Your guide to care and support

Claiming income-related benefits

If you think you may be entitled to an income-related benefit, such as Income Support, Housing Benefit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), or Pension Credit Guarantee Credit, you should make a claim as soon as possible.

You can call 0800 055 6688 (8am-6pm Monday to Friday) to start a claim for most benefits. If you have a speech or hearing impairment, a textphone service is available on 0800 023 4888.

Your basic details will be recorded and you’ll be called back to discuss your claim. This usually takes around 45 minutes and you may be sent a statement to sign, based on the information you've given.

If you have trouble using the phone, you can claim most benefits online via GOV.UK.

To avoid delays in your claim, make sure you have your National Insurance number. You may also be asked to prove your identity, your home address, income and savings, so your passport, household bills, wage slips and bank statements should also be to hand.

Couples: who should claim benefits?

If you're in a couple, you may have to think about which one of you should make the claim. You might need advice about which benefit is the best to claim, as you may be eligible for different ones.

Dealing with delays to your benefit claim

If your first payday has been reached and your claim has not yet been decided, you may be able to ask for an advance of benefit.

Advances are discretionary and can only be made to those who satisfy the conditions for an advance, including that the claimant or a member of their family is in financial need.

If your claim or payment is seriously delayed, you may want to make a complaint.

Changes in circumstances

The following scenarios are examples of when you may need to report a change in circumstances:

  • If you're admitted to hospital as an inpatient, your entitlement to income-related benefits continues, but you may have to report that you're in hospital if you get DLA, Attendance Allowance (AA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP). This is because payment of these should stop after 28 days in hospital. Any Severe Disability Premium you get should also stop at this point. For more information, read this Age UK leaflet on going into hospital (PDF, 2Mb).
  • If you go home for a few days, even just for a weekend, tell the relevant offices that deal with each of your benefits. This is because although benefits may be reduced or stop while you're in hospital, you're entitled to the full rate for any days that you spend at home. You may need to send confirmation from the hospital of the dates that you spend at home.
  • If you're a carer and you’re getting a carer premium on your benefit and the person you're looking after goes into hospital, your premium will stop eight weeks after their DLA, AA or PIP stops.
  • If you're a resident in a care home, your income-related benefit won't stop. However, your benefit will usually go towards paying your costs of staying in the home. You should be left with the "personal allowance" element of your benefit.
  • If you enter a care home on a permanent basis, your claim may be treated differently if you're part of a couple or you own your own home.
  • If you become a permanent care home resident, you will be treated as a single person for benefit purposes, so you and your partner will need to make separate claims as single people.

If you're a permanent care home resident, your house will be treated as capital, which may mean that you're no longer entitled to your income-related benefit. However, it will not be treated as capital if:

  • it's occupied by your current partner
  • it's occupied by a relative as their home, if that person is over 60 or "incapacitated" 
  • it's occupied by a former partner from whom you're estranged or divorced, if they're a lone parent
  • you're taking steps to sell the property; in this case, its value is ignored for 26 weeks (or for longer, if it's reasonable under the circumstances) – read about deferred payment agreements

You can claim income-related benefits if you're in part-time education.

Page last reviewed: 15/01/2015
Next review due: 15/01/2018