10-minute benefits check

Use our Benefits Calculator to find out what you can get

With the cost of living in the UK rising massively, lots of people are struggling. Luckily there's help available – and it's not just for those out of work. There's support for those earning but still struggling, plus additional help if you've got children, caring responsibilities, or a long-term health condition. Millions of people are missing out on an estimated £19 BILLION in unclaimed benefits, so it's always worth a quick check. 

What benefits can I claim?

This Benefits Calculator is your first quick check to see if you're eligible for support. The calculator will work out if you can claim any financial help based on your income and savings, and will also flag up some (but not all) of the relevant non-means-tested benefits, based on the information you provide about your circumstances.

Important: What you're entitled to will depend on your exact circumstances – the calculator is only as accurate as the info you put into it. 

What next?

If the calculator says that you're eligible for support, you can read more about the basics of applying and find links to places that can provide support through your application journey. If you have children, caring responsibilities, or a long-term health condition, you may also want to check out the sections below to see if there's any additional non-means-tested support that you qualify for. 

If the calculator does not find any support for you based on your income, you may still be eligible for other help if you're struggling. Work through the sections below to see what you may qualify for. 

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Will I qualify for benefits?

If you're struggling financially, it's likely that you'll be eligible for some sort of financial help – even if you're in work, or don't think you have a low income. The best way to see what you could claim is to use the Benefits Calculator above. It'll take a look at your personal circumstances and suggest what help could be available. 

The main thing to remember is benefits are NOT just for the unemployed. State support is designed to help those in a range of situations, from those struggling on a low income, to new families, to those with long-standing medical conditions – so it's worth checking the Benefits Calculator to see if you could be entitled to any support.

Recent estimates reveal that eligible households are missing out on more than £19 billion a year of means-tested benefits. That's without including non-means-tested benefits, such as those for people with disabilities. So, if you're in need of support it's well worth a 10-minute check to see if you're one of them.

What does low income mean?


When it comes to claiming benefits, our general rule is: it's worth checking whether you qualify if you have a household income under £40,000 a year (particularly if you rent and have children).

The main thing to remember is benefits are not just for the unemployed. State support is designed to help those in a range of situations, from those struggling on a low income, to new families, to those with long-standing medical conditions. Even someone earning a high salary could be eligible for some help.

Is there a maximum amount of benefits you can claim?

If you're over 16, and under state pension age, you'll usually only be able to claim a certain amount in benefits, due to the 'benefit cap'. The benefit cap is a government limit on state support. The maximum amount you can claim depends on where in the UK you live, and your living situation. 

This table shows the amounts you can claim up to each month, depending on your personal circumstances:

  Outside London London
Single  £1,229.42 £1,412.92
Single parent £1,835.00 £2,110.25
Couple £1,835.00 £2,110.25

If you claim certain benefits (such as personal independence payment or carer's allowance), or you're over state pension age, you might not be affected by the benefit cap – meaning you'll be able to claim more than this amount in state support each month. 

Benefits for those working and on a low income

If you're on a low income and qualify for means-tested benefits, chances are you'll have to apply for universal credit – a monthly benefit designed to support people struggling with their living and housing costs. 

However, universal credit is just one of the benefits available to support those struggling. In some cases you may be able to claim multiple benefits at the same time. Try out the Benefits Calculator and explore the links below to see what you can claim. 

  • Universal credit – a means-tested benefit for those under state pension age

    Universal credit (UC) is a monthly benefit designed to support people struggling with their living and housing costs. If you’re unemployed, off work due to sickness, or have a low income, and have less than £16,000 in savings, you could be entitled to universal credit.

    It’s based on need and worked out monthly. So, if you earn less in one month, you'll get more universal credit (and visa versa). You can also get extra amounts depending on your circumstances, for example, if you have children, a sickness or disability, or pay rent.

    On top of the monthly payment, claiming universal credit can also open up access to other forms of support too, depending on your circumstances.  This includes support with childcare, and reduced tariffs for utilities and broadband. And, depending on your circumstances, you may be able to claim other benefits alongside UC too.

