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Income Support: Who can claim?

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The benefits system can be very confusing, especially if you have never claimed any kind of benefit previously, or if your home or working circumstances have changed and you need some additional support. Many families often find themselves seeking part time or low income jobs to fit around child care needs or due to the current economical climate, their income has been reduced for whatever reason.  If you work 16 hours a week or less and your partner works no more than 24 hours, if you are on a low income, don’t have savings of more than £16,000, are between the ages of 16 and state pension age and live in England, Scotland or Wales, then you may be entitled to Income Support.

Who is eligible to claim Income Support?

Income Support is also there to benefit people who aren’t available for work and therefore unable to claim Job Seekers Allowance. You will be classed as unavailable to work if you are a single parent under 18, a single parent with a child under five, you are looking after your partner who is temporarily sick or you are responsible for a child under 20 who is temporarily sick. If you are claiming Carer’s Allowance or are pregnant, you will also be classed as unavailable for work, and in some circumstances, you or your partner may be required to attend a compulsory interview as part of your claim. Even if you are employed but are off work and receiving statutory sick pay, paternity or maternity pay, you may also be entitled to Income Support.

Do you meet the criteria?

Your wage, your partners income and any savings over £5999 will affect the amount you receive, but providing you meet the criteria, you will be given a basic payment based on your circumstance; So for example, a single person age 16-24 or single parent age 16-17, could receive £56.80 per week, 25 and over or single parent over 18 would get £71.70, couples under 18 or where one is under 18 and the other under 24 would receive £56.80. If a couple has one under 18 and the other over 25 they would be entitled to £71.70 and for couple who are both 18 or over the amount would be £112.55 per week. There are other additional circumstances entitling you to an extra £15.15 to £119 per week such as if you are a single parent caring for a disabled child.  Claiming Income Support can also automatically entitle you to other benefits such a Housing Benefit or help with prescription costs.

Income support

There are situations when you will not quality for Income Support; for example, when you aren’t a British citizen and therefore need permission to enter the UK, if you are already receiving Job Seekers or Employment and Support Allowance, if you are on strike, homeless or if you are suspected of living with a partner and their circumstances rule you out from eligibility. (This applies to same sex couples as well as heterosexual couples). If you have capital totalling more than £16,000 you will also be unable to claim – Capital is classed as savings, property or land you may own, but do note; the home in which you live in and personal possessions are not included in this. If you fall into any of these categories or are unsure whether you will be entitled to claim Income Support, then feel free to talk to someone in your local Citizens Advice Bureau who will be happy to advise on your personal situation.

If you meet the criteria and have made a claim for Income Support, then once you have provided all the information required, a decision based on your circumstances will then be made and your benefit calculated. However, they may also decide that your case requires some further investigation and make an interim payment in the meantime, or they may decide you have no entitlement to Income Support at all.  If that happens and you still believe you are entitled or feel you have been discriminated against due to your race, religion, sexuality, gender or disability, you can make a complaint, ask for your case to be reconsidered or even appeal to an Independent Tribunal, although this must be done within one month of the decision being made.

If your claim is rejected you may be entitled to other benefits to suit your circumstances

If you have had your claim rejected, don’t be too disheartened. Even though you may not be eligible for Income Support, you may be entitled to other benefits such as Council Tax reduction, Housing Benefit or Child Tax credit for those with children. Everyone has such differing personal situations it can be very difficult navigating the maze that is the benefits system, so remember, there is always help available to enable you to make the most of your current situation.

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About Rebecca Robinson

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About Rebecca Robinson

After spending the last 8 years juggling life as a mum of two, wife and working full time as a Project Manager for a global telecommunications company, Rebecca Robinson made the decision to follow her love of writing and took the plunge; turning her passion into a full time career. Since becoming a full time writer, Rebecca has worked with various media and copy-writing companies and with the ability to make any topic relevant and interesting to the reader, now contributes to The Working Parent on articles ranging from credit cards to teenage relationships. Ever the optimist, Rebecca's dreams for the future include a house in the country filled with children, dogs and horses in the field!

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