This blog has looks at the benefits that one can receive when one is in self-isolation due to COVID. It addresses the changes and additions made to standard benefit schemes to act on the unique needs of the pandemic situation.
It also looks at pandemic specific benefits that are offered and their conditionalities. It also answers some key queries pertaining to these benefits in accordance with specific circumstances and needs.
Can I claim any benefits if I have to self-isolate?
Yes, there are a few benefits you can claim specifically in a situation of self-isolation due to COVID-19. There are some conditions that you must fulfill and some requirements that need to be met.
You are also eligible to claim benefits if you have been in contact with or are caring for someone who has COVID-19 and as a consequence you have to self-isolate.
This blog will first list the general benefits you can claim in general, but which have been tweaked to take into consideration COVID-19 and any self-isolation situation.
Eligibility and receipt of these standard benefits also become necessary for claiming COVID isolation benefits. This will be a short summation of the benefits. Then the specific benefits pertaining to self-isolation will be detailed.
Finally, the overall structure and benefits of Universal Credit in the context of COVID-19 and resultant self-isolation will be explained.
These benefits can be claimed when you can’t work as a consequence of self-isolation whether you were employed by someone or self-employed.
You are eligible whether you were sick,symptomatic,asymptomatic, in contact with a COVID positive person, or caring for a COVID positive person.
General Benefits, with concessions for those self-isolating
If you have been receiving housing benefit or the housing allowance component of Universal Credit, you will continue to receive these payments.
To know whether the pandemic itself constitutes a change of circumstance and whether you have to shift from the Housing Benefit regime to the Universal Credit regime, you can enquire with the Department of Work and Pension (DWP).
Housing allowances contribute towards the rent and service charges in case of tenancy and maintenance and upkeep in case of ownership. In addition to housing benefits there are special concessions and benefits granted to people during the COVID pandemic.
If a person falls sick or is isolated during the pandemic and cannot work or have financial difficulties, then they cannot be evicted for failing to pay rent in the case of social housing tenants.
For private tenants, if your existing housing benefits/allowances are not sufficient to pay the rent or any charges like maintenance you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment during this period, including one of self-isolation.
New-style Job-seeker’s Allowance (JSA)
You will continue to receive job-seekers allowance if you were unemployed before the pandemic and you can apply for it if you have been laid off, or have been sick and left work or self-isolation caused a job loss.
You just need to have sufficient National insurance contributions/credits for the past 2-3 years and have been an employee at some point during the same period.
If you do not qualify, you can apply for the unemployment or hob allowance component of Universal Credit.
New-Style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
ESA is usually granted to people with disabilities or health conditions that prevent them from working to full capacity or limit their employability completely.
But with the pandemic, the ESA has been extended to all those who have had to leave their jobs or who have been laid-off as a consequence of the following circumstances:
- If they themselves are sick, symptomatic and have tested positive for COVID 19 or you are recuperating
- If they have an existing health condition which could be aggravated by COVID or could even result in serious debilitating or death and thus requires immense care and self-isolation
- They are scheduled for a medical procedure within two weeks
- If they have come into contact with or are living with a COVID-19 patient
- If they are taking care of children who have symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19 and are isolating with them
All three situations will warrant the receipt of a new-style ESA.
Statutory Sick Pay
If you are down with COVID and you cannot work for a certain period or you are caring for someone with COVID and self-isolating in either case, you can claim Statutory Sick Pay from your employer.
Your employer must pay you for each day that you can’t attend work due to COVID self-isolation. If you have to leave your job and you cannot claim SSP you could try to claim a new-style ESA instead if you meet the requirements.
Benefits specific to COVID and self-isolation
Test and Trace Support Payment
The National Health Service (NHS) may receive information through its Test and Trace service or the COVID-19 app on your status.
It could mandate that you self-isolate because you have tested positive for COVID-19 or you have come in contact with a COVID positive person, or you are taking care of a child or a caregiver for a family member who has tested positive.
In such cases when the request to self-isolate comes from the NHS via its office or COVID app, you will be able to claim the Test and Trace Support Payment of 500 pounds.
If you are not contacted by the NHS and you decide to self-isolate of your own volition when you test positive, you can also claim this benefit.
It is available if you cease work temporarily because of this self-isolation and receive a lower or no income during this period. In the event that you do not receive this support payment there are other avenues as well.
If the same conditions as the Test and Trace self-isolation hold, but you are ineligible for the payment from the NHS, you can still claim an equivalent amount from you local council i.e. 500 pounds under the Self-Isolation Payment.
This can be if you or child test positive and have to self-isolate, if you are on a low income or are receiving no income as a consequence of not working due to self-isolation, or if the NHS orders you to self-isolate.
You are eligible to receive this whether you are unable to go to work because of self-isolation or even if you are self-isolating at home, but cannot work because you or your child are sick.
For more information you can refer to – Coronavirus – getting benefits if you’re self-isolating – Citizens Advice.
For both these benefits you must be receiving one or more of the Saturday’s benefits such as Universal Credit, Housing Benefit, Tax Credits, or other legacy benefits such as Income Support.
These benefits can be claimed together with other standard benefits and benefits like SSOP, ESA, Universal Credit etc.
Understanding Universal Credit separately in the light of COVID is necessary because it encompasses so many benefits and has a set of conditions of its own. So it is helpful to consider it in detail.
First off, you can claim Universal Credit alongside all the other benefits you are receiving due to COVID. These could be benefits because of illness, low or zero income, housing benefits etc.
Not to mention these benefits give you access to COVID specific benefits as well.
You will continue to receive Universal Credit and all the relevant components of housing, unemployment etc., if you are eligible for the same during self-isolation , especially if you are on a low income or you have had to leave your job.
