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Income Support

Key information

Income Support helps people on low incomes who are not expected to make themselves available for work. It is for people who don't qualify for Jobseeker's Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance.

Applies to: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Age rules: You must usually be 18 or over but under the qualifying age for Pension Credit. Some 16 and 17 year-olds can get Income Support though - see our section for Young People.

Type of benefit: Means tested

Taxable: No (in most instances)

Administered by: Jobcentre Plus

Index

You can read through this information sheet, or go directly to the sections you want to read by clicking on these links:

Who does it help?

You will get Income Support if you are not in full time employment (less than 16 hours per week) and fall into a category of people who do not have to look for work. This includes:

If you are too sick or ill to work, and are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, you should claim income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) instead of Income Support.

If you are already getting Income Support because of sickness or disability, you will carry on getting it for now but you will be reassessed at some point to see if you qualify for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Read more about the ESA reassessment process.

You may be able to get Income Support if you are working less than 16 hours a week and your income still falls below a certain amount. There are also some jobs you can do where you're allowed to work for more than 16 hours, for example if you are working at home as a childminder.

You can claim Income Support for yourself and a partner who lives with you. Your partner must work less than 24 hours a week. If they work for 24 hours or more, you will not be able to get Income Support. 

If you have savings over £16,000 you will not be able to get Income Support.

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How much will I get?

It is complicated to work out how much Income Support you might get. Your income from different sources is added up and compared against what the government considers your needs are. Your needs will depend on your family circumstances, for example:

  • how old you are
  • if you live alone or in a couple
  • whether you or your dependants are disabled
  • if you are caring for someone
  • if you or your partner have savings over £6,000
  • any earnings you or your partner may have
  • if you have a mortgage.

The amount of Income Support you get is the difference between the money you have and your needs. It can vary from one person to another.

Cold Weather Payment

If you are responsible for a child under five, or receive one of the following premiums with your Income Support, you also qualify for a Cold Weather Payment of £25 if the average temperature where you live falls to zero degrees Celsius or below for seven days in a row:

  • Disability
  • Severe Disability
  • Enhanced disability
  • Disabled child
  • Pensioner
  • Higher pensioner

You may also qualify if you are getting Child Tax Credit with the disability or severe disability element alongside your Income Support.

You do not need to make a claim as the payment will be made automatically for each week of cold weather.

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How do I make a claim?

Telephone Claim

Phone Jobcentre Plus:

Telephone: 0800 055 6688
Textphone: 0800 023 4888
Welsh language line: 0800 012 1888

Paper Claim

Download a claim form from the GOV.UK website (link opens in a new window PDF file size 299kb)

In Northern Ireland

Download a claim form from the NI Direct website (link opens in a new window)

Contact your local Social Security/Jobs and Benefits Office (link opens in a new window) for a claim form.

Rapid reclaim

If you have already claimed Income Support in the past and you need to make a new claim within 26 weeks, and there has been no change in your circumstance, you can fill in a shorter 'Rapid Reclaim' form instead of the normal claim procedure. For example, this could apply if you used to claim Income Support then you took up a job which did not work out and you need to go back on to Income Support.

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What documents will I need?

You must give your national insurance number. You normally also have to give your partner's national insurance number if you are claiming as a couple. You also have to give evidence of your personal and family circumstances.  

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Can it be backdated?

Income Support can be backdated for up to three months before the date of the claim if you would have been entitled to it earlier. You have to have an acceptable reason for claiming late. Request this when claiming.

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Challenging decisions

If you disagree with the decision made on your benefit claim you can ask for a written statement of reasons. If you still believe the decision is wrong, for example due to incorrect information being used, you can ask for it to be looked at again, and/or appeal.

The time limits are strict, you will usually be given one month to dispute a decision, so it is important to seek advice and act quickly.

Further information on Challenges and complaints

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Change of circumstance

You must report changes in your circumstances which might affect your entitlement to this benefit

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Last updated: 8 April 2013

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