10-minute benefits check

10-minute benefits check

Use our Benefits Calculator to find out what you can get

It's a common misconception that benefits are only available if you're out of work – but even some families with an income of £50,000 or more can qualify for help. With the cost of living rising, it's more important than ever to know what you're entitled to. Make sure you're not missing out: our 10-minute calculator will show you what you might qualify for and how much you could get.

Over 8 million households on benefits will get a one-off cash boost as part of the Government's new cost of living support package. See who's eligible and how much you'll get

The Benefits Calculator will work out what you're due in low income support. It will also flag up some (but not all) relevant non-means-tested benefits that depend on circumstances such as your health. See the list below for a full rundown of what's available.

Please note that what you're entitled to depends on your exact circumstances. Make sure the info you put in is correct, and do any further research by calling the relevant Government office.

MSE weekly email

FREE weekly MoneySaving email

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes simply sign up today – it's spam-free!

Who qualifies for benefits?

The main thing to remember is benefits are NOT just for the unemployed. Even someone earning a high salary could be eligible for some help – so check out our Universal Credit and Benefits Calculator to see what you're entitled to.

Up to seven-and-a-half million households are missing out on £15 billion a year of means-tested benefits, the latest Government figures show. That's without adding on non means-tested benefits such as those for disabilities – so it's well worth a 10-minute check.

Warning. Scammers are targeting people on benefits by offering to 'help' them apply for interest-free Government loans. But once the scammer has your personal details, they're used to apply for universal credit, and big advanced payments. You could see your existing benefits stopped and be made responsible for repaying hefty amounts.

NEVER give out your personal details when contacted out of the blue – always double-check they're legit by contacting the Department for Work and Pensions or HM Revenue & Customs directly. For more on avoiding scams, see our Stop scams guide.

Benefits checklist

There's a long list of benefits so we've split it into four sections. You can jump straight to familiesworklow income and health/elderly.

If you're making a new claim or your circumstances have changed, and you're due means-tested benefits, chances are you'll have to apply for universal credit. For more details, see our universal credit guide.

If you're already on certain means-tested benefits, you'll eventually be moved onto universal credit as part of a government process called "managed migration". However, you can choose to move over to universal credit, if you want to, and many will find they are better off - though there's no guarantee. Our Should I switch to universal credit? guide includes a calculator to help you check, and goes through the pros & cons of switching.

If nothing's changed in your circumstances and you're carrying on with an existing claim for means-tested benefits, we've listed them under their old names as these continue... for now. (We've pointed out the six that'll eventually be swallowed up into universal credit below.)

Support for those with a family

A raft of benefits are available if you have children. One of the main ones is child benefit, for those with dependent children (under 16) and earn under £60,000. Another key benefit is statutory maternity/paternity/adoption pay – this is available for those who are expecting a baby, are employed, have worked continuously at the same firm for six months or more and earn an average of £123 a week.

Some of the benefits in the low income section are also available for families, so check that list too.

Also see the Family MoneySaving guide for other MoneySaving tips.

  • Child benefit

    Child benefit is for parents with dependent children. It's paid until the 31 August following your child's 16th birthday, or until the age of 20 if they're in full-time education or approved training.

    You may have to pay tax on child benefit if you or your partner individually earn more than £50,000. If you earn more than £60,000 you lose all your benefit through tax. 

    2022/23 weekly amount: Your eldest child will get £21.80 and other children £14.45.

    How to apply: You will usually get an application form in the Bounty pack from your midwife or you can download one from HMRC.

  • Child tax credits

    Child tax credits are part of the legacy system designed as state support for those with children. They are also available for those in work with a low income – see the Work section for more details.

    These credits are no longer available to most new claimants as it has been replaced by universal credit. Only those who are receiving the severe disability premium, or have received it in the past month and are still eligible, can still get it.

    For full information, see our Tax credits guide.

    2022/23 weekly amount: The child tax credit is made up of several elements. How much you get depends on a number of factors, including when your children were born. It's best to use the Government's tax credit calculator, or our full Universal Credit and Benefits Calculator, to see how much you can get.

    How to apply: Apply online or call 0345 300 3900 (Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 8am-4pm, Sun 9am-5pm).

