Your marital status plays a key role when it comes to claiming benefits. This is the reason why we will try to answer the question if you can claim benefits while you are married but separated through the course of this blog post. Additionally, we will discuss the benefits one may or may not be able to claim considering their circumstances and ability to earn an income.

Can You Claim Benefits If You Are Married But Separated?

Yes, you can claim benefits if you are married but separated from your partner. If you and your partner choose to separate permanently, you can claim the following benefits as a single person immediately:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit

These are the six legacy benefits that are being replaced with Universal Credit. If you are going to be on a low income as a result of your separation with no financial support from your partner, you can apply for Universal Credit to pay your living and housing expenses.

If you are looking for work, have paid sufficient National Insurance contributions and have worked for two tax years, you can claim Jobseeker’s Allowance. If you don’t qualify for JSA, you can apply for Universal Credit instead.

If you are going to be the only adult in the house as a result of separation from your partner, you will be eligible for the single-person discount on your council tax bill. 

If there are children involved, the parent who is the primary carer of the children can claim Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit.

If you and your partner were claiming joint benefits before your separation, your payments will now reduce as a result of your marital status. For instance, if you were earlier claiming Universal Credit as a couple aged under 25 years, your benefit payment will reduce from £403.93 a month to £257.33. In the case of one or both partners being older than 25, this payment will reduce from £509.91 to £324.84 a month.

However, if your separation is temporary or on a trial basis, you may not be able to claim benefits that a separated individual is usually eligible for since your situation depicts that there is still a chance for the two of you to get back together,

Can You Claim Benefits If You Are Separated But Living Together?

Yes, you can claim benefits if you and your partner choose to separate as a couple but continue living together. However, if you were claiming benefits as a couple, they may be reduced to single-person claims even if you live in the same house. On the other hand, being separated may make you and your partner eligible for certain other benefits that you were unable to claim before.

If you and your partner were jointly claiming benefits as a couple, you should inform Job Centre and DWP of the change in your relationship status as you may no longer qualify for the same amount. Alternatively, you may now be able to claim certain other state benefits due to your single status.

What Benefits Can You Claim If You Are Separated?

Depending on your situation as a single person, you will be able to apply for the following benefits:

  • If you have sole responsibility for a child under the age of 16 years, you can claim Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit.
  • Parents who work equal to or less than 16 hours per week or cannot work can claim Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance.
  • If you have a health condition or a disability due to which you cannot work, you can claim Employment and Support Allowance
  • You may qualify for income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance. If you receive these benefits for 26 weeks, you can apply for an interest-free loan for basic home expenses.
  • If you are a single parent working 16 hours or more per week, you can claim Working Tax Credit.
  • If you are a homeowner claiming Universal Credit, you can apply for Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) to help you with mortgage payments.

You can visit the UK Government’s website to check the benefits and financial support that you can claim.

Can You Claim Universal Credit If You Are A Stay-At-Home Mum After Separation?

Yes, you can claim Universal Credit if you are a stay-at-home mother but this depends on (a) your income and savings and (b) the age of your child (or children).

To claim Universal Credit, your savings should be less than £16,000. The amount that you receive will increase as savings reduce with full payment due if they are equal to or less than £6,000. 

Similarly, the age of your youngest child will affect your Universal Credit claim as a stay-at-home mum. Below are the details:

  • If your youngest child is under 1 year old, you don’t need to look for work to claim Universal Credit. 
  • Once they turn 1 year old, you will be asked to attend work-related interviews with a work coach. 
  • As soon as your youngest child is 2 years old, you should take active steps to prepare for work including making a CV. 
  • When your youngest turns 3 or 4 years, you will be expected to work or look for work for a maximum of 16 hours per week. This may include training and work-related interviews. 
  • When they are between 5 and 12 years old, they will be required to work or look for work for a maximum of 25 hours per week. 
  • When your youngest child is 13 years of age you should work or look for work for a maximum of 35 hours per week to continue with your Universal Credit claim.

Can Benefits Be Refused If You Are Married But Separated?

Yes, your claim for welfare benefits can be reduced by the DWP if they have reason to believe that you and your partner have separated only to claim benefits.

There are cases in which married couples who were claiming benefits earlier choose to separate only so that they can continue without having their joint incomes and savings of couples assessed for a benefits claim.

If the DWP finds out that someone has lied about their personal circumstances or deliberately hidden information to continue claiming benefits, the claimant can be held accountable for benefit fraud.

If you think that your benefits claim has been refused in error or due to missing information, you can appeal the decision by contacting the authorities using these contact details:

Benefit appeals helpline in England and Wales

Telephone: 0300 123 1142 (Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 5 pm)

Email: contactsscs@justice.gov.uk

Conclusion:

The above discussion has helped in clearly defining what counts as being separated from your partner and how you can claim benefits as a result of being a single person, lone parent or being on a low income due to the change in your marital status. However, the same does not apply to individuals who are not officially separated and are only in a temporary separation considering the possibility of getting back together in the future.

FAQs: Can You Claim Benefits If You Are Married But Separated?

How does separation affect Universal Credit?

Separation affects Universal Credit by reducing your joint claim to a single-person payment. While you will continue receiving your payments on the same date as before, the amount you receive will be lesser in comparison to what you were claiming as a married couple.

Can I get Housing Benefit if I am separated?

Yes, you can claim Housing Benefit to pay for housing costs such as rental payments if you are permanently separated from your former partner. If the separation is temporary, you will not be able to claim the benefit.

Can you be separated but still live together?

Legally, there is nothing wrong with living together with a partner after being separated as it is common for former couples to do so for financial reasons or in situations where children are involved.

Do I have any rights to my partner’s house?

If you were in a marriage or civil partnership, both of you will have ownership rights of the house that you were living in. This will not be affected by whether or not you were contributing towards mortgage payments. Until there is a divorce settlement, both of you can continue living in the matrimonial home.

Who leaves the house in a separation?

While there is no legal obligation on either party to leave the house in case of separation; especially in the case of a jointly owned property. However, in the case of sole property, it may be advisable for one of the partners to eventually move out of the premises. 

References:

What benefits can I claim if I’m divorcing or separating? | MoneyHelper

Benefits and help with council tax when you separate – Citizens Advice

Am I entitled to any benefits if divorcing or separating? – Rest Less

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