If you are having financial difficulties, an important first step is to ensure that you are claiming all of the benefits are eligible for.
You should always remember that benefits are designed and intended to help people to live the best life possible. It is important that you apply for all the help that is available to you.
If you are already receiving benefits, you should ensure your situation is reviewed every couple of months. Eligibility and availability of benefits changes frequently and a review of your position can often lead to you receiving more money or new benefits.
Different benefits cover different life situations:
- Looking for work - Universal Credit and Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Temporarily unable to work - Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Statutory Sick Pay
- Benefits and financial support for families - Maternity Allowance and Child Benefit
- Caring for someone - Carer’s Allowance, Pension Credit and Universal Credit
- Financial support if you are in a low income - Housing Benefit, Council Tax Support and Universal Credit
- Financial support when someone dies - Bereavement Support Payment and Universal Credit
If you are a Pensioner, you may be eligible to receive Pension Credits, even if you have a retirement income or own your own home. You should check the Government's Pension Credit toolkit to see if you could claim Pension Credits, they can provide access to a range of other benefits, such as help with Housing Costs, Council Tax and Heating Bills.
There are also benefits that are available for more specialised life events. For example, if you are an Armed Forces veteran, a student, or have recently arrived in the country.
You may also be eligible to receive discounts on your council tax for different reasons, including living alone, working as an apprentice, or if you have a disibility.
The best way for you to understand which benefits you may be eligible to receive, is to use a benefits calculator. This tool shows you the different benefits you may be eligible to receive, depending on your circumstances, age, your employment situation, and your health.
There are a number of benefits calculators that you can use, with the main one being the government's benefits calculator.
There are also independent calculators that you can also use:
- Policy in Practice have a calculator. They work with the government, councils, housing providers and community organisations to track the effectiveness of benefits
- Entitledto is an independent organisation committed to ensuring people understand what they can receive from national and local government
- Turn2Us is a national charity who provide practical help to people who are struggling financially. Their benefits calculator takes less than 10 minutes to complete
- Age UK has a benefits calculator that is focused on the benefits older people may be eligible to receive
Support following a benefit claim
If you are waiting for the outcome of your benefit application, you may be able to request a hardship payment from your local job centre. Hardship payments are not always paid immediately and are not available to everyone. Hardship payments of Universal Credit need to be paid back (a loan), but hardship payments of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA) do not.
You can challenge a benefit decision if your benefit has been stopped, sanctioned, reduced or refused, or you have been overpaid. Most benefit decisions need to be challenged within one month.