    For more info see the full Universal credit guide. 

  • Pension credit – a means-tested benefit for those over state pension age

    Pension credit is an extra payment that guarantees most people over state pension age a minimum income

    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) to £218.15 a week, while savings credit is for those who reached state pension age on or before 5 April 2016 and put aside some savings. There are extra amounts available if you are disabled or a carer too.

    For more info, see the full Pension credit guide.

    To apply, call all the Pension Service on 0800 99 1234 or head to the Gov.uk website.

  • Council tax reduction – help with your council tax bill

    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.

    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'.

    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.

    To apply contact your council or google "www.yourarea.gov.uk" to find out its procedure.

Unemployment benefits

The main benefit available for those out of work – either temporarily or due to a long-term health condition – is universal credit.

However, if you've lost your job recently, and are not eligible for universal credit because you received a large redundancy payment (or have too much in savings), you may be able to claim new-style jobseeker's allowance instead.

  • Universal credit – a means-tested benefit for those with low or no income

    Universal credit (UC) is a monthly benefit designed to support people struggling with their living and housing costs. If you're unemployed, off work due to sickness, or have a low income and you have less than £16,000 in savings, you could be entitled to universal credit. 

    You'll also get extra amounts depending on your circumstances for example, if you have children, a sickness or disability, or pay rent.

    The easiest way to check whether you might be eligible is to use our Benefits Calculator. Or if you want to read more about how universal credit works we cover it in detail in our Universal credit guide.

    The amount you get in universal credit is a sliding scale based on need, so if you start earning in the future your universal credit will go down, but won't automatically stop. 

  • New-style jobseeker's allowance – non-means-tested support for those who have recently lost their job

    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' jobseeker's allowance (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 any savings you (or your partner) have won't affect your entitlement, but also means it makes no allowances for extra costs such as children or rent. 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.

    The only exception is that 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. 

Benefits for families

Looking after children is expensive. But luckily, there's a raft of benefits available for families with all different circumstances – including child benefit which is available to anyone with dependent children under 16 and earning less than £80,000.

This section includes benefits specifically available to those looking after children. However, depending on your circumstances, you may find that you're also eligible for some of the benefits in the other sections too.

Whether you qualify for benefits or not, there are lots of ways to get extra support with the cost of childcare. Head to our Help with childcare costs, and Baby MoneySaving guides to find the right option for you. 

  • Child benefit – for those earning less than £60,000 with children under 16

    Child benefit is for parents, or guardians, with children under 16 (or 20 in some cases).

    You’ll get £24.00 a week for your eldest child, and £15.90 a week for your other children. It's paid every four weeks 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 £60,000. If you earn more than £80,000 you lose all your benefit through tax. For a breakdown of how it works, head to our full Child benefit guide.

    To claim for the first time you’ll need to fill in a child benefit claim form (CH2) and send it to the Child Benefit office (the address on the form). If your child is adopted, you’ll need to send their adoption certificate too.

    If you didn’t apply when your child was born/adopted, you can apply any time before they turn 16, but you can only backdate your claim by three months.

    If you want to add another child to your claim, and they’re under six months old, you should call the child benefit helpline instead of filling out another form: 0300 200 3100. Make sure you have your national insurance number, and your child’s birth certificate to hand when you call.

  • Free school meals – for those on means-tested benefits and a very low or no income

    If you're on certain means-tested benefits, such as universal credit or tax credits, and earn less than the current threshold, 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 have been entitled to free school meals since September 2022, with a further roll-out to all children of primary school age by 2024.

  • Healthy start voucher (Eng & Wales) – means-tested help with food costs for children under four

    If you have a child under four, and get certain means-tested benefits, such as universal credit, and earn below the relevant thresholds, you may be eligible for a Healthy Start card.

