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What Benefits are available?

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This is some very basic information about benefits.  There are a lot of rules and conditions to most benefits.  You should always get independent advice about what benefits you may be entitled to, and help filling in the form, either from the Job and Benefits Office, Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB), or from another advice service. 

You may be entitled to several benefits at the same time. To find out in an interactive questionnaire, what type of benefits you can apply for, go to:

If your application for a benefit is turned down, or you think you're not getting as much money as you should, you can appeal, or have the decision reviewed.  Again, get advice on the best way to do this.

Income Support
Tops up your household's income to a level that the law says is enough for you to live on, depending on the ages and number of people in your family, and any special needs, like disability. It is a 'passport' to other benefits. You can get Income Support if you are incapable of work, and in certain other circumstances.

Incapacity Benefit
If you can't work because you're ill and you're not entitled to any sick pay.

Housing Benefit
To help you pay your rent, if you have low income and capital (such as savings).

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
For help with day-to-day living because of your illness or disability.

Attendance Allowance
Disability Living Allowance if you're over 65 when you start your claim.

Job-seeker's Allowance (JSA)
If you sign on as available for work, capable of work and actively seeking work.

Carers Allowance (CA)
If you're the carer of someone who gets Disability Living Allowance.

Permitted work and Incapacity from work
If you are claiming benefits due to being incapable of work it is still possible to do Permitted Work. There are strict rules governing how much you can earn and how long you can work for. Permitted Work can affect benefits some benefits.

State Retirement Pension
For women at 60 and men at 65.

Tax Credits

Child Tax Credit (CTC)

For low or middle-income families who have children.

Working Tax Credit (WTC)

For people on low or middle income in paid work. There are various conditions concerning hours work, health, disability and children. Can include payment towards child care costs.

Pension Credit (PC)

For people aged 60 or more. There are no restrictions on the hours you can work.

Volunteers and benefits
You can work as a volunteer without losing your Incapacity Benefit as long as you work on average 16 hours or less per week.  If you are signing on, then working as a volunteer can help show that you are actively seeking work.  But you still need to show the Job Centre that you are available for work.

Health benefits
You are entitled to free prescriptions, dental treatment and sight tests if you receive Income Support, Income-based Job-seeker's Allowance or, in some circumstances, Tax Credits.  You may be able to get similar health benefits in certain other circumstances too.

Your benefits while in hospital
Going into hospital usually means your benefits are reduced, sometimes quickly, sometimes over a longer period.

Fares to hospital
If you receive certain benefits, and go to hospital for treatment (either staying in hospital or as an out-patient) you can get the cost of the return trip to hospital paid for by the hospital.

Crisis Loan
For expenses in an emergency, but not if you're in hospital or residential care, unless you're about to be discharged.  You have to show that without it there is no way of preventing serious damage or risk to health or safety. This loan must be repaid.