  • Guardian's allowance

    Guardian's allowance is for those bringing up a child because one or both of their parents have died. You must be receiving child benefit for the child.

    2022/23 weekly amount: £18.55 per child.

    How to apply: Download a form from HMRC.

  • Statutory maternity/paternity/adoption pay

    If you've worked for the same firm for six months or longer and then take time off work when your baby is born, your employer will help.

    The statutory level is the minimum that should be provided, but your individual contract may provide more.

    Statutory maternity pay is for those who are pregnant and employed (adoption pay has similar rules for those adopting). These payments are made for up to 39 weeks while you are on leave from work. You must have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks by your qualifying week (the 15th week before the week in which your baby is due) and earn on average at least £123 a week.

    Paternity pay is paid by an employer once the child has been born for up to two weeks and usually goes to the child's father. It has the same 'qualifying rules' as maternity pay although you don't get the same initial six-week entitlement. 

    You may be eligible for shared parental leave and shared parental pay if your baby is due or your child is adopted on or after 5 April 2015. Pay is the same as maternity pay, although you don't get the same initial six-week entitlement and eligibility rules are different.

    2022/23 weekly amount: 90% of your average weekly earnings for the first six weeks (maternity pay and adoption pay only). Then £156.66 or 90% of average earnings, whichever is lower, for the next 33 weeks.

    How to apply: Payments are made via your employer, so speak to your manager or human resources department. For more info on each, see the Gov.uk pages for statutory maternity paystatutory adoption paystatutory paternity pay and shared parental pay.

  • Marriage allowance

    Marriage allowance lets married couples or civil partners transfer up to £1,260 of their personal allowance between them in the 2022/23 tax year.

    One partner needs to not be using their full personal allowance, while the other must be a basic-rate taxpayer, and you must both have been born on or after 6 April 1935. 

    Use the marriage allowance calculator to see how much you could save a year. You should definitely check before applying if the person giving away some of their allowance is earning close to the income threshold.

    2022/23 amount: Up to £252 tax savings.

    How to apply: You first need to register with HMRC. See our Marriage tax allowance guide for more information.

  • Maternity grant

    A one-off payment if you've had a baby, or adopted, to help towards the cost of having a baby.

    You'll qualify if you're expecting your first child, or are having a multiple birth if you have kids already. You or your partner must also claim certain benefits.

    You must claim within three months of your baby's due date or within six months after the baby's birth.

    2022/23 amount: £500 (£1,000 for triplets).

    How to apply: You should get the claim form from your midwife, or you can download it from Gov.uk.

    For more info, see our Maternity grant guide.

  • Maternity allowance

    If you're on maternity leave but are not entitled to statutory maternity pay – eg you were self-employed – then you get maternity allowance for 39 weeks. You can claim it when you've been pregnant for 26 weeks, but your payments won't start until 11 weeks before your baby's due.

    2022/23 weekly amountThere are some exceptions, but it's usually 90% of your average weekly earnings or £156.66, whichever is less, for the full 39 weeks.

    How to apply: Get a form from your midwife or download it from Gov.uk.

  • Widowed parent's allowance

    If your spouse or civil partner died before 6 April 2017, you may be entitled to a special allowance if you're bringing up a child or children, or expecting a baby with your late spouse or civil partner.

    To qualify, you must:

    • Be under state pension age.
    • Be entitled to child benefit for at least one child, and your late spouse or civil partner was their parent.
    • Your spouse or civil partner paid national insurance contributions, or they died as a result of a work-related accident or disease.

    If your partner died on or after 6 April 2017, you may be eligible for bereavement support payment instead. 

    You're not eligible if you:

    • Were divorced from your spouse or civil partner when they died.
    • Have remarried or you are living with another partner as if married or in a civil partnership.
    • Were over state pension age when your partner died – you may be able to get extra state pension.
    • Are in prison.

    2022/23 weekly amount: A maximum of £126.35

    How to apply: Download a claim form from Gov.uk and apply via your local Jobcentre Plus.

  • Scottish child payment

    If you’re a Scottish resident on a low income, and look after a child under six, you may be able to apply for the Scottish Child Payment.