Just as with all the other benefits you will need to tell the local council or the DWP about your changed circumstances if you have lost a job or you are working fewer hours.
In accordance the Universal Credit payment will be adjusted to assist you if you are in a financial bind. You will get additional payments on Universal Credit if you have extra responsibilities like children, other illnesses that require treatment etc.
In order to claim Universal Credit you have to fulfill some basic requirement other than your income and self-isolation status. In the context of the pandemic, an additional requirement has been placed on a claimant.
You have to provide proof that you are on a low income or of a job.
And in addition, you have to give evidence in accordance with the Claimant Commitment, to the local work coach or your local job center that you are actively searching for employment.
Without this active search your claim is void and you will not receive this benefit.
This blog has looked at the benefits that one can receive when one is in self-isolation due to COVID. It addressed the changes and additions made to standard benefit schemes to cater to the unique needs of the pandemic situation.
It also looks at pandemic-specific benefits that are offered and their conditions. If you have any queries, comments or suggestions, please feel free to contact us and leave a message. We welcome your input.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Can I claim any benefits if I have to self-isolate?
Do I have to submit proof of having tested COVID positive in order to claim benefits?
It depends on the benefit and the situation. For example, in the workplace, an isolation note is not required for the first week of sick leave. If the absence continues post one week, then you may need to produce an isolation note.
You don’t have to physically see a GP. You can receive an isolation note from the NHS site by answering a quick questionnaire. In order to claim Universal credit or ESA and similar benefits, an isolation note is not required.
For more information- you can refer to – Online isolation notes launched – providing proof of coronavirus absence from work – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Do I get any extra benefits if I am self-employed and self-isolating?
Yes, even as a self-employed person, you will be losing billable hours of work or you may not be able to work for a while if you test positive and are sick. You may not have access to resources if you are self-isolated.
In addition to other benefits like the self-isolation support payment, and other standard benefits like Universal Credit, you can also enroll in the Self Employment Income Support Scheme.
This scheme provides you with compensation for lost profits or income up to 7500 pounds for a period of 3 months, if you are unable to work or are experiencing losses in your own business.
The scheme covers 80% of your average profit for that period, as long as your total annual profit/income does not exceed 50000 pounds. You must also inform the DWP that you are receiving this benefit because it is counted as income in the Universal Credit calculation.
For more details, we encourage you to read- Coronavirus – if you’re self-employed – Citizens Advice.
Are there any additional financial support schemes during self-isolation?
Yes. In addition to the Test and Trace Support payment and the Self-isolation Support payment, there are a few additional benefits that you can claim if you are facing financial difficulties due to self-isolation.
They are as follows:
- Discretionary Support Self-isolation Grant
This covers some living expenses for you and your family when you struggle to make ends meet temporarily as a consequence of self-isolation. It is also extended to students.
It doesn’t have to be repaid and no deductions will be made from later benefit grants. It is also extended to students who are facing financial difficulties as a consequence of the pandemic.
- Universal Credit Contingency Fund
This is similar to Discretionary Support.
But additionally, you just prove that there is a major financial crisis as a consequence of the self-isolation where you’re or your family’s well-being, both in terms of health and financial needs are in jeopardy.
Your annual income must also be below approximately 20000 pounds.
- You may also be able to access interest free loans if you already claim benefits like Universal Credit. You can also claim maternity grants which are generally available but are also discretionary benefits offered during the pandemic and self-isolation.
For more information on the extra financial support you can receive during self-isolation , you can refer to- Extra financial support | nidirect.
Can I claim Carer’s Allowance if I am self-isolating?
Yes, you certainly can. If a person has been claiming Carer’s Allowance because they have been looking after a disabled/chronically sick child/adult, they will continue to receive the benefit.
This holds even if they stop their duties temporarily because they or the person they are taking care of has fallen sick with COVID and have had to be isolated/self-isolated.
The Carer’ Allowance will continue even if the primary carer is unable to perform the necessary duties or if they are not spending the mandated 35 hours per week of care necessary to be eligible.
Take note that in the context of the pandemic, care also extends to any psychological support that is rendered, considering the emotional impact that comes with the isolation of the pandemic.
Can I claim disability benefits when I am in self-isolation?
Yes, you can. If you have been claiming any disability benefits such as Disability Living Allowance(DLA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), or Attendance Allowance (AA),you will continue to receive them.
This is because the disability or health condition is ever present, irrespective of the pandemic. It is perhaps even harder to get by and get around.
Unfortunately, though, because of the social distancing restrictions, the personal, face-to-face assessments for these benefits have been stopped temporarily. But the claimant can still contact the DWP or other concerned departments to make a new claim through other ways.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Benefits. (2020, March 16). Nidirect; nidirect. https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-and-benefits#toc-19
- The Housing Executive – More help with paying your housing costs. (n.d.). Www.nihe.gov.uk. Retrieved November 20, 2021, from https://www.nihe.gov.uk/Housing-Help/Housing-Benefit/More-help-with-paying-your-housing-costs
- Extra financial support. (2016, May 4). Nidirect. https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/extra-financial-support
- Coronavirus – getting benefits if you’re self-isolating. (n.d.). Www.citizensadvice.org.uk. Retrieved November 20, 2021, from https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/coronavirus-getting-benefits-if-youre-self-isolating/
- Claiming financial support under the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme. (n.d.). GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/test-and-trace-support-payment-scheme-claiming-financial-support/claiming-financial-support-under-the-test-and-trace-support-payment-scheme
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- Coronavirus – if you’re self-employed. (n.d.). Www.citizensadvice.org.uk. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/coronavirus-if-youre-self-employed/