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Young People and benefits

If you are aged under 18 (or under 20 in some circumstances), there may be extra rules to meet to get benefits. If you cannot get benefits in your own right, someone else, such as a parent or guardian, may be able to claim amounts for you within the benefits they get.

1. Who is a young person?

There are special rules about benefits for people aged under 18.

Most people under 18 can’t claim benefits but there are some exceptions. 

This guide is for people aged 16-18 who want to find out if they can get benefits. 

If you are under 16, you can’t claim any benefits apart from Child Benefit.

If someone is getting Child Benefit for you, you can’t get most benefits in your own right. If you are still in education up to A level standard, someone might carry on getting Child Benefit for you up to the age of 20.

If someone is claiming Child Benefit for you but you want to be able to make benefit claims in your own name, you should speak to an adviser about how this will affect your household’s income.

If you have spent time in care, special rules might apply to you. Read our guide on Care Leavers and Benefits to check.

 

Updated: April 2019
 

2. Ill or disabled young people

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit

It is no longer possible to make new claims for Employment and Support Allowance.

Ill and disabled young people may be able to claim Universal Credit.

You will need to have a fit note saying that you can’t work. You will also have to have an assessment to decide if you have limited capability for work. 

You cannot usually get Universal Credit while you are studying unless you have limited capability for work and receive Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

You can carry on getting Employment and Support Allowance if you are already getting it and you carry on having limited capability for work and meeting the other qualifying conditions for the benefit. 

You cannot usually get Employment and Support Allowance if you are studying in relevant education or if you are a full-time student – see our Studying (aged 16+) section for more information.

Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment

From your 16th birthday, you may be able to claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for yourself (instead of a parent/guardian claiming for you) if you have care and/or mobility needs. It can be paid on top of any other benefits you receive.

 

Updated: April 2019

3. Young carers

If you are aged 16+ and are caring at least 35 hours a week for a person who is ill or has disabilities, you may qualify for Carer’s Allowance and/or Universal Credit. There are certain other conditions you must fulfil, such as not being in full-time work or education, so you should check the rules of entitlement for each benefit to see if you qualify. You may also be eligible for other forms of help as well – see our Carers section.

 

Updated: April 2019

4. Young people in education

Advanced education

If you are attending a course of advanced education, see our Studying (aged 16+) section for information about the rules relating to benefits while studying.

Relevant education

Most young people who are in relevant education (this is non-advanced education) cannot claim benefits. However, you may be able to claim Universal Credit if your income is low enough and you:

  • Have a child for whom you receive Child Benefit

  • Are a student from abroad whose funds from abroad are temporarily disrupted (you’ll only get benefit for a maximum of six weeks)

  • Are an orphan and have no-one acting for you in place of your parents

  • You have left local authority care and live away from your parents or any person acting in their place

(but see the special rules for care leavers)

  • You have to live away from your parents and any person acting in their place and either:

    • you are estranged from them or would be in danger if you lived with them

    • they cannot support you because they are in prison or unable to come to the UK

    • they are sick or have disabilities.

If you cannot claim benefits for yourself while you are in relevant education because you do not fall into one of the groups described above, your parents/guardian may be able to continue getting benefits for you as their child.

In some limited situations, you may have entitlement to benefits in your own right and your parent/guardian may also have entitlement to benefits such as Child Benefit for you at the same time. What you claim can have an effect on the benefits that your parent/guardian can claim.

For example, Maria claims Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit for her daughter Louise, who is aged 16 and in relevant education. Louise gives birth to a son, Charlie. If Louise claims Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit for Charlie, Maria could still get Child Benefit for Louise, but will lose Child Tax Credit for her. If Louise claims Income Support, then Maria will also lose her Child Benefit.

If you are in this situation, you should seek advice about what would be the best choice from a local benefits adviser. You can use our Find an Adviser tool to find a local one.

