Income Support is a means-tested benefit payable to certain people on a low income. It is designed to bring your income up to a minimum level to cover your basic living expenses.
Income Support does not depend on National Insurance contributions and can be paid on its own or with a combination of other benefits. If you are single you claim as a single person. If you live with your partner you must claim for yourself and your partner. It can also help with mortgage interest costs but usually only after a waiting period.
Who can claim Income Support?
To qualify for Income Support you must: (a) satisfy a number of basic conditions, (b) fit into one of the categories of people who are classed as eligible to receive the benefit and (c) your income and savings must be below a certain amount which depends on your circumstances.
People who have a disability or are unable to work due to a health condition used to be able to claim Income Support, but this route to claiming has been replaced by Employment and Support Allowance. No new claims can be made for Income Support on the basis of sickness or disability. Some people who were getting Income Support on this basis before the introduction of Employment and Support Allowance are still being paid Income Support. The government plans to have transferred them off Income Support by March 2014. For more information about this please see our information sheet ‘Reassessment of Incapacity Benefits’.
(a) Income Support basic qualifying conditions
- You must be resident in Great Britain.
- You must be aged between 16 and state retirement age (Note: Pension Credit Guarantee is a similar benefit to Income Support and is available to both men and women once they reach state retirement age for women).
- You are not a full-time student, although there are some exceptions to this rule, most notably for lone parents.
- Your capital and savings (or your and your partners capital and savings, if part of a joint claim) cannot exceed £16,000.
- You are not in paid work for more than 16 hours per week and your partner, if you have one, is not in paid work of more than 24 hours per week. If you qualify for Income Support as a carer it is possible this condition can be waived.
(b) Income Support eligibility categories
In addition to the above conditions of entitlement to qualify for Income Support you must also fall into one of the categories of people eligible to claim. The most common categories are:
- Carers. To qualify as a carer you need to be caring for someone who gets Disability Living Allowance middle or high rate care, or the Daily Living component of Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance. You can also claim if the person you care for has claimed and is waiting for a decision on either of these benefits.
- Lone parents responsible for a child under the age of five.
- Pregnant women whose baby is expected within 11 weeks, or who had a baby within the last 15 weeks.
(c) Income Support – income criteria
If one or more of the above Income Support eligibility categories applies to you, then you may potentially be entitled to receive Income Support. In addition though, your income must be low enough.
There is no universal level of income over which you will not be entitled; it depends on your particular circumstances. Below are two common scenarios.
Stuart is 50. He is single, lives alone and claims Carers Allowance as a carer for his adult son. His savings and other capital are below £6,000 and he does not have any other income. Stuart gets Income Support of £45.25 per week (2013/14 rates).
Sarah is 35, she lives with her husband who is 32 and their two young children. She claims Carers Allowance as a carer for her ten year old daughter. Her husband works part time six hours per week earning £60 per week. Their joint savings and other capital are £10,000. Sarah gets Income Support of £20.10 per week (2013/14 rates).
How to claim
New claims for Income Support are made by telephone on 0800 055 6688 in England, Scotland and Wales or by contacting your local Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office if you live in Northern Ireland..
During the phone call they will ask for details of your finances and other details such as who you live with. You will then receive a copy of those answers in the post.
The next stage is to read through the statement, correct any errors and provide any
supporting information that is required such as wage slips or bank statements. If you return this
within a month of the date of the telephone claim then benefit can be awarded from the date of the
telephone call. You can also download a claim form from this website https://www.gov.uk/income-support/how-to-claim.
Income Support can be backdated for a maximum of three months, although to do this you
must provide reasons as to why you did not make a claim before the date you applied.
Income Support is going to be abolished and replaced by a new benefit called Universal Credit.
Universal Credit will start to replace Income Support from October 2013. The government say that they will have ended all Income Support claims and moved people onto Universal Credit by 2017.
For advice and information about Income Support or any other benefits please contact The National Autistic Society Welfare Rights Service (www.autism.org.uk/welfarerights).
• Tel: you can book a welfare rights telephone appointment by calling the NAS Helpline, on 0808 800 4104, lines are open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm.
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you require further information, please contact:
Tel: 0845 070 4004 (open 10am-4pm, Monday-Friday)
Minicom: 0845 070 4003
Our Autism Helpline provides impartial, confidential information, advice and support for people with autism spectrum disorders and their families and carers.
Tel: 0845 070 4004 (open 10am-4pm, Monday-Friday)
Fax: +44 (0)20 7833 9666
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