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How to Claim Social Security Benefits in the UK

The UK is known all around the world for its welfare system. It was one of the first countries to form the modern welfare state immediately after the Second World War, under Clement Attlee’s Labour government. Today, the welfare state remains generous, but it also remains strict. You do need to apply for social security benefits in the right way.                                        

In this article, we’re going to skim over the basics of how you can go about claiming social security benefits in the UK.

For the purposes of this guide, we’re going to assume you’re a UK national because applying as a foreign national is far more complicated and requires a number of checks and interviews. In every circumstance, immigrants will have to wait until they have left the immigration control system before they can claim social security.

What Can You Claim?

There’s no such thing as social security. It’s not something that’s all lumped into one. There are so many different types of benefits you can potentially claim. You can claim when you’re unemployed, when you’re ill, and when you have children. It also depends on your age. For example, if you’re over the age of 65 you would get a basic state pension direct from the government.

Speak to an expert of the Citizen’s Advice Bureau for in-depth information specific to you on what you can claim from the government.

Take note, the UK is in the middle of migrating to a system where all benefits will be lumped together and paid under what’s known as ‘Universal Credit’.

How to Claim Social Security Support

There are a number of ways in which you can claim social security support. The vast majority of people claim by telephone. You should call the number for your local Social Security of Jobs & Benefits office. You can usually find the number online or in a phonebook for your specific area. You will speak to an advisor who will assess your current circumstances and determine whether you’re eligible.

You can also claim in writing. This is a far more complex and time-consuming process because you’ll have to fill in a number of detailed claims forms. We don’t recommend this option unless you have no other choice, especially if you have no experience with claiming benefits.

If you’re living rough or you’re unable to contact the correct people alone, you can get someone to do it on your behalf. They will need all the required information from you and you may need to send proof of your identity; however, this is on a case-by-case basis and you’ll only find out what you need to do by calling.

Paying Benefits

Anyone who claims benefits must have a valid UK bank account. All social security is paid directly into your account on a dedicated day. If you don’t yet have a bank account, you’ll need to open one with a high street bank before you can begin the claims process.

Changing Circumstances

How much you get from the state depends heavily on your circumstances. Should your life circumstances change you must notify the state of what’s happened. For example, if you’ve changed your address you will need to update them. Another situation where you may have to notify them is if you get married or have children who’re dependent on you.

Overall, claiming benefits can be a complex process, but by calling or writing you will gain access to someone who can specify exactly what you can claim and how much you can claim. They will walk you through the process and show you what the government needs before they can begin to pay you.

Image source iStock


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