    To qualify, you must be claiming one of the following benefits:

    • Income Support
    • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
    • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
    • Pension Credit
    • Child Tax Credit
    • Working Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element
    • Universal Credit

    If your claim is successful, you'll get the payment every 4 weeks until your child turns six. In November 2022, the Scottish Government hopes to extend the scheme to all eligible children under 16.

    2022 amount: £20 a week (increasing to £25 a week from November)

    How to apply: You can apply online using this form.

     

Support for those in work or if you're looking for work

If you're in work (on a low income or paying for childcare) or looking for work, you might be entitled to some extra help.

The main benefit available is universal credit - though some people will be able to claim jobseeker's allowance. 

If you're applying for one of these benefits and need help before the first payment is made, ask your Jobcentre Plus about getting a short-term advance. This is where money you'll be due is paid early (but obviously you don't then get it again later).

  • Jobseeker's allowance (JSA)

    This is the benefit given to those who are looking for work. You must not be working, or work less than 16 hours a week on average when you claim.

    There are three types of JSA:

    • 'New-style JSA'
    • Contribution-based JSA
    • Income-based JSA – if you're looking for work and are on a low income, look at income-based JSA in the low income section below.

    Eligibility:

    New-style JSA

    This is the main type of JSA generally available to new claimants. If you were recently working as an employee (in other words, not self-employed) and lost your job, you will likely be eligible for 'new-style' JSA. 

    • Eligibility is based on whether you've paid enough class 1 national insurance contributions in the last two to three years as an employee. Self-employment contributions don't count.

    • It is NOT means-tested. This means it makes no allowances for extra costs such as children or rent and your savings and partner's savings or income don't count either. This can make it a better option than universal credit for some people, for instance, if you have too much in savings to be eligible for universal credit.

    • Savings/capital DO NOT affect your entitlement. But any pensions paid to you over £50 a week (unless paid to you as a survivor) will reduce your JSA. 
    • As part of the conditions of claiming JSA you will be required to perform certain 'preparing for work' tasks, such as attending training days, applying for jobs, and going to interviews. If you don't complete your agreed tasks, your JSA payment may be reduced for a set period of time - this is called a 'sanction'. 

    Contribution-based JSA

    To be eligible for contribution-based JSA, you need to either get the severe disability premium or have received the severe disability premium in the last month and still be eligible for it.

    There is also other criteria that you will need to fulfil to get contribution-based JSA.

    2022/23 weekly amount: Up to £61.05 if aged 24 or under, up to £77.00 if aged 25 or over. 

    How to apply: Phone 0800 055 6688 or claim online via Gov.uk.

    You MUST report a change in circumstances 

    • Your claim could be stopped or reduced if you do not report a change straightaway. 
    • Changes include starting a new job, training or an apprenticeship, changes to your income, moving house, changing your name, and going abroad. 
    • You may be prosecuted or have to pay a £50 fine if you give the wrong or incomplete information or do not report changes straightaway.
    • How to report: Call the JSA helpline on 0800 169 0310, textphone on 0800 169 0314, or Welsh language on 0800 328 1744.
  • Working tax credit

    Working tax credits – available under the legacy benefit system to workers with a low income – now comes under universal credit if you're a new applicant.

    As with child tax credits, what you get is made up of different elements, but there is a basic element of up to £2,070 a year. It's always best to use the Government's tax credits calculator or our full Universal Credit and Benefits Calculator to see how much you can get.

    IMPORTANT: To qualify for working tax credit, normally you must work a certain number of hours: at least 30 hours if you're aged 25-59, or 16 hours if you're 60+, disabled or single with one or more children. 

 Support for those on a low income

These are benefits if you are on a low income (your household income determines if you're eligible) to help pay for day-to-day costs if you do not have money from elsewhere. Most are not paid if you have savings above £16,000.

The main ones are: universal credit, income support (for those who are not expected to look for work and receive the severe disability premium), and pension credit, which is available for those who have reached state pension age and who earn less than £182.60 if they're single or £278.70 if they're part of a couple. 

If you're applying for one of these benefits and need help before the first payment is made, ask your Jobcentre Plus about getting a short-term advance. This is where money you'll be due is paid early (but obviously you won't get it later).

Also see our Low income grants guide for other free cash you may be eligible for.

