Certain welfare benefits take into account the claimant’s income while others do not. The purpose of this article is to answer the question of whether or not someone of low income can claim benefits. If they can, we will discuss the benefits that can be claimed as well as review additional financial support that one can pursue if they are on a low income.

Can You Claim Benefits If You Are On A Low Income?

Yes, you can claim benefits if you are on a low income. These are termed means-tested benefits; that take your (and your partner’s) income and savings into account during a financial assessment which is conducted after you apply to claim benefits.

For instance, if you live in England and are on a low income, you can apply for Universal Credit. This is a welfare benefit that is replacing six benefits; which are known as legacy benefits. These include the following:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Working Tax Credit

Therefore, if you were earlier claiming any of these benefits, you will automatically be transferred to Universal Credit. On the other hand, if you are filing a fresh application, you will directly claim Universal Credit once your assessment for the benefits is completed and approved by the DWP.

What Benefits Can You Claim If You Are On A Low Income?

If you are on a low income you can claim Universal Credit; which is aimed at providing financial support to individuals who are either employed (or self-employed) but low on income, actively looking for a job or are unable to work. 

If you are on a low income and are responsible for a child (or children) younger than 16 years of age (or 20 years if they are in full-time education), you can claim Child Benefit. This will add to your National Insurance credits which can later on count towards your State Pension.

If you claim State Pension and are on a low income, you can apply for Pension Credit. This benefit will help you with living expenses including housing costs.

In addition to this, you can avail of a Council Tax Reduction if you are on a low income or claim benefits. Depending on the below-listed eligibility criteria for CTR, you may be able to get a 100% discount on your annual council tax bill:

  • the area where you live since each council runs its scheme
  • your circumstances including income, number of children, benefits and residency status
  • your household income (this includes you and your partner) such as wages, savings and pensions
  • whether or not your children live with you
  • if you share your residence with other adults

If an individual is low on income and challenged with a disability or they are taking care of someone with a disability, the below-listed non-means tested benefits can be claimed in England:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Constant Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance for adults
  • Disability Living Allowance for children
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • War Pension Mobility Supplement

You can use an independent benefits calculator to learn about which benefits you can claim, how to claim them and what changes to payments to expect if there is a change in your income.

How Can You Claim To Be On A Low Income?

Households in the UK are classified as being on low income if they live on less than 60 per cent of the median net disposable income earned. As per recent data gathered and analysed by the Department for Work and Pensions if a single person earns £31,285 before tax, they will be termed as being on a low income.

Two things are to be understood here:

  • This pre-tax income does not account for taxes and other deductions but includes all income-based benefits.
  • When gathering data for statistical analysis, household incomes are equivalised. This is done so that the numbers of adults versus children are taken into account and there is no disparity in comparisons across varied households with different family structures.

How Else Can You Claim Support If You Are On A Low Income?

In addition to welfare benefits, individuals on a low income can claim support through other government support schemes.

For instance, individuals who claim the following benefits can further get help through the Cost of Living Payment:

  • Universal Credit
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit

This is a lump sum payment of £650 that the government provided you with in two instalments.

If someone is on a low income and challenged with a disability or a mental health condition that prevents them from performing basic tasks, they may be able to claim non-means tested benefits and consequently, a Disability Cost of Living Payment of £150.

If someone has children and they are on a low income, they can claim £2,000 per year, per child through the government scheme of Tax-Free Childcare. However, the claimant is expected to earn the basic rate of national minimum wage for the next three after they file a claim.

Individuals who are on a low income and have been claiming benefits for at least 6 months can also apply for a Budgeting Loan. this is a form of financial support that can cover various expenses including housing costs and living expenses; as well as repayment of loans.

If you are on a low income, you will also be able to claim the NHS Low Income Scheme. This will help you with NHS costs including prescriptions, dental and eye care expenses as well as healthcare travel costs.

Conclusion:

The discussion in this blog post brings us to the conclusion that individuals with a low income can claim welfare benefits. This applies to means-tested benefits as well as non-means-tested benefits. However, one would need t to provide evidence of their income as well as relevant reasoning for being on a low income.

FAQs: Can You Claim Benefits If You Are On A Low Income?

How often do people on benefits get paid?

Depending on the type of benefit claimed and one’s individual circumstances, most benefits are paid monthly with some of them being paid on a fortnightly basis. However, CFarer’s Allowance, Child Benefit for single parents and PIP for terminally ill claimants are paid weekly.

What else can you claim if you get PIP?

Recipients of PIP may additionally be eligible for additional money through Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit, Employment and Support Allowance as well as Pension Credit.

Can you get Universal Credit if you work 16 hours a week?

Yes, you can claim Universal Credit if you work 16 hours a week or more. While the amount that you claim may reduce with an increase in your earnings, UC payments will not stop if you start working.

What is the earning threshold for council tax benefits?

If an individual is earning 60 per cent below the median income threshold, they become eligible for a council tax reduction on their bill.

What qualifies for low-income in the UK?

Households in the UK are classified as being on low income if they live on less than 60 per cent of the median net disposable income earned. This means that if a single person earns £31,285 before tax, they will be termed as being on a low income.

References:

Benefits and financial support if you’re on a low income – GOV.UK

Help on a low income – Citizens Advice

Benefits you can claim if you are not working or are on a low income

What Universal Credit is – GOV.UK

Apply for Council Tax Reduction – GOV.UK

Claim Child Benefit: How it works – GOV.UK

NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS)

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?