    Healthy Start is a scheme that offers £4.25 a week on a prepaid card if you're pregnant or have kids under four (£8.50 a week for babies under one), to buy milk and fresh or frozen fruit and veg. You’ll also get free vitamins for whilst you’re pregnant, and for children aged four weeks to four years.  You can use the card at any store that accepts Mastercard.

    See more info on Healthy Start.

    If you get universal credit or child tax credits you can apply online. If you’re on income support, income-based JSA, pension credit, working tax credit, under 18 (and on no benefits), child tax credit, income-related ESA, you can apply by email or phone (0300 330 7010).

    You may still be eligible for a Healthy Start card if you have no recourse to public funds, as long as your child is a British citizen, and your household income is £408, or less, a month (after tax).

  • Best start foods (Scotland) – means-tested help with food costs for children under four

    If you're on universal credit, or another income-related benefits (such as tax credits or income support), or you're under 18 (and not on any benefits) you could get a Best Start Foods card.

    Best Start Foods is a prepaid card that can be used to buy healthy food and drink such as milk or fruit, if you're pregnant or have a child under three. You'll get £21.20 loaded on to your card every four weeks during pregnancy, £42.40 every four weeks from your child being born up until they're one year old, then £21.20 every four weeks when your child is between one and three.

    To apply, fill in this online form, or call 0800 182 2222. You can also use this form to apply for the Best Start Grants, and Scottish child payment at the same time. 

    You may still be eligible for a Best Start Foods card if you have no recourse to public funds, as long as your child is a British citizen, and your family income is £660 or less a month (after tax).

  • Guardian's allowance – for those raising children after the death of their parent

    Guardian’s allowance is for those bringing up a child because one or both of their parents have died. It's non-means-tested, but you'll need to be claiming child benefit to apply. 

    If you’re eligible, you’ll get £21.75 a week, paid every four weeks, on top of your child benefit payments.

    To claim, you’ll need to fill out this form and send to the Guardians’ Allowance Unit, with the original copies of the child’s full birth certificate, and the parent’s death certificates.

  • Statutory maternity pay – for those who are pregnant and in employment

    Statutory maternity pay (SMP) is for those who are pregnant and employed. You’ll get 90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first weeks, then you’ll receive £184.03 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks.

    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 the 15th week before your baby is due (this is called your ‘qualifying week’) and earn on average at least £123 a week.

    Statutory maternity pay usually starts when you take your maternity leave, but it’ll also start automatically if you’re off work for a pregnancy related illness in the four weeks before the week that your baby is due.

    SMP is paid the same way you’d normally get paid. To make sure you get yours, you’ll have to give your employer notice that you’re pregnant, and when you’d like to start your maternity leave. You’ll also need to provide proof that you’re pregnant. This can be a letter from your midwife or doctor, or your MATB1 certificate.

    Statutory maternity pay is the minimum that employers have to offer, but you might get more if your company has its own maternity scheme.

  • Maternity allowance – for those not entitled to statutory maternity pay

    If you're on maternity leave but are not entitled to statutory maternity pay (for example, you were self-employed), then you can 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 date.

    There are some exceptions, but it's usually 90% of your average weekly earnings or £184.03, whichever is less, for the full 39 weeks.

    To apply talk to your midwife or download the maternity allowance claim form (MA1) from the Gov.uk website. The form will ask for information about your work during the 66 weeks before your baby is due, including proof of income. You’ll also need to send proof of your baby’s due date. This could be a letter from your doctor or midwife, or you MATB1 certificate.

  • Statutory paternity pay – for those taking time off work when their partner is having a baby

    Statutory Paternity Pay is for those taking time off work because their partner is having a baby.

    You’ll get either £184.03 a week, or 90% of you average weekly earnings (whichever is lower), for the one or two weeks you take off work. It’ll be paid in the same way as your normally get your wages.

    Your time off cannot start until the birth and must end within 56 days of the birth (or due date if your baby is early).

    To qualify for paternity pay and leave, you’ll need to have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks by the 15th week before your baby's due date (this is called your ‘qualifying week’) and earn on average at least £123 a week.