  • Income support

    This is paid to people who are not expected to look for work, for example, carers or lone parents with children under the age of five. It is one of six benefits from the legacy system that is now part of universal credit.

    However, you can still make a new claim if you receive the severe disability premium, or you received it in the last month and you're still eligible for it.

    2022/23 weekly amount: £61.05 for single people aged 24 or under, £77.00 for single people aged 25 or over. There are extra amounts if you are disabled, a carer or a pensioner.

    How to apply: Phone 0800 055 6688 or go to Gov.uk.

  • Income-based jobseeker's allowance

    Jobseeker's allowance is given to those who are looking for work. There are three types (income based, contribution based and new style) but they all give the same amount.

    The income-based one now comes under universal credit for new applicants. However, you can make a new claim if you receive the severe disability premium, or if you received it in the last month and you're still eligible for it.

    You need to be not working or working on average less than 16 hours when you apply. It's paid for as long as you show you are trying to find a job. Any savings between £6,000 and £16,000 will reduce the amount you could claim. It doesn't take into account any work you've done in the last two to three years. 

    (The contribution-based jobseeker's allowance in the work section above is for those who have made class 1 national insurance contributions.)

    2022/23 weekly amount: Up to £61.05 for single people aged 24 or under, up to £77.00 for single people aged 25 or over. There are extra amounts if you are disabled, a carer or a pensioner.

    How to apply: Phone 0800 055 6688 or claim online via Gov.uk.

    You MUST report a change in circumstances 

    • Your claim could be stopped or reduced if you do not report a change straightaway. 
    • Changes include starting a new job, training or an apprenticeship, changes to your income, moving house, changing your name, and going abroad. 
    • You may be prosecuted or have to pay a £50 fine if you give the wrong or incomplete information or do not report changes straightaway.
    • How to report: Call the JSA helpline on 0800 169 0310, textphone on 0800 169 0314, or Welsh language on 0800 328 1744.
  • Income-based employment and support allowance

    This is paid if you are sick/disabled, your household is on a low income and you are unable to work, or you have limited capacity to work.

    A separate allowance under the legacy system, this benefit is now part of universal credit for most new claimants. You now can only make a new claim if you received the severe disability premium in the last month and you're still eligible for it.

    Eligibility: To be able to apply for income-based ESA, you must:

    • Have three or more children, OR 
    • Get the severe disability premium, OR 
    • Have got the severe disability premium in the last month and still be eligible

    You will need to pass a capability for work assessment. This is a political hot potato. A large number of people claim, but there are accusations that some abuse the system. Don't let this put you off claiming if you think you're entitled to this allowance.

    The assessment looks at a series of activities and you are given points. If your total reaches at least 15, then you are assessed as having a limited capability for work. (There are some people who do not need to take this, for example, if you are terminally ill.) 

    If you are unable to work but have made national insurance contributions, check contribution-based employment and support allowance in the health section below.

    2022/23 weekly amount: Up to £61.05 if aged 24 or under, up to £77.00 if aged 25 or over.

    How to apply: Phone 0800 055 6688 or go to Gov.uk.

  • Pension credit

    Pension credit is an extra payment that guarantees most people over state pension age a minimum income, yet over 850,000 low income pensioners are failing to collect the pension credit they're eligible for according to Government figures.

    There are two types of pension credit. Guarantee credit tops up income for those on low amounts (savings over £10,000 may reduce the amounts), while savings credit is only for those who reached state pension age on or before 5 April 2016 and who have put aside some savings.

    For more info, see the full pension credit guide.

    2022/23 weekly amount: Guaranteed credit will top up any pension to £182.60 for a single person and £278.70 for a couple. Savings credit pays an extra £14.48 (single) or £16.20 (couples). There are extra amounts if you are disabled or a carer.

    How to apply: Call the Pension Service on 0800 99 1234 or download an application form from Gov.uk.

  • Housing benefit

    Housing benefit is help under the legacy benefit system for those on a low income who struggle to pay their rent. It will now form part of universal credit for new applicants or people whose circumstances change.

    Some people will still be able to get housing benefit. This includes you if:

    • You receive the severe disability premium (or you're entitled to it, or you've received it in the last month and are still eligible)
    • You're of state pension age
    • You live in temporary accommodation or sheltered housing

    There is some other eligibility criteria that you have to meet in order to get housing benefit.

