Claiming benefits requires essential documents to support your claim. This is the reason why we aim to learn through this blog post whether EEA family members can claim benefits or not. We will also explore the benefits they can claim and how. Additionally, we will discuss the impact of the “right to reside” on benefit claims and the options available to those who cannot provide evidence of their right to reside status.

Can EEA Family Members Claim Benefits?

Yes, EEA nationals and their family members can claim benefits in the UK. Not only this, but they can also gain access to assistance for homelessness; as well as the right to social housing. 

However, it is essential that for their family members to claim welfare benefits, the EEA national should have lived in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man for at least three months before making the claim.

It is important to note here that as per the Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2016, the definition of family members is limited to the following relatives:

  • Spouse or civil partner
  • A child of the EEA national or their spouse/civil partner who is younger than 21 years 
  • A dependent child of the EEA national or their spouse/civil partner who is 21 years of age or older 
  • Dependent relatives of the EEA national in an ascending line such as a parent or grandparent of the EEA national or their spouse/civil partner

However, the claim to benefits will not take place automatically. EEA nationals and their family members will have to qualify for each benefit that they apply for by meeting their eligibility criteria. This means that while some family members of EEA nationals will qualify for certain benefits in the UK, they may not qualify for some.

Additionally, the EEA national will have to be classified as a “qualified person” for their family members to claim benefits. To do that, they must fulfil either of the below-mentioned roles:

  • Jobseeker actively in search of and preparing for work
  • Worker (this includes someone who has recently stopped working)
  • Self-employed person (this includes someone who is formerly self-employed)
  • Self-sufficient person
  • Student

If you have a disability, a health condition (mental or physical) or an illness that prevents you from performing everyday tasks, you can claim Personal Independence Payment. To claim the benefit under a pre-settled status you will also need to prove that you are habitually resident in the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. Additionally, you should have lived in England, Scotland or Wales for at least 2 out of the previous 3 years.

If the family members of an EEA national are unable to claim welfare benefits or support for homelessness due to the absence of a “right to reside”, their case will be undertaken as per section 17 of the Children Act 1989 and will be subject to a human rights assessment.

What Benefits Can EEA Family Members Claim In The UK?

Depending on the eligibility criteria that they meet, their circumstances and the evidence that family members of EEA nationals may be able to provide, they may be able to claim the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment Support Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Pension Credit
  • Personal Independence Payments
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance

However, applicants will need to be mindful of the following factors while making their benefits claim:

  • If an EEA family member had the initial right of residence for three months, they can only claim Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit
  • If an EEA jobseeker or their family member has the “right to reside”, they can claim income-based JSA, Universal Credit, Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit
  • EEA workers and their family members who have retained worker status or self-employed status as well as the “right to reside” can claim most of the welfare that they qualify for and also be eligible to apply for social housing in England
  • The same rule applies to family members of self-sufficient persons, students or EEA nationals with a permanent right to reside

Does The Right To Reside Affect Your Benefits Claim?

Yes, the right to reside status of an EEA national will affect the benefits that they or their family members can claim.

If someone does not have a right to reside but does have a pre-settled status, they can apply for the following benefits:

  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance

Meanwhile, if someone has a pre-settled status and a right to reside, they can also apply for other benefits including these:

  • Universal Credit
  • Pension Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Benefit or Child Tax Credits
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance

To satisfy the requirements for a “right to reside”, one would need to prove that they are living in the UK under a worker status; whilst earning a wage of £166 per week for at least three months. Otherwise, they should have a family member living and working in the UK or they must be looking for a job. 

How Can You Claim Benefits If You Can’t Prove Your Right To Reside? 

If a claimant finds it difficult to prove their right to reside (perhaps due to lack of payslips or misplaced documents), there are alternate ways for them to provide evidence of their status to claim benefits. Some of the suggestions include the following:

  • The claimant can make a subject access request to the HMRC asking them for details regarding their place(s) of work. Alternatively, they can ask their employer (or former employer) to write a letter of recommendation stating the details of their employment, tenure and remuneration.
  • They can also get information from the HMRC regarding tax payments and National Insurance contributions.
  • The claimant can inform the DWP about the lack of documents to support their claim. The DWP can inquire about these details from the HMRC directly.
  • If someone does not have payslips or employment contracts to prove their working status, or they have been working for cash in hand or through a bank account, they can share their bank statement as evidence of earnings.

If you are unable to prove your right to reside due to a lack of appropriate documents, you (or your family members) will have to pass the habitual residence test for benefits.

Conclusion:

The above discussion has helped to clarify that EEA family members can claim benefits as long they meet the pre-determined criteria. However, this does not happen automatically as claimants will need to provide evidence of their right to reside in the UK and meet the eligibility criteria for each benefit they intend to claim.

FAQs: Can EEA Family Members Claim Benefits?

Can someone with pre-settled status claim benefits?

Yes, someone with pre-settled status can claim benefits such as Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, and Carer’s Allowance. However, if someone has the right to reside as well, they can claim means-tested benefits as well.

Can EEA nationals claim Housing Benefit?

No, EEA nationals cannot claim Housing Benefit. However, under certain conditions, they can claim Universal Credit.

How long do you have to live in the UK before you can claim benefits?

You should have lived in the UK for at least 5 years to claim benefits. In some cases, you will need to have the right to reside while in others you may have to meet additional conditions to qualify.

Can EU migrants claim benefits in the UK?

Not all EU migrants can claim benefits in the UK. you would need to be a migrant with a right to reside in the UK to be able to claim benefits such as Income Support or income-related Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA).

Who claims the most benefits in the UK?

According to research posted on the UK Government’s website, 51% of benefits claims in 2021 were for Child Benefit or State Pension.

References:

EEA nationals and family members

EEA nationals and family members | NRPF

Check if you have the right to reside for benefits – Citizens Advice