    Statutory paternity pay is the minimum that employers have to offer, but you might get more if your company has its own scheme.

    Normally, you can apply for paternity leave and pay through your employer. If your employer has their own form fill that in, otherwise, fill in this form.

    You may also be eligible for shared parental leave (SPL), but you cannot take Paternity Leave after you take SPL. There are also slightly different rules if you’re adopting.

  • Statutory adoption pay – for those taking time off work to adopt a child

    Statutory adoption pay is for those taking time off work to adopt a child.

    You can get up to 52 weeks of statutory adoption leave, but you’ll only get adoption pay for the first 39 weeks.

    Statutory adoption pay is 90% of you average weekly earnings, for the first six weeks you take off work, then £184.03 a week, or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks.

    To qualify, you’ll need to have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks up to any day in the week you are matched with your child, and earn on average £123 or more a week.

    To claim statutory adoption pay, talk to employer. You’ll usually have to give at least 28 day’s notice, and provide proof of adoption (for example, a letter from the adoption agency or your matching certificate).

    Statutory adoption pay is the minimum that employers have to offer, but you might get more if your company has its own scheme.

  • Best start grants (Scotland) – means-tested grants for those who have recently had children

    If you live in Scotland, claim certain means-tested benefits, (or are under 18 and not on benefits) and have recently had a child, you might be eligible for the best start grants – three one-off payments made over the first years of your child’s life.

    • Pregnancy and Baby Payment. You can get the pregnancy and baby payment any time after you have reached the end of the 24th week of pregnancy until the day your baby is 6 months old. If you’ve taken over looking after a child (for example, you’ve adopted), you can apply up to the day before the child’s first birthday. You can get the payment for each child (as long as they are the right age when you apply) but the amount paid will be different if you have more than one child.
    • Early Learning Payment. To help with costs of early learning. It’s paid when your child is between two and three and a half years old.
    • School Age Payment. To help with costs of preparing for school. To get a payment your child does not have to take up a place at school,  but you’ll still need to apply in the year that your child is first old enough to start school.

    For the full detail on each of the best start grant payments, see our Maternity grants guide.

    If you’re eligible for the best start grants, You may also be able to get Scottish child payment and Best start foods –  you can apply for these using the same online form. Or you can apply by post, or over the phone. 

    If your child is stillborn, or dies after they were born, you can still get the Pregnancy and Baby Payment part of the Best Start Grant.You can apply up to six months after the baby’s birth date.

  • Scottish child payment – for low-income Scots with children under 16

    If you're a Scottish resident on a low income, and look after a child under sixteen, you may be able to apply for Scottish child payment, which gives parents or guardians £26.70 a week towards the cost of raising a child.

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

    • Universal credit
    • 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

    If your claim is successful, you'll get the payment every four weeks until your child turns 16.

    You can apply for Scottish child payment on the same form as the Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods – or you can apply separately, using this form, if you prefer.  

  • Widowed parent's allowance – for parents who lost their partner before April 2017

    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. A new law change also newly qualifies those who were unmarried and not in civil partnerships with their late partners. 

    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.

    2024/25 weekly amount: A maximum of £148.40

    For more on how to apply and all the ins and outs of back payments see our Bereavement Support Payments guide.  

    To apply, download a claim form from the Gov.uk website and apply via your local Jobcentre Plus.

    If you're not eligible because your partner died after April 2017, might be able to get bereavement support payment

  • Disability living allowance – for children under 16 who have difficulty walking

    If you live in England or Wales and have a child under 16 who has difficulties walking, or needs more support than a child of the same age, you may be able to claim disability living allowance (DLA). DLA is made up of two parts: the 'care' component, and the 'mobility' component. 

    To qualify, your child must have had these difficulties for at least three months and expect them to last for at least six months. The only exception is if your child is expected to have less than six months to live. In this case, you can get DLA straightaway. 

    DLA works slightly differently in Northern Ireland. For full details, head to NIdirect. If you live in Scotland, you won't be able to apply for DLA, but you may qualify for child disability payment.