    If you are in social housing (from a council or housing association), under housing benefit, your rent will be lowered.

    But your housing benefit might be reduced if you have a spare bedroom. How much your benefit's cut depends on how many spare bedrooms you have, it's lowered by 14% of the 'eligible rent' for one spare bedroom and 25% of the 'eligible rent' for two or more bedrooms.

    In private rented properties you'll be given the cash to pay your rent yourself. Here it's possible to receive weekly amounts up to £268.46 for a one-bed property, £311.40 for a two-bed, £365.09 for a three-bed and £429.53 for four or more beds.

    If you're eligible, you may also be able to apply for a discretionary housing payment. Each council has a set budget for further help with housing costs, although guidelines vary from place to place.

    2022/23 weekly amount: Depends on your rent, your income, where you live, how many bedrooms you have and how many people live in your home.

    How to apply: Either claim alongside one of the other income-based benefits above, get a claim form from your council (search for contact details for your council on Gov.uk or just Google "www.yourarea.gov.uk", eg www.barnet.gov.uk) or download a form from Gov.uk.

  • Council tax reduction

    Provides help to pay your council tax if you're on a low income.

    From April 2013, the national council tax benefit has been replaced with localised council tax support, where each local authority decides how much help to give.

    Most councils now ask residents to pay something towards their bill, even if they haven't paid before.

    If you're eligible for support you may also be able to apply for a discretionary housing payment. Each council has a set budget but guidelines vary from place to place.

    Check if your council gives discounts – for example, full-time students are free, single occupants get 25% off, and there's help for those with disabilities or 'severe mental impairment'.

    Also see the council tax reclaiming guide to see if you're in the right band.

    2022/23 weekly amount: Depends on your council tax. You could receive all or part of your bill depending on your income and where you live.

    How to apply: Contact your council or just Google "www.yourarea.gov.uk" to find out its procedure.

  • Schoolchildren: free milk, uniform costs and healthcare help

    Low income households – earning roughly under £16,000 – or on income-related benefits could get cash to help with sending their kids to school as well as free prescriptions, eye tests and dentist fees.

    Uniforms: Some councils help with the cost of school clothing and footwear. School uniform help is worth up to £200/year per child in Wales, up to £150/year per child in Scotland, up to £78/year per child in Northern Ireland and up to £150/year per child in England (though not all councils in England offer uniform support).

    Further help, including full eligibility criteria, is set out in our Can I get help with school uniform costs? guide.

    Fruit and veg: Healthy Start is a scheme that offers £4.25/week on a prepaid card if you're pregnant or have kids under four (£8.50/week for babies under one), to buy milk and fresh or frozen fruit and veg. You can use the card at most big supermarkets as well as some corner shops, greengrocers and market stalls. See more info on Healthy Start.

    Health costs: Help is available to pay for prescriptions, dental treatment, wigs, eye tests and glasses or contact lenses, plus travel to hospital.

    2022/23 amount: Varies, see above.

    How to apply: You can apply for uniform help via your school or council. Search for contact details for your council on the Gov.uk websiteHealthy Start applications can be made online or by calling 0300 330 7010.

    To get help with healthcare, complete form HC1 to get a HC2 (full help) or HC3 (partial help) certificate.

  • Free school meals

    If you're on certain means-tested benefits, such as universal credit, your child may be eligible to receive free school meals.

    Our free school meals guide covers who's eligible, and additional help you can get over the school holidays. 

    Note: This isn't to be confused with 'universal infant free school meals', available to all schoolchildren (in state-funded schools) from reception to year two. In Scotland, all children in primary one to five are entitled to universal infant free school meals. In Wales, all children in reception will be entitled to free school meals from September 2022, with a further roll-out to all children of primary school age by 2024.

  • Support for mortgage interest

    If you're struggling to pay your mortgage, the support for mortgage interest scheme could pay the mortgage interest for you.

    If you're eligible and claiming certain benefits, the Government steps in and makes the interest payments on the first £200,000 of your outstanding mortgage for the time you can't afford them. The level of interest is set by the Government – it's currently 2.09%. Your specific rate isn't used.

