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How much Income Support?

How much Income Support you will get depends on the weekly amount the government thinks you need to live on. This is known as your "applicable amount".

The applicable amount varies for each person because it's made up of different elements, which depend on your circumstances. First, there's an amount called the "personal allowance". This has different rates depending on your age and whether you're a single person or part of a couple.

As well as personal allowance, some people are allowed extra amounts called "premiums". These are paid if you have a disability or you're a carer or an older person.

Some housing costs for your mortgage or home loan interest can also be added to your personal allowance and any premiums you're entitled to. Added together, these amounts make up your applicable amount. You can get more information about personal allowances, premiums and housing costs by clicking on the bars below.

Capital

Capital is made up of your savings and any property that you own, except the home that you live in. You can't get Income Support if you have capital above £16,000. If you have capital between £6,000 and £16,000, you may get some Income Support, but it may be reduced. You can get more information about what sort of savings and property are counted as capital in the Capital and income section below.

Income

Next, you need to work out how much income you have. Income can include other benefits, earnings from part-time work or income from capital. Some income is "disregarded", which means it's ignored. You can find out more about how your income is calculated in Capital and income (see below).

The amount of Income Support you get

The amount of Income Support you will be paid is the difference between your applicable amount and your income. In other words, Income Support tops up your income to the level the government thinks you will need to live on.

You will only be entitled to Income Support if your income is less than your applicable amount. If you have no income, or all your income is disregarded, you will get Income Support at the level of your applicable amount.

Otherwise, your Income Support level will be your applicable amount minus your income. This means that any extra income you receive each week, if it's taken into account for Income Support, will reduce the amount of Income Support you're paid.

Some of the examples in the pages below may help you understand how much Income Support you might receive.

The government's official online source of information on benefits is GOV.UK.

Click on the bars below for more information on the Income Support rules.

Personal allowance

The value of  your personal allowance is the starting point for calculating Income Support. You get one personal allowance, which is based on your age and whether or not you have a partner.

The current personal allowances are:

  • single person under 25: £56.80
  • single person aged 25 or older: £71.70
  • couple both under 18 (or one under 18 and one under 25): £56.80
  • higher rate if you have a child: £85.80
  • couple one under 18 and one 25 or older: £71.70
  • couple both 18 or older: £112.55
  • lone parent under 18: £56.80
  • lone parent 18 or older: £71.70

If your children are counted in your claim

If you're claiming Income Support now, you can no longer claim any Income Support for your children. Instead, since April 2003, you should claim Child Tax Credit. There are some people who have been claiming Income Support since before April 2003 who do have amounts for their child or children included in their Income Support. In these cases, there's a personal allowance of £64.99 per child, and there are also premiums for children that can be added.

Your personal allowance might not be the full amount that the law says you need to live on. You can add any premiums and mortgage help that apply to you. The total amount is your applicable amount. See the Income section below for more information on how Income Support is worked out.

Premiums

Premiums are extra amounts for special needs, such as those caused by disability or if you're a carer. If you add together your personal allowance, any premiums you qualify for and any mortgage help you qualify for, this will give you your applicable amount, which is the amount that the law says you need to live on.

Disability premium

A disability premium (currently paid at £31.00 for a single person and £44.20 for a couple) can be added if:

  • You or your partner receive Disability Living Allowance at any rate, or you're paid other benefits such as Severe Disablement Allowance, War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement, Constant Attendance Allowance under the Industrial Injuries Benefits scheme, or the disability or severe disability element of Working Tax Credit.
  • You or your partner are registered blind (you still qualify for the disability premium for 28 weeks if you regain your sight and come off the register).
  • You've been incapable of work (under Incapacity Benefit rules) for more than one year, and continue to be incapable of work, and you claimed Income Support before October 27 2008.
  • You're on the long-term rate of Incapacity Benefit.
  • You're on the special short-term rate of Incapacity Benefit because you have a terminal illness.
  • You have been incapable of work and on statutory sick pay for 196 days, and you're terminally ill.

The person who qualifies for the disability premium must be under the qualifying age for the guarantee credit part of Pension Credit (see About Pension Credit for details).

For couples, a couple rate of disability premium will be paid even if only one of you qualifies. If you're claiming because you have been incapable of work for a year, the claimant must be the disabled person, otherwise a disability premium will not be paid. You may need to discuss which of you should claim. It's possible to change who is the claimant (see the Who should claim section on Income Support claims).