    You can apply for DLA by either printing off and filling in the DLA claim form, or phoning the DLA helpline and asking for a printed form. If a medical professional has said your child might have six months or less to live, you should phone the DLA helpline. You’ll also need a medical professional to fill out form DS1500

    When your child turns 16, they'll need to apply for the personal independence payment (PIP) to keep getting financial support. They should get a letter inviting them to apply shortly after their 16th birthday. Your child's DLA payments will stop unless they apply for PIP by the date given in the letter.

    You might qualify for carer's allowance if you spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a child who gets the middle or highest care rate of DLA.

Sickness or disability benefits

Living with a disability or long-term illness can come with a lot of additional financial pressure. There are a range of benefits available specifically for those with long-term medical conditions, and those who care for them – many of which are not means-tested.

There are also specific benefits for those injured at work, during service in the armed forces, or those over state pension age who need additional care.

  • Armed forces independence payment – non-means-tested benefit for veterans injured during service

    Armed forces independence payment is a non-means-tested benefit designed to help cover extra costs you may have because of an injury received during service.

    To be eligible, you must be entitled to a guaranteed income payment (GIP) of 50% or higher of your previous earnings through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme – (AFCS GIP Band A to C).  If you receive compensation from the War Pensions Scheme, you're not also entitled to this benefit too.

    If you're eligible for armed forces independence payment, you'll get it for as long as you're entitled to AFCS GIP in Band A to C, and, you'll be exempt from the benefit cap.

    Veterans UK should automatically issue a claim form to those who have an 'AFCS GIP' which is in Band A to C. If you don't get one, and think you should have, contact Veterans UK.  

    If you're not entitled to this payment, you may be eligible for the personal independence payment or adult disability payment instead.

  • Attendance allowance – for those over state pension age who need help with daily activities

    If you're state pension age or over and need someone to help look after you, you could be eligible for attendance allowance. You can’t claim attendance allowance if you already get disability living allowance, the personal independence payment or adult disability payment.

    There are two different rates of attendance allowance, depending on how much help you need:

    • Lower rate - £72.65 a week – for those who need frequent help or constant supervision during the day, or supervision at night.
    • Higher rate - £108.55 a week – for those who need help or supervision throughout both day and night, or medical professional has said you might have six months or less to live.

    To claim attendance allowance, you’ll need to have evidence that you have a physical or mental condition that means you require help caring for yourself, and that you’ve needed that help for at least six months (unless you might have less than six months to live). You may need to go to an assessment to check your eligibility.

    To claim, fill in this form, and send it to 'Freepost DWP Attendance Allowance' (you don’t need a postcode or stamp), or call 0800 731 0122

    Attendance allowance can be backdated. This is usually to the date your form is received, or the date you call the enquiry line (as long as you return the claim pack within six weeks).

    For full info on attendance allowance and how to apply, head to our attendance allowance guide. 

  • Blind person's allowance – extra tax allowance for those with severe sight impairments

    If you’re blind or severely sight impaired, you may be eligible for blind person’s allowance. This is an extra tax-free allowance – meaning you can earn more before you start paying income tax. The allowance for the current tax year is £3,070.

    If you don’t pay tax – or earn enough to use all your allowance – you can transfer your blind person’s allowance to your spouse or civil partner.

    Eligibility criteria varies across the UK:

    • In England and Wales, you are eligible for blind person’s allowance if you’re registered as blind or severely sight impaired with your local council as blind or severely sight impaired, and you have a certificate from your doctor.
    • In Scotland and Northern Ireland, you’ll get the allowance if you can’t do work for which eyesight is essential, and you have a certificate from your doctor that says you’re blind or severely sight impaired.

    To claim, call HM Revenue & Customs on 0300 200 3301.

  • Personal independence payment – non-means-tested support for those with long term health conditions

    If you're over 16, and under state pension age, and live in Scotland, you could get adult disability payment to help with extra costs caused by a long-term illness or disability.

