Income Support is a means-tested benefit paid to some people who can't work because they are ill or disabled.
Only limited groups of people can now apply for Income Support, including some carers and single parents with very young children.
What is Income Support?
Income Support is a benefit to cover basic living expenses. It is means-tested, so whether you can receive it and how much you get depends on any income, capital and savings you have. If you work part-time, the money you earn will also be taken into consideration.
To qualify for Income Support, you don’t need to have paid National Insurance contributions. Income Support is not taxable.
Only limited groups of people can now claim Income Support. This includes some carers and single parents with very young children.
A new benefit, Universal Credit, was introduced in 2013 to replace Income Support. If you are already getting Income Support, you will, at some point, be moved over to Universal Credit.
Do I qualify for Income Support?
You qualify for Income Support if:
- you have no more than £16,000 in capital (including any capital belonging to your partner, if you have one). Capital includes savings, investments and property (but not the home you live in). Some capital can be disregarded (for example, certain types of trust fund)
- you have a low (or no) weekly income
- you are not claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance
- you are not in full-time education (with some exceptions)
- you are aged 16 or over, and under the age at which you can receive Pension Credit (the qualifying age for Pension Credit is being increased from 60 to 66 between 2010 and 2020)
- neither you nor your partner, if you have one, work full-time. This means you can’t work for 16 hours a week or more, and your partner can’t work for 24 hours a week or more
- you are present in Great Britain or Northern Ireland, you are ‘habitually resident’ and you have a ‘right to reside’ in the UK, and
- you are in a group eligible to claim Income Support
Groups eligible to claim Income Support
You may be able to claim Income Support if:
- you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay
- you are caring for someone and getting Carer’s Allowance, or the person you are looking after gets a qualifying benefit, such as Attendance Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or Disability Living Allowance
- you are a lone parent and responsible for a child under 5, or
- you are pregnant and not able to work because of your pregnancy, or are due to have your baby within the next 11 weeks, or have had a baby within the last 15 weeks
How is Income Support worked out?
Income Support is worked out by comparing your income with your 'applicable amount' – a set of allowances based on your situation (and your partner’s, if you have one). It is calculated like this:
- Add up your savings. If you have more than £16,000 in savings, you can’t get Income Support. If you have savings of between £6,000 and £16,000, for each £250 (or part of £250) you have above £6,000, add £1 to your weekly income (see Step 2).
- Add up your weekly income. This includes earnings, most state benefits (but not Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment), occupational and personal pensions, and any other money that gives you an income after you have paid Income Tax and National Insurance contributions. Between £5 and £20 of earnings can be ignored, depending upon your circumstances.
- Work out your weekly applicable amount by adding together your personal allowances and any premiums or housing costs that apply to you (see below).
- If your income (including the amount you’ve added for any savings) is less than your applicable amount, you will be paid the difference as Income Support.
- Single person (aged under 25): £57.90 a week
- Single person (aged 25 or over): £73.10 a week
- Couple (both aged 18 or over): £114.85 a week
There are a number of extra amounts, explained below, that can be added to your personal allowance.
You’ll qualify for this if you get the highest rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance, the enhanced rate of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment, or Armed Forces Independence Payment.
- Single person: £15.90 a week
- Couple: £22.85 a week
You’ll qualify for this if you get Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Severe Disablement Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, you are certified as severely sight impaired or blind, or, for claims made before October 2008, you have been unable to work for 52 weeks or more.
- Single person: £32.55 a week
- Couple: £46.40 a week
Severe disability premium
You may qualify for this if you receive a ‘qualifying benefit’ and no one is paid Carer’s Allowance for looking after you.
Qualifying benefits include: Attendance Allowance, the middle or highest rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance and the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
To get the severe disability premium you must also:
- live alone
- live only with another adult (or adults – including your partner) who gets a qualifying benefit themselves, or
- live only with certain specified people, such as a joint-owner or tenant of the property who is not your partner or close relative
If both you and your partner satisfy the above rules, you get the higher rate. If you satisfy the rules but your partner does not (for example, if they have a carer who receives Carer’s Allowance), then the lower rate is paid.
- Single person: £62.45 a week
- Couple (one person qualifies): £62.45 a week
- Couple (both qualify): £124.90 a week
You’ll qualify for this if you are a carer who is entitled to Carer’s Allowance. You still qualify if you are entitled to Carer’s Allowance but can’t be paid it because you are receiving another benefit that overlaps with Carer’s Allowance.
- Carer premium: £34.95 a week
Please note: if a person you care for receives the severe disability premium in their Income Support, they will lose this if you are paid Carer’s Allowance. This doesn’t apply if you are entitled to Carer’s Allowance but do not receive it because of an overlapping benefit.
If you own and live in your home, you may be given an extra allowance to help cover the interest on a mortgage or to cover specified service charges.
You won’t usually get this help for the first 39 weeks of your claim. If you pay rent, you may be able to claim Housing Benefit instead to help with your housing costs.
How do I claim Income Support?
You’ll need to call the Jobcentre Plus claim line on 0800 055 6688 (textphone 0800 023 4888). They will take your details and go through your claim over the phone. If you live in Northern Ireland, contact your local Jobs & Benefits or Social Security Office or call 0800 022 4250.
If you are not able to use the telephone, a claim can be made using a paper form – the A1. You can get this from your local Jobcentre Plus office (or local Jobs & Benefits or Social Security Office in Northern Ireland).
If you have any problems with your claim, you can ask for help from your local Citizens Advice or welfare rights group.
You might have to go to a ‘work-focused interview’ as a condition of continuing to receive Income Support.
What if my circumstances change?
It is always important to provide full, accurate information to benefits offices, and to let them know if your circumstances change.
If you don’t do this, your benefits may be stopped, you may receive demands for repayment, or you may face prosecution.