    As this only pays the interest, you'll need to cover the rest of the money yourself or temporarily see if you can switch to an interest-only mortgage.

    The money is usually paid directly to your lender. 

    Since April 2018, this has changed from a benefit to a loan (repayable upon returning to work or selling your home). This means that any claims made after April 2018 will need to be paid back.

    See our Mortgage arrears help guide for more info.

    2022/23 amount: Depends on your mortgage.

    How to apply: Depending on your circumstances, either via Jobcentre Plus or the Pensions Service if you're getting pension credit, or the universal credit helpline on 0800 328 5644 if you're claiming universal credit.

  • Budgeting loans and advances

    This is a Government scheme providing interest-free loans to help if you need essential items for your home or other things that you cannot pay for in a lump sum, such as clothes and furnishings.

    You can only apply if you've been on an income-based benefit for at least six months. Demand can be high, so there isn't a bottomless pit of money.

    Savings over £1,000 (or £2,000 if over 63) will affect any payments. The money needs to be paid back within two years, usually directly from your benefits. Repayments range from 5%-20% of your available income depending on your circumstances.

    If you're claiming universal credit, you'll have to apply for an advance rather than a budgeting loan. The maximum you can get is the amount of your first estimated payment. 

    2022/23 amount: You can apply to borrow from £100 to £812 depending on your circumstances, the urgency of your situation and funds available in your region. 

    How to apply: Apply via your nearest Jobcentre Plus or download a SF500 claim form from Gov.uk.

  • Funeral payment

    The funeral expenses payment can help pay for some of the burial or cremation fees – if you have no other way of paying. 

    You can also get up to £1,000 for other funeral expenses, such as funeral director's fees, flowers or the coffin. 

    2022/23 amount: Varies, depending on the costs and your circumstances.

    How to apply: Apply via your Jobcentre Plus or download a claim form from Gov.uk.

  • Council support schemes

    From April 2013, each local authority became responsible for providing help to its residents struggling with an emergency.

    Emergency situations include you or your family's health being at risk, not being able to afford to buy food, needing help to stay in your own home and coming out of care, hospital or prison.

    Sadly this is a postcode lottery. Each council can choose whether to offer financial help or not, and who is eligible. For example, some may give furniture or food grants while others may give cash.

    You don't have to pay the money back, but demand can be high and there isn't a bottomless pit of money, so your circumstances may mean you're not eligible.

    If you live in England, you may also get a one-off payment off your council tax bill. Apply for a council tax reduction at Gov.uk.

    2022/23 amount: Depends on the help offered by your council.

    How to apply: Contact your council or search the internet for your local authority's facilities to find out its procedure.

  • Cold weather payments

    Cold weather payments are made to those receiving certain benefits to help with gas and electricity costs during cold weather.

    They are automatically paid if the average temperature where you live is recorded as, or is forecast to be, zero degrees Celsius or below for more than seven consecutive days between 1 November and 31 March.

    Around four million people are potentially eligible, more than two million of whom are pensioners who receive pension credit.

    2022 weekly amount: £25 for each week of cold weather.

    How to apply: If you are eligible, you'll be paid automatically. More info on Gov.uk.

Support for those who are ill, disabled or elderly

There are a few specific benefits to help those who are ill, disabled or elderly. They can be claimed on top of some of the benefits above.

The main ones are the state pension – for those who have hit state pension age having built up national insurance credits – and the personal independence payment, which is available for those aged 16 to 64 and have a health condition or disability that affects their daily life or makes it hard to move around.

Also see the Over-50s guide for other MoneySaving tips or for specific help if you, or a friend or family member, have been diagnosed with cancer, try the Macmillan Support Line.

  • Attendance allowance

    If you're state pension age or over and need frequent help with personal care, or someone to supervise you, attendance allowance can help.

    You'll need to provide full details of how you need help, for example, dressing, eating, going to the toilet, washing or supervision to avoid harm to yourself and others. It is to provide support for people with physical difficulties (including sensory ones such as blindness) or mental issues (including learning difficulties and dementia) or both.

    Some will be asked to attend a medical examination to show what help you need.

    2022/23 weekly amount: There are two rates, low at £61.85 and high at £92.40.