    Your health condition or disability must affect your daily life or make it hard for you to move around by yourself. Generally to be eligible it'll need to 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 12 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. 

    2024/2025 weekly amount: You can get £72.65 or £108.55 a week for the daily living part of the personal independence payment, and £28.70 or £75.75 for the mobility part.

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

    You can claim the personal independence payment by calling the Department for Work and Pensions on 0800 917 2222 or by sending a letter via the post (though this can cause delays).

  • Adult disability payment (Scotland) – non-means-tested support for those with long-term health conditions

    If you're over 16, and under state pension age, and live in Scotland, you could get adult disability payment to help with extra costs caused by a long-term illness or disability.

    Your health condition or disability must affect your daily life or make it hard for you to move around by yourself. Generally to be eligible it'll need to 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 12 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. 

    You can get £72.65 or £108.55 a week for the daily living part, and £28.70 or £75.75 for the mobility part.

    You can apply for adult disability payment online, or by calling 0800 182 2222. 

  • Carer's allowance – support for those who provide care for more than 35 hours a week

    If you're caring for someone for more than 35 hours a week, and they receive attendance allowance, the disability living allowance care component at either the middle or higher rate, or the daily living component of personal independence payment, you could be eligible for a carer's allowance payment of £81.90 a week.

    You can continue to work, as long as you don't earn more than £139 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 for less than 21 hours a week.

    You can’t get the full amount of carer’s allowance and state pension at the same time. If your pension is £81.90 a week or more, you’ll not get any carer’s allowance. However, if your pension is less £81.90 a week, carer’s allowance will make up the difference.

    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 £288.60, made twice a year in June and December. You should be paid this automatically if you qualify. 

    If you live in England, Scotland or Wales you can claim online or download a form from the Gov.uk website. If you live in Northern Ireland, see NIdirect.

    Important: If you claim carer's allowance, the person you care for may see their benefit entitlement reduce. 

    If you’re not eligible for carer's allowance, you might still be eligible for carer's credit – you won't get the payment, but you'll receive national insurance credits that go towards your state pension. 

  • Disability living allowance – for children under 16 who have difficulty walking

    If you live in England or Wales and have a child under 16 who has difficulties walking, or needs more support than a child of the same age, you may be able to claim disability living allowance (DLA). DLA is made up of two parts: the 'care' component, and the 'mobility' component. 

    To qualify, your child must have had these difficulties for at least three months and expect them to last for at least six months. The only exception is if your child is expected to have less than six months to live. In this case, you can get DLA straightaway. 

    DLA works slightly differently in Northern Ireland. For full details, head to NIdirect. If you live in Scotland, you won’t be able to apply for DLA, but you may qualify for child disability payment.

    You can apply for DLA by either printing off and filling in the DLA claim form, or phoning the DLA helpline and asking for a printed form. If a medical professional has said your child might have six months or less to live, you should phone the DLA helpline. You’ll also need a medical professional to fill out form DS1500

    When your child turns 16, they’ll need to apply for the personal independence payment (PIP) to keep getting financial support. They should get a letter inviting them to apply shortly after their 16th birthday. Your child's DLA payments will stop unless they apply for PIP by the date given in the letter.

    You might qualify for carer's allowance if you spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a child who gets the middle or highest care rate of DLA.

  • Disability facilities grants – one-off grant for home modifications

    The disability facilities grant is a one-off payment you can get from your council if you’re disabled and need to make changes to your home, (for example widening doors, or installing ramps).

    What you get will depend on your household income, and any savings you have over £6,000. Each UK nation provides different maximum amounts:

    • In England, you can get up to £30,000
    • In Wales, up to £36,000
    • In Northern Ireland, up to £25,000

    The disability facilities grant isn’t available in Scotland, however you may still be able to apply for discretionary support from your local council.

