The aim of this blog is to answer the question of whether or not you can claim benefits if your partner works. To answer this question, we will discuss the eligibility criteria for means-tested benefits in the UK; as well as explore the impact of earnings on welfare benefits when household incomes are taken into account during a means test to claim benefits.

Can You Claim Benefits If Your Partner Works?

Yes, you can claim some benefits if your partner works and draws an income.

If you are claiming benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support or Employment and Support Allowance, then your partner’s work status will not affect your claim. This is because these benefits are based on your own personal circumstances and not on your partner’s.

However, if you are claiming Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction, then your partner’s work status could affect your entitlement. This is because these benefits are based on your household income and not just your own personal circumstances.

If you are claiming Universal Credit, then your partner’s work status could also affect your entitlement. This is because Universal Credit is based on your household income and not just your own personal circumstances.

If you are claiming means-tested benefits, your partner’s income will be used to calculate your “personal allowance”. This is the amount of money you can earn before your benefits are affected.

If your partner’s income is high, you may not be entitled to any benefits at all. This is because the government has set a limit on the number of benefits that can be claimed by couples.

The limit is currently £50,000 per year. This means that if your partner is earning more than £50,000 per year, you will not be able to claim any benefits.

If you are claiming benefits and your partner’s income is low, you may be entitled to more benefits. This is because the government has set a “minimum income floor” for couples.

Income-based benefits such as the following are affected by your partner’s income when it is taken into account along with your income and savings to assess your financial situation before a benefits claim is approved by the DWP:

  • Tax credits
  • Pension Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Universal Credit
  • Income Support
  • Council Tax Reduction
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance

How Does Your Partner’s Income Affect Tax Credits?

When you apply for Tax Credits, the government looks at your joint income (if you have one). This means that if your partner earns more than you, it could affect how much Tax Credits you get.

Tax Credits are means-tested benefits that are paid to low and middle-income families to help them with the costs of raising children and working. The amount of Tax Credits you can receive is based on your household income and the number of children you have.

The government uses a formula to work out how much tax credits you’re entitled to. This formula includes a “family element”, which is an extra amount of money that you can get if you have children.

The family element is included in both Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit. But the amount you get depends on your joint income.

If your joint income is below the “threshold”, you’ll get the full family element. The threshold is currently £26,000 a year (or £35,000 if you have a child under one).

If your joint income is above the threshold, you’ll still get some of the family element. But the amount you get will go down for every £100 that your joint income is over the threshold.

The other thing you need to know is that your partner’s income will only be taken into account if they live with you. If they don’t live with you, their income won’t be taken into account when the government works out your Tax Credits.

However, Tax Credits are being replaced with Universal Credit across the UK. Therefore, if you wish to make a fresh claim, you can use the HMRC online chat for guidance.

How Does Your Partner’s Income Affect Pension Credit?

When you apply for Pension Credit, your partner’s income is taken into account. This is because, as a couple, you are treated as one unit for means-tested benefits.

This means that, if your partner has a higher income than you, it could affect how much Pension Credit you get.

For example, if your partner’s income is £60 a week and yours is £50 a week, the total combined income is £110 a week. This is more than the amount that a single person can get, so you would not be eligible for the full amount of Pension Credit.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. For example, if your partner is under the State Pension age, their income will not be taken into account. Or, if your partner is in receipt of certain types of disability benefits, their income may not be taken into account either.

If you are eligible for Pension Credit, the amount you receive will be based on your combined income. So, if your partner has a higher income than you, this will increase the amount of Pension Credit you are entitled to.

How Does Your Partner’s Income Affect Universal Credit?

When you claim Universal Credit, your partner’s income is taken into account as part of your joint household income. This means that if your partner is working, their income will affect the amount of Universal Credit you receive. This means that you will receive less Universal Credit than if you were both working.

If you and your partner are both working, your joint income will be taken into account when your Universal Credit is calculated. This means that if you have a high income, you may receive less Universal Credit than if you had a low income.

As of April 2019, if you and your partner are claiming Universal Credit, you can now get split payments. This means that your partner’s earnings will not be taken into account when working out your Universal Credit award.

If you’re on benefits and your partner works, you might be able to get split payment for Universal Credit.

This means your partner would get paid their Universal Credit payment into their own bank account, and you would get paid your part into yours.

It can help if you’re both managing your money separately, or if you’re on a low income and your partner is working.

To get a split payment, you’ll need to have a joint claim for Universal Credit. You can do this by:

  • going to your nearest Jobcentre Plus office
  • calling the Universal Credit helpline
  • using the online claim form

If you’re already getting Universal Credit, you can ask for split payment by calling the helpline or logging into your online account.

Conclusion:

The above discussion helps to conclude that while an individual can claim some means-tested benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support or Employment and Support Allowance if their partner works, their payments for Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction or Universal Credit may reduce when their partner’s income is taken into account for a means-test.

FAQs: Can You Claim Benefits If Your Partner Works?

Can I get Housing Benefit if my partner works?

Yes, you can get Housing Benefit if your partner works. However, the amount that you can claim with the benefit can be reduced due to the income your partner draws.

Do my partner’s earnings affect my Universal Credit?

Yes, your partner’s earnings affect your Universal Credit as the amount that you claim tends to reduce with an increase in income. However, if you or a partner have limited capability for work or have a child to look after, your partner’s earnings may not affect your Universal Credit payment.

Can I claim Universal Credit as a single person if I live with my partner?

While you may be able to claim Universal Credit in certain cases despite living with a partner, you will be required to make a joint claim in most cases if you are married. Irrespective of either situation, if you live in the same house with a partner, both incomes will be taken into account for a benefit claim.

How many hours can a couple work on Universal Credit?

There is no limit on the number of hours a couple can work while they claim Universal Credit. However, the amount that they claim will reduce as income increases with an increase in working hours. 

What is low income in the UK?

A low income in the UK is 60% less than the median income. For instance, a couple with no children will be considered on a low income if their annual household income is £17,100 or below.

References:

A survival guide to living with a partner and benefits | Advicenow

Joint Universal Credit claims for couples | MoneyHelper

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