Benefits

Benefits

Benefits organisations

Benefits come from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – formerly called Benefits Agency, DSS and DHSS.
This is split into:

  • Jobcentre Plus (JCP) – Work related benefits
  • Disability and Carers Service (DCS) – Disability benefits

What can be claimed?

If you are in employment you can claim statutory sick pay (SSP) or disability living allowance (DLA)
If you are not in employment you can claim:

  • Short-term incapacity benefit (for 6 months)
  • Long-term incapacity benefit (after 6 months)
  • Income support

Bereavement Benefits

These are payable on the death of a husband, wife or civil partner. However, entitlement depends on the National Insurance (NI) contributions made by the partner who died.
There are three types:

  • Bereavement payment – lump sum of £2000
  • Widowed parents allowance – weekly benefit to widowed parents
  • Bereavement allowance – weekly benefit

Carer’s Allowance

This can be claimed if you are looking after someone who is disabled. However, certain conditions apply. The person you are looking after must be over 16 years, must be receiving DLA or attendance allowance and you must spend at least 35 hours a week caring for that person. You do not have to be related or live with the person you care/are claiming for.

However, you can’t claim if:

  • In full time education with 21 hours or more a week of supervised study
  • Earn > £84 after deductions

Disability Living Allowance

This is a payment to help people whose health means they can’t move about or care for themselves. It can be claimed by those who:

  • Have a physical or mental disability (or both)
  • Need help with care or walking
  • Are <65 years:

There are two components to DLA:

  • Care – 3 levels
  • Mobility – 2 levels

Some people are entitled to both components, some only one component. You are entitled to DLA whether you work or not, and it is not usually affected by any savings or income. You can get DLA even if you live alone (i.e. no-one is actually giving you the care you need).

To apply for DLA you need to fill out a long form (you may ask your GP to complete the section “someone who knows you”). The Disability and Carers Service may then request further information from your GP or request a medical examination. You can appeal against a decision if rejected.

Statutory Sick Pay

This is a statutory payment designed for people who are sick for 4 days in a row (including weekends and bank holidays). In order to claim you must satisfy the ‘Lower Earnings Limit’ for National Insurance contributions (about £87-90 a week before tax and NI). It can be claimed for a maximum of 28 weeks (6 months), after this you must apply for incapacity benefit. It is paid at a standard rate of £75.40 per week, though employers are free to make top-up payments on top of your normal SSP if they so choose (depends on employment contract).

It is not affected if admitted to hospital and you may claim from multiple employers (if more than one job). Employers cannot get out of paying SSP by terminating an employees contract.

It cannot be claimed if you are:

  • Away from work on trade union activity
  • In legal custody
  • Claiming incapacity benefit for the 8 weeks prior to your illness
  • Receiving statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance (and are ill during this period)

Incapacity Benefit

In the short term a GP fills in a Med3 form to claim for this. In the long term the Jobcentre Plus request patients to fill in form IB50 (to justify claim). After this time (usually 6 months), no more certificates are required from the GP (but Jobcentre Plus does review benefits at certain intervals).

Income Support

This provides financial help for people aged 16-60 who have:

  • A low income
  • Not in full-time work
  • Are one of the groups that can claim

As such it can help with day to day living expenses. Note it is not paid to people who are unemployed.

Sources

  1. Bradford VTS (main source)
  2. DirectGov: DLA [Accessed 11.05.09]