    Depending on the work you’re getting done your council may pay the contractor directly, or give you a cheque to pass on to them. They’ll arrange this with you when they approve your application

    To apply, get in touch with your council

  • New-style employment and support allowance – for those with long-term health conditions who have recently been employed

    New-style employment and support allowance (ESA) is a fortnightly payment for those who have limited capacity to work due to a long term health condition or disability. 

    To qualify, you'll usually need to have been working within the last two to three years, and have paid or been credited with enough national insurance contributions in the two full tax years before the year you make your claim.

    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 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.

    After your claim has been assessed, what you'll get will depend on whether you are in the 'work-related activity' group or the 'support group. 

    If you fall into the 'support group', may also qualify for severe disability premium on any other benefit you claim, and you won't be affected by the benefit cap.

    ESA can be claimed alongside universal credit and/or the personal independence payment, however if you get both universal credit and ESA, your universal credit will be reduced by the amount you get for ESA. You can't claim ESA alongside statutory sick pay, but you can apply up to three months before your statutory sick pay ends.

    You can apply for ESA online. You'll then be contacted by the Department for Work and Pensions within 10 days to arrange an appointment to discuss your condition and arrange a work capability assessment.

    If you're already claiming ESA and want to start working more than 16 hours a week, fill in the ESA permitted work form, and send it to the address at the top of your ESA letters.

  • Industrial injuries disablement benefit – for those who have become ill or disabled due to work

    If you become ill or are disabled because of an accident or disease either at work or on an approved employment training scheme or course, you might get industrial injuries disablement benefit.

    As a guideline – depending on the level of injury or illness you could get between £44.30 and £221.50 a week. 

    Unfortunately, if you are self-employed, you are not able to claim. Here's all the information about eligibility and how to claim.

  • Statutory sick pay – for workers who need to take time off due to illness

    Statutory sick pay is paid by UK employers to employees who are off work due to illness. Currently this rate is set at £116.75 a week, and you can claim it for up to 28 weeks, as long as you meet the qualifying criteria.

    If you’re unwell for more than seven consecutive days (including non-working days) you’ll need to provide a ‘fit note’.

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

    Statutory sick pay is generally paid the same way as your wages, speak to your employer directly if you think you qualify.

    For full info, see our Sick pay rights guide. 

Benefits for over-65s

Once you reach state pension age, you won't be eligible for some of the main means-tested benefits, such as universal credit. Instead, there is a mix of specific state support for those aged 65 and over. Some is based on how much you get from your pension and/or savings, while others are designed to support people with particular additional needs. 

  • Attendance allowance – for those who need frequent help with daily activities

    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.

    There are two rates, 'low' at £72.65 and 'high' at £108.55 – which you'll get will depend on how much additional help you need.

    You can claim by phoning 0345 605 6055 or by downloading a form from the Gov.uk website.

  • Pension credit – means-tested pension top-up

    Pension credit is an extra payment that guarantees most people over state pension age a minimum income, yet over 850,000 low income pensioner households 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.

    Guarantee credit will top up any pension to £218.15 for a single person and £332.95 for a couple. Savings credit pays an extra £17.01 (single) or £19.04 (couples). There are extra amounts if you are disabled or a carer.

    For more info, see our full Pension credit guide.

    To apply, call the Pension Service on 0800 99 1234 or download an application form from the Gov.uk website.

  • Warm home discount – £150 off energy bills for some on pension credit

    Those on certain benefits in England and Wales can get £150 off their energy bills. If you're eligible, you should receive this discount automatically between October 2024 and March 2025. 

    If you live in Scotland, you will need to apply for the discount.

    To qualify, you'll need to be claiming the guarantee credit element of pension credit, and have high energy costs (or, if you live in Scotland, meet your energy supplier's criteria for the scheme). 

    The Government has an online eligibility checker, so you can see whether to expect the payment. 

  • Winter fuel payment – one-off payments to help with cost of heating

    These are one-off payments of between £100 and £300 made each winter to those over state pension age, regardless of the temperature.

    If you're receiving some benefits you'll get it automatically, otherwise you'll have to claim on the Gov.uk website or you can call the winter fuel payment helpline on 0800 731 0160.