Severe disability premium

A severe disability premium (currently paid at £59.50 for a single person and £119.00 for a couple) is added for people who are receiving certain disability benefits and who meet other conditions. You will qualify if you receive the middle or highest rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), or you receive Attendance Allowance (AA) at either rate, and you live alone and no one is paid Carer’s Allowance for looking after you.

Some adults you live with can be ignored for benefit purposes. These include anyone who's registered blind or who receives the middle or highest rate of the care component of DLA, or who receives AA at any rate. If someone pays you rent (a tenant or lodger) for living in your home, they're not counted, but any rent you receive affects your benefit (see Capital and income).

You're counted as not living alone if you have a 'non-dependant' living with you. This is someone who lives in your home but is not part of your benefit claim and is not a commercial tenant or lodger, for example, a grown-up son or daughter.

It's possible for you to have a carer, but if they claim and are paid Carer’s Allowance, you will not be able to add the severe disability premium to your Income Support. If the person only has an 'underlying entitlement' to Carer’s Allowance because they receive an overlapping benefit, then this doesn't affect your right to the severe disability premium. For more information about overlapping benefits, see Benefits if unable to work. Also, any backdated award of Carer’s Allowance to your carer doesn't affect your right to the severe disability premium.

Single or couple rate

Severe disability premium is payable at the single rate if you both receive the middle or highest rate of the care component of DLA, or AA at either rate, but one of you has a carer who receives Carer’s Allowance. It's also payable at the single rate if one of you receives the middle or highest rate care component of DLA, or AA at either rate, and the other is registered blind.

Severe disability premium is payable at the couple rate if both of you receive the middle or highest rate of the care component of DLA, or AA at either rate, and nobody is paid Carer’s Allowance for looking after you. In all these cases, you will not be entitled to the premium if you have a non-dependant (such as a grown-up son or daughter) living with you and your partner. If someone pays you rent (a tenant or lodger) for living in your home, they're not counted, but any rent you receive affects your benefit.

Enhanced disability premium

The enhanced disability premium (currently paid at £15.15 for a single person and £21.75 for a couple) can be added to the other premiums if you (or your partner) are under 60 and getting Disability Living Allowance at the highest rate for care needs. A couple rate will be paid even if only one of you qualifies.

Carer premium

A carer premium of £33.30 can be added if you receive Carer’s Allowance for looking after a disabled person. It's possible to get this premium if you care for your disabled partner. It's also possible for both members of a couple to receive a carer premium, if they meet the rules. You could even be each other’s carer.

Occasionally, it may be worth you claiming Carer’s Allowance even though you receive another benefit that means you don't get any money for being a carer, because the two benefits overlap. This is because, although Carer’s Allowance will not be payable, the claim will show that you're a carer, and you will be able to get the carer premium in Income Support.

Pensioner premium

The pensioner premium (only for couples, currently paid at £109.50) is paid if you're under 60 but your partner is over 60 and you have chosen to claim Income Support instead of your partner claiming Pension Credit. Get advice if you wish to do this, as it may be better for your partner to claim Pension Credit instead.

If your children are counted in your claim

If your Income Support claim started before April 2003 and you're still claiming, your Income Support may still include premiums for your children. These can't be paid at the same time as Child Tax Credit.

For family premium of £17.40, only one premium is payable even if you have more than one child.

The disabled child premium is currently paid at £57.89 for each child who gets Disability Living Allowance at any rate, or for a child who is registered blind.

There's a child rate of the enhanced disability premium, paid at £23.45, if the child gets the care component of Disability Living Allowance at the highest rate.

The disabled child premium and the child rate of the enhanced disability premium aren't paid if the child has more than £3,000 in savings.

Capital and income

When the amount of Income Support you can receive is assessed, your income and capital will be taken into account.

You will need to give details of all your income and capital when you claim. Not all of it will count for Income Support, but you should still show all the details.

Capital

This includes most things that you have saved up, such as money in the bank or building society, premium bonds, unit trusts, investments or stocks and shares. If you own property, the value of this may count. However, the house you live in, even if you own it, doesn't count.

If you've sold your home and you're going to buy another one, the sum you set aside for this will not count for six months.

If you've suffered personal injury and your compensation is in a trust, this may not count as capital.

The rules about what counts as capital can be complicated, so you may wish to get further advice.

The amount of savings you have will affect the amount of Income Support payable to you. If you're part of a couple, your joint savings are taken into account.

If you have less than £6,000 (or £10,000 if you are permanently in residential or nursing care), there's no effect on your claim.

If you have more than £16,000, you can't claim Income Support.

