Career Testing
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Career Testing
SALARIES / DEC. 05, 2014
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How to Take Advantage of the Income Support Scheme in the UK

The Income Support program was designed to help people who are in need of additional funds in order to maintain a normal standard of living. Individuals in the UK can receive benefits that will assist with living costs such as rent, mortgages, taxes and prescription costs. This article will address the process of taking advantage of the income support benefits, who is eligible and other factors involved.

How the Program Works

The income scheme utilizes a “means-tested” system whereby applicants’ income is considered before any decisions are made on how much benefits are given. Simply because you have a limited income does not necessarily mean you are eligible for benefits. According to AdviceGuide.org.uk, the applicant’s income needs to be below a certain level and the individual “must be one of a group of people who can get benefits without having to look for work.”

Additionally, this program is a “non-contributory” benefit. Basically, it is not dependent upon national insurance contributions. Individuals are eligible to receive income support even if they have never paid for national insurance. However, in order to make a claim, they will need a national insurance number. Individuals who are eligible for income support are automatically eligible to receive the housing benefit as well as health costs. There is also the possibility of receiving assistance with your council tax.

Age Eligibility Requirements

Applicants need to be over the age of 18. Individuals who are over the state pension age are not eligible for income support benefits. However, they can claim the pension credit instead. To ascertain more details on your state pension age, you can use the state pension calculator.

If applicants are aged 16 – 17 and are pregnant, have a child or are attending a training course, they are eligible for income support. Additionally, eligibility for income support depends on whether or not applicants are still in school and also living with their parents. Teen parents are generally permitted to receive income support. Individuals who are in this age group and situation can find more advice on claiming benefits.  

Residency Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to claim income support, applicants need to reside in the UK. Recent immigrants to the UK generally cannot claim benefits. It depends on their immigration status. For individuals who need assistance in ascertaining their eligibility requirements, they can seek out the advice of a Citizens Advice Bureau at their website.

Working Status Eligibility Requirements

In order to be eligible to receive income support benefits, applicants must be unemployed or working less than 16 hours a week. For those who have a partner residing with them, that person needs to be working less than 24 hours each week. Those with a partner working more than 24 hours a week are not eligible for benefits. Additionally, if your partner receives income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment & Support Allowance, you will not be eligible to get income support benefits. Another factor is that applicants may be able to receive income support if they are off from work due to sickness and are receiving Statutory Sick Pay from their employer.

Income & Financial Eligibility Requirements

There are specific guidelines set into place which dictate eligibility requirements for the amount of income an applicant can have and still receive benefits. You can read more about the specifics at the AdviceGuide.org.uk website. During the approval process, some individuals may need to appear for a compulsory interview in order to claim benefits. If you are called into an interview and have a partner who is not working, he or she will also need to be interviewed.

Factors Regarding Amount of Benefits

1. Personal Capital

Individuals who have more than £16,000 in capital are not eligible to receive income support benefits. Capital is considered items like savings and land owned. However, personal possessions and the home that an applicant resides in, is generally not considered as personal capital. If you have income over £6,000 that will affect how many benefits you will receive. Basically, you will receive £1 each week for every £250 in capital that is above the £6,000 limit.

2. Personal Income & Cost of Living

Income is the amount of money an individual earns each week. This income can come from earnings at full-time or part-time work in addition to other income capital and various benefits. The amount of income you have and the expenses you have each month are considered when you apply for income support benefits. You can check out the Gov.UK and Northern Ireland Gov. websites to ascertain the amount of income support that you may be eligible for.  

3. Personal Allowance

Personal allowances are based upon the applicant’s age, whether or not they have a partner who resides with them and if they are a single parent.

4. Premiums

For applicants who have a higher cost of living, premiums are added to their applicable amount of benefits. Some of the factors entitling them to a premium are that they have a partner who is over the state pension age, they or their partner are disabled or they are caring for a sick or disabled individual.

5. Housing Costs

In addition to the applicable amount of benefits, certain circumstances dictate that an applicant may receive housing costs which could assist with mortgage interest. Assistance will not be provided for applicants to pay toward the capital part of the mortgage payment. Housing assistance is usually paid several weeks after income support begins. However, if your partner is over the state pension age, the housing assistance will be received sooner.

Claiming Income Support

Applicants in England, Scotland and Wales can apply to claim income support benefits via phone, textphone or completing an application form. The phone line is 0800 055 6688. The textphone line is 0800 023 4888 and the Welsh language line is 0800 012 1888. Office phone lines are open to applicants from 8 am – 6 pm Monday through Friday. You can download a UK application form.

The Northern Ireland website for downloading an application is NiDirect.gov.uk. The application cannot be filed online, but can be downloaded. Applicants can also contact the claim office via telephone or via mail by writing to the local Jobs & Benefits Office or Social Security Office.

Claiming income support benefits is a simple process if you follow the regulations as outlined in this article and seek assistance from the benefits office as needed.  

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