she has an ASD diagnosis and moderate learning disability and lives alone in a housing association property in an area where full Universal Credit has been introduced. Sarah needs a substantial level of help to live independently and has support with daily living from social services. Sarah is not able to do paid work. Sarah gets:

  • Personal Independence Payment because she needs some support from other people to look after herself
  • Universal Credit - as a person who is not able to work, her Universal Credit includes an element to pay her rent and an element for basic day to day living costs
  • Council Tax Support pays some of her Council Tax liability.

Further information

Our welfare rights adviserprovides advice and information about benefits.

Last updated: 1st September 2016