If you have between £6,000 and £16,000 it will be assumed that you earn income from your savings, even if you don't actually get any. This is called a 'tariff income'. Tariff income assumes that you earn £1 a week for every £250 or part of £250 that you have over £6,000.

So if you have £8,825 in savings, for example, the first £6,000 is ignored, but £2,825 will affect your claim. You can work out the tariff income by dividing £2,825 by £250 (which equals 11.3). This would mean a tariff income rounded up to £12 per week because you're over the £6,000 limit by 11 blocks of £250, plus one part of £250.

Tariff income has to be added to your other income to help decide if you're entitled to Income Support.  

Don't be tempted to get rid of money in order to get below the £6,000 or £16,000 savings limits. In such a situation, unless you have a good reason for spending the money, you may be treated as still having it, and you may still be refused benefit or receive reduced benefit. Get advice if you need to spend a lump sum of your savings.

Income

Income is the money you and your partner (if applicable) get from part-time work, benefits or other sources. Any income you receive from your savings will not count because of the tariff income system described above.

Income from benefits

Most benefits and pensions that you receive will fully count as income. However, some benefits are either completely or partly ignored. This is called a disregarded benefit. Benefits that are completely disregarded are:

Child Benefit counts as income only if children are included in the Income Support claim. Even in these cases, £10.50 per week is ignored if you have a child under one year old.

Benefits that have £10 disregarded are:

  • Widowed Mother’s Allowance
  • Widowed Parent’s Allowance
  • War Disablement Pension and certain other payments for disability or death in the armed forces
  • Pensions paid to victims of Nazi persecution

Child maintenance also counts as income, but with £20 disregarded.

Charitable payments and other payments

Payments from some charitable trusts, for example those that pay money to victims of medical accidents, are ignored. These include:

  • The Macfarlane Trust
  • The Eileen Trust
  • The Skipton Fund
  • Independent Living Funds
  • London Bombings Fund

Other regular charitable or voluntary payments are also ignored as income.

A charitable payment is one that's made under a charitable trust at the discretion of the trustees. A voluntary payment is defined as one that's given without getting anything back in return.

Irregular charitable or voluntary payments are treated as capital, and so will only affect your benefit if the payment takes your capital above the £16,000 limit.

Income from tenants and lodgers

If someone rents a room from you but you don't provide food for them £20 of this rent is ignored and the rest counts as income. If you rent a room out and provide food (known as 'board'), the first £20 of this rent is ignored, and half of the remainder will be counted as income.

Income support for housing costs

Income Support can help you to pay your mortgage and similar housing costs. It can't help with rent. For help with rent, see Housing Benefit.

Income support can help with:

  • interest on your main mortgage
  • interest on loans for improvements, repairs (only those approved by Jobcentre Plus) and some service charges
  • ground rent or other rent payable under a long lease of more than 21 years

Help is only given on mortgage interest. If you're repaying capital on your mortgage or you have to pay an endowment insurance policy, you will not get help with these. You may also not be paid the interest rate that your lender is charging. The interest rate payable by Income Support is set by law.

Help with housing costs is not usually available immediately. You will have to wait 13 weeks for mortgage help to be added to your claim.

Help is also limited to the interest on the first £200,000 of your mortgage. If mortgage help is included in your Income Support, it will usually be paid straight to your mortgage lender, so it will not be included in the money that's paid directly to you.

You may also have your mortgage help reduced if you have a 'non-dependant' living in your home. This is someone who lives in your home but isn't part of your benefit claim and isn't a commercial tenant or lodger, such as a grown-up son or daughter. If a non-dependant lives with you, your mortgage help could be reduced by between £9.40 and £60.60 per week, depending on their age and how much they earn.

This reduction in mortgage help will not apply if you or your partner get the care component of Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance. It will also not apply if the non-dependant who lives in your home is under the age of 25 and gets Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit.

Because of the limits on mortgage help, you will often find that it doesn't cover your full monthly mortgage payment. Therefore, you will either have to find the extra money yourself, or get advice if you're struggling to pay.

If you move from Income Support to work and you've been on benefit for more than 26 weeks, tell Jobcentre Plus, because the help you get with your mortgage will carry on for a further four weeks.

How it affects Income Support

Add together your personal allowance, premiums and mortgage help. This is what the law says you need to live on and is called your 'applicable amount'. This is not necessarily what you will be paid because your income and savings also have to be taken into account.

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Page last reviewed: 19/08/2013

Next review due: 19/08/2015

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