  • State pension – weekly benefit for those who have made national insurance contributions

    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 get the old or new state pension. For full info on how this works, read our State pension guide.

    You'll get about £221.20 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.

    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 the Gov.uk website.

Financial support after a death

Losing a close relative can be an incredibly difficult time emotionally and financially.

There is financial support available when someone close to you dies if you need help with the cost of a funeral, and into the future. 

  • Bereavement support payment – means-tested support if your partner has passed away

    If your partner passed away on or after 6 April 2017, you may be able to get some financial support. To be eligible, your partner (spouse, civil partner or co-habiting) 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.

    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.

    To apply, download a claim form from the Gov.uk website and apply via your local Jobcentre Plus. There's a different process if you're in Northern Ireland.

    Co-habiting couples newly eligible 

    The bereavement support payment was initially only available when a spouse died to eligible parents who were married or in a civil partnership.  

    But as of 9 February, unmarried parents who lived together now qualify. It follows a ruling by both the Supreme Court and High Court that found it was against the human rights of those who aren't married but living together with a child not to offer the same support that is offered to those who are married. 

    For further information and full eligibility, see our Bereavement Support Payments guide. 

  • Funeral expenses payment – support for funeral costs if you claim certain benefits

    If you get certain benefits, and need help paying for a funeral for your partner or child, you may be able to claim 'funeral expenses payment'.

    If you’re a close relative or friend, you might get the payment if the deceased didn’t have a partner when they died, or their partner or parent can’t claim (for example, because they live abroad or are in prison).

    Your funeral expenses payments will be deducted from any money you get left by the deceased (including any money or property they had, but not a home or personal items left to a widow, widower or civil partner).

    The payment can be used to help pay for: burial fees, cremation fees, travel to arrange or go to the funeral, cost of moving the body with the UK (if more than 50 miles), death certificates or other documents

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

    If the deceased had a pre-paid funeral plan, you can only claim up to £120 to help pay for items not covered by their plan.

    You'll need to apply within 6 months of the funeral, with an invoice or signed contract from the funeral director. You can claim by calling the Bereavement Service helpline, or by post by downloading and filling in this claim form.

    If you live in Scotland you can apply for the Funeral Support Payment. While this payment will not usually cover the full cost of a funeral it can help with travel, burial/cremation and other funeral costs. The average total payment is £1,800, but the amount you get will depend on a number of factors. You can find all the information on the MyGov.Scot website.

Some benefits are being replaced

As part of the Government's efforts to make claiming benefits more streamlined, some benefits are being replaced (and some will no longer be available at all).

The main ones are the six 'legacy benefits' being replaced by universal credit.

  • Income support
  • Income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • Income-related employment and support allowance
  • Housing benefit
  • Child tax credit
  • Working tax credit

If you're currently claiming one of these benefits you'll receive a letter letting you know that it's time for you to move on to universal credit, as part of a process called 'managed migration'. It'll include instructions on how to make sure there's no gap in support while you move over. The Government is intending to complete this managed-migration process by the end of 2028.

You can also choose to move on to universal credit at any point – and some people will find that they are better off on universal credit than on their old benefits. But there's no guarantee, and if you choose to move over early, you'll lose some of the protections that come with the managed-migration process.

Our Benefits Calculator can help you check whether you'll get more or less on universal credit. Or head to our Should I switch to universal credit? guide for the full breakdown of the pros and cons of switching.

Where to get free help

If our calculator (or your own research) shows you might be eligible for benefits, you can either make a Universal Credit claim, or, for other types of benefits, check Gov.UK's benefits site for the best route to apply. 

Check Citizens Advice for help applying

If you're struggling to apply or still not sure you're eligible for anything, you can go to a Citizens Advice bureau or one of the network of independent advice centres for a one-on-one detailed benefits check-up. Or call Citizens Advice's 'help to claim service' on 0800 144 8 444. 

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 insolvable 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.

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