    How to apply: You can claim by phoning 0345 605 6055 or by downloading a form from Gov.uk.

    In 2019 we discovered that more than three million disabled pensioners are not claiming but could.

  • Personal independence payment (or Adult disability payment)

    If you're over 16, and under state pension age, you could get personal independence payment (PIP) (known as Adult Disability Payment in Scotland) to help with extra costs caused by a long-term illness or disability.

    PIP has replaced the disability living allowance (DLA). You can only continue to get DLA if you were born on or before 8 April 1948 and you have an existing claim.

    If you were born after 8 April 1948 and are on DLA, you'll be invited to apply for PIP. You don't have to do anything until the Department for Work and Pensions writes to you, unless you have a change of circumstance. 

    To be eligible, you must be over 16, and under state pension age, and have a health condition or disability that affects your daily life or makes it hard for you to move around. It must have been going on for three months and be expected to continue for at least nine months (unless you're terminally ill and have less than six months to live). 

    The amount you get depends on how your condition affects you, not the condition itself. You will be assessed by a healthcare professional to work out what level of help you need. 

    2022/23 weekly amount: You can get £61.85 or £92.40 a week for the daily living part of PIP, and £24.45 or £64.50 for the mobility part.

    If you qualify for the mobility part of PIP, you may also be able to get a discount on your vehicle tax

    How to apply: You have to claim by telephone on 0800 917 2222 or by sending a letter via the post (though this can cause delays).

    If you live in Scotland, you can apply for adult disability payment online, or by calling 0800 182 2222. 

  • Carer's allowance

    This is available if you're caring for someone for more than 35 hours a week, and they receive attendance allowance, disability living allowance care component at either the middle or higher rate, or the daily living component of personal independence payment.

    You can continue to work, as long as you don't earn more than £123 a week after tax and expenses (for example, part of your pension contributions or childcare costs). You can also study, as long as it's under 21 hours a week.

    If you claim carer's allowance and live in Scotland, you'll also be eligible for the "carer's allowance supplement". This is a payment of £237.90, made twice a year in June and December. You should be paid this automatically if you qualify. 

    2022/23 weekly amount: £69.70.

    How to apply: If you live in England, Scotland or Wales you can claim online or download a form from Gov.uk. If you live in Northern Ireland, see NIdirect.

  • New-style employment and support allowance

    This is paid if you are sick/disabled and unable, or have limited capacity, to work – including if you're ill with or self-isolating because of coronavirus. You'll need to have paid enough national insurance contributions over the past two years to qualify for new-style employment and support allowance (ESA).

    ESA is a fortnightly payment and can normally cover you from the first day of sickness if the reason you're unable to work is coronavirus-related. It can be claimed alongside universal credit, but not alongside statutory sick pay or jobseeker's allowance.

    You'll initially be paid an 'assessment rate' until you undergo a 'capability for work' assessment. The assessment looks at a series of activities and you are given points. (There are some groups that do not need to take this, for instance, if you are terminally ill.) If your total reaches at least 15, then you are assessed as having a limited capability for work.

    After the assessment, you're placed in the work-related activity group or the support group. The work-related activity group is designed to help you prepare to go back to work. If you're in this group, you'll be able to claim new-style ESA for a maximum of 365 days and you may be required to complete certain 'preparing for work' tasks. If you don't complete any of these agreed tasks you may find that your ESA payment is reduced for a set period of time - this is called a 'sanction'. If you are in the support group, you are not expected to return to work, and there is no limit on the length of time you can claim new-style ESA.

    2022/23 weekly amount: During the 13-week assessment period, it's up to £61.05 if you're aged 24 or under and £77.00 if aged 25 or over. After that, the amount varies depending upon which work-related activity group you are in. Extra may also be available if you are disabled.

    How to apply: Online at the Gov.uk website.

  • Statutory sick pay

    Statutory sick pay is paid to employees if they are off sick from work for more than four days for a period of up to 28 weeks.

    Many employers will have a contractual agreement to pay more, in which case you do not need to claim the benefit, but this is the minimum you will get.

    2022/23 weekly amount: £99.35.

    How to apply: Speak to your employer or download a form from Gov.uk.

