Disability and sickness benefits – check your entitlements

If you’ve recently become sick or disabled you may be trying to get to grips with the benefits system for the first time. Read our guide to the benefits and entitlements you might be able to claim.

Not all benefits are means tested

Some benefits help you with the extra care needs you have because you’re disabled or have a long-term or terminal health condition.

These benefits are not means tested. In other words they are not affected by your income and savings. They include:

  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Attendance Allowance

Benefits that are means-tested are those that are designed to:

  • replace earnings – for example Employment and Support Allowance
  • top up your income – for example tax credits
  • help you with essential costs – for example Housing Benefit

Employment and Support Allowance

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is paid if you can’t work or only work a few hours a week because of sickness or disability.

You may be able to get ESA if your Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) has run out or you can’t claim SSP. For example, because you’re:

  • self-employed
  • unemployed
  • earn less than the National Insurance contribution threshold (£112 a week in 2015/16)
Find out if you can claim ESA on GOV.UK.
Find out more about permitted work you can do when claiming ESA on the Disability Rights UK website.

Personal Independence Payment

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is paid if you find it difficult to carry out daily tasks or get about. It is not means tested.

To qualify for it you must:

  • be aged between 16 and 64
  • have had these difficulties for three months and expect them to last for at least another nine months

PIP is replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for adults.

Disability Living Allowance

You can only make a new claim for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children under 16.

For adults DLA is being replaced by PIP.

Find out more about DLA for children on GOV.UK.
Find out more about existing DLA claims for adults on GOV.UK.
Find out more about claiming DLA in Northern Ireland on the nidirect website.

Attendance Allowance

You might qualify for Attendance Allowance if

  • you’re aged 65 or over and have not previously claimed DLA/PIP
  • you need help with personal care
  • you need supervision to keep you safe
Read more about Attendance Allowance in our guide Benefits you can claim when you have care needs.

Help with housing costs

If you’re renting

If you’re renting a property and you’re on a low income you could get help with Housing Benefit to pay your rent.

You may get this help even if you’re working. It’s paid by your local council.

Find out more about Housing Benefit on GOV.UK.

If you’re a home owner

You might get help towards interest payments on your mortgage. This is called Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI).

You can claim it:

  • if you’re getting Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit
  • to also help pay the interest on loans for repairs or adaptations that make your home more suitable for your needs

SMI is paid directly to the lender 39 weeks after you first apply for this benefit. If you’re on income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, you can only get SMI for up to two years

Under government proposals, from April 2018 SMI will be paid as a loan which you will have to pay back either when you sell your house, or voluntarily when you are able to (for example when you return to work).

Help with Council Tax

Each local council has their own Council Tax Reduction scheme, so the help you get depends on where you live.

Other benefits you may be entitled to

Working Tax Credit

You should be able to claim Working Tax Credit if you have a disability and:

  • you usually work 16 hours or more a week
  • you’re single and you earn £13,100 or less a year (approximately)
  • you’re in a couple and your household income is £18,000 or less a year

You may also qualify for an extra payment called the Disabled worker element.

Read our guide Working Tax Credits.
Find out more about extra tax credits because of disability on the Disability Rights UK website.

Child Tax Credit

You should be able to claim Child Tax Credit if:

  • you have at least one child and your household income is £26,000 or less a year
  • you have two children and your household income is £32,000 or less a year

There are other limits if you have more than two children.

Changes to claiming Child Tax Credit will start in April 2017.

Find out more in our guide Child Tax Credits.

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

If your disability or illness was caused at work you may be able to claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB).

You must have been working for an employer or taking part in approved training. You won’t be able to claim it if you were self-employed.

The amount you can get depends on how severely your condition affects you.

Reduced Earnings Allowance

If you have an injury or illness caused by work that started before 1 October 1990 and can’t earn as much money now because of your condition, you may be able to claim Reduced Earnings Allowance.

You may also be able to claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.

Find out more about Reduced Earnings Allowance.

State Pension and Pension Credit

If you’ve reached State Pension age you will be able to claim the State Pension.

If you’re on a low income you may be able to top it up with Pension Credit.

Read our guides State Pension and Pension Credit.

Benefits for carers

If a friend or family member cares for you there is also support available for them.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit will eventually replace some benefits. These include:

  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Tax Credits

You’ll be told whether this affects you when you make your claim.

Get free help and advice about your entitlements

There is plenty of free help available if you’re unsure about what benefits you are entitled to or need help with making a claim.

If you claim benefits you must explain your condition. Otherwise you might not get all the help you’re entitled to.

Use the benefits checker tool on the Turn2us website.

Appoint someone to deal with your benefit claim for you

If you can’t manage your benefits yourself, an individual or organisation can do this on your behalf. This is called being an appointee. They become responsible for dealing with your Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) benefits.

If you have a learning disability, you can ask Dosh Financial Advocacyopens in new window to help you with your benefits as your advocate and appointee. They are a non-profit organisation, and also offer a series of fact sheets for family carers on managing money.

Did you find this guide helpful?