  • State pension

    The basic state pension is a Government-administered scheme, funded by national insurance contributions, to give those who have reached the Government-defined retirement age a guaranteed weekly income.

    Depending on when you retired you'll either get the old or new state pension. For a full guide on how the pension works, read our State pension guide.

    2022/23 weekly amount: You'll get about £185.15 (£141.85 on the old state pension) for a single person if you have built up the full amount of national insurance contributions (usually between 30 and 44 years depending on your sex and age). However, some people will get more, and some will get less.

    How to apply: You should automatically receive a form four months before you reach state pensionable age. If not, call 0800 731 7898 or download a form from Gov.uk.

  • Bereavement support payment

    If your spouse or civil partner passed away on or after 6 April 2017, you may be able to get some financial support. In order to eligible, your spouse or civil partner must have either:

    • Paid national insurance contributions for a minimum of 25 weeks, OR
    • Passed away due to a work accident or a disease caused by work

    They must have been under the state pension age, and based in the UK (or another country that offers bereavement benefits).

    You'll get a one-off payment and then monthly payment for 18 months.

    2022/23 amount: There are two different rates:

    • Higher rate. A one-off payment of £3,500 and monthly payments of £350.
    • Lower rate. A one-off payment of £2,500 and monthly payments of £100.

    If you get child benefit (or you're entitled to it but not claiming), you'll get the higher rate – otherwise, you'll get the lower rate, unless you were pregnant when your partner died.

    The bereavement support payment doesn't affect your other benefits for the first year.

    How to apply: Download a claim form from Gov.uk and apply via your local Jobcentre Plus. There's a different process if you're in Northern Ireland.

  • Winter fuel payments

    These are one-off payments made each winter to those over pension credit age, regardless of the temperature.

    2022 amount: Between £100 and £300.

    How to apply: If you're in receipt of some benefits you'll get it automatically, otherwise you'll have to claim on Gov.uk or you can call the Winter Fuel Payment Helpline on 0800 731 0160.

MSE weekly email

FREE weekly MoneySaving email

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes simply sign up today – it's spam-free!

Coronavirus forced you to take time off work? Check what help's available

There's still help available if you need to take time off of work due to coronavirus. This includes where you or your child is sick with the virus, and where you've been advised to self-isolate by a doctor or other medical professional ahead of surgery.

If you have to take time off work, and are worried about the financial implications, your first port of call should be to check out the following options:

  • Check your sick pay entitlement. If you're in work you'll usually be entitled to some form of sick leave pay. Check out our Sick pay rights guide to see what you might be entitled to.
     
  • Consider universal credit or new-style employment and support allowance (ESA). If you're not eligible for any sick pay – for example you're self-employed, or don't earn enough to qualify – universal credit and ESA may go some way to cover your dip in earnings. Don't treat it as a matter of one or the other: you can apply for both at the same time – the amount of universal credit you receive will simply be adjusted if your ESA claim is successful. Use our benefits checker to see if you're eligible.

  • Check if you qualify for an isolation payment. If you receive certain means-tested benefits (including universal credit), live in Wales or Scotland, and you have to self-isolate, you're eligible for a support payment for up to three periods of self-isolation you're required to undertake. See how to claim the isolation payment.

Where to get free help

If you're struggling for cash, go to a Citizens Advice bureau or one of the network of independent advice centres for a one-on-one detailed benefits check-up.

Our forum can provide lots of help too...

A further huge info resource is the Benefits and Tax Credits section in the MSE Forum, where a number of Citizens Advice-trained people and others voluntarily help out answering people's questions. A good place to start is the Useful Links thread. Special thanks to Fran, Alwaysonthego, Fermi and Kimitatsu for organising it.

And if you've serious money worries or debt problems...

This site lists lots of ways to help you try to cut costs, but the first place to start is our Debt problems guide. No debt problems are insoluble and this guide will help you.

If you've also got mental health problems, special solutions apply. For a full guide to handling debts when stressed, working with banks, getting free one-to-one debt counselling and tips for bipolar and depression sufferers, read our free Mental Health & Debt Help PDF booklet.

MSE weekly email

FREE weekly MoneySaving email

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes simply sign up today – it's spam-free!

Spotted out of date info/broken links? Email: brokenlink@moneysavingexpert.com