Updated: April 2019

5. Young people in work

If you are a young person and working, you might be able to claim Universal Credit if:

  • The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has decided you have limited capability for work, and you are earning less than £569/month, or the DWP has decided you have limited capability for work and you receive Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
  • You are receiving Carer's Allowance or you would be entitled to Carer’s Allowance but your earnings are too high, or
  • You or your partner are responsible for a child
  • You are an orphan and have no-one acting for you in place of your parents
  • You have left local authority care and live away from your parents or any person acting in their place (but see the special rules for care leavers)
  • You have to live away from your parents and any person acting in their place and either:
    • you are estranged from them or would be in danger if you lived with them
    • they cannot support you because they are in prison or unable to come to the UK
    • they are sick or have disabilities.

It is no longer possible to make new claims for Working Tax Credit (WTC). If you are a young person and are working, you may be able to carry on getting WTC if you:

  • work 16 hours or more a week, and
  • are on a low income, and
  • are responsible for a child, or
  • have a disability that puts you at a disadvantage in getting a job and be getting certain disability benefits (or did so before you started work).

If you're in a couple and you are responsible for a child, you usually have to work 24 hours a week between you, with one of you working at least 16 hours a week, to get WTC.

 

Updated: April 2019
 

6. Young people looking for work

If you are unemployed, you may be able to get Universal Credit. You will need to show you are available for work and are looking for work. You will also need to be in one of these groups:

  • You or your partner are responsible for a child
  • You are an orphan and have no-one acting for you in place of your parents
  • You have left local authority care and live away from your parents or any person acting in their place (but see the special rules for care leavers)
  • You have to live away from your parents and any person acting in their place and either:
    • you are estranged from them or would be in danger if you lived with them
    • they cannot support you because they are in prison or unable to come to the UK
    • they are sick or have disabilities

It is no longer possible to make new claims for Jobseeker's Allowance but if you are already getting it you may be able to carry on getting it as long as you carry on meeting the conditions of entitlement.
 

Updated: April 2019

7. Young people with a child

You should qualify for Child Benefit as there is no minimum age limit to claim this. 

You may be able to get Universal Credit if you are aged at least 16 and are responsible for a child. You may be able to claim Universal Credit if you are at least 29 weeks pregnant (but not if you are a care leaver). You may be able to claim Universal Credit if you had a baby or your baby was stillborn in the past 15 weeks (but not if you are a care leaver).

It is no longer possible to make new claims for Child Tax Credit, but if you are already getting it you may be able to carry on getting it as long as you carry on meeting the conditions of entitlement.

If you live with your family it would be a good idea to speak to an adviser before making any claims for benefits for your child.

There are a range of other benefits and assistance available for people with children which you may qualify for depending on your circumstances – see our Expecting a Child section and our Bringing up a Child section for more information.

 

Updated: April 2019

 

8. Young people with housing costs

Rent

You may be able to get help to pay your rent through Universal Credit.

You must be paying rent under a commercial agreement. You cannot get Housing Benefit or the housing Element of Universal Credit if you live with your landlord and they are a close relative, e.g. your parents.

It is no longer possible to make new claims for Housing Benefit (Housing Benefit England Scotland and Wales/ Housing Benefit Northern Ireland), but if you are already getting it you may be able to carry on getting it as long as you carry on meeting the conditions of entitlement.

Universal Credit and Housing Benefit are means tested so whether you qualify will depend on your income and circumstances. You can still claim even if you are working full time.

As a young person you will probably find that your Housing Benefit or the Housing Element of your Universal Credit is restricted to the cost of living in accommodation with shared facilities.

There is no minimum age limit to claim Housing Benefit, but you must be able to show you have a legal liability to pay rent, which may be difficult if you are under 16.

Remember that if you are a care leaver, you may not qualify for  Housing Benefit or Universal Credit at all, even if you would otherwise meet all entitlement rules.

Council Tax

If you are on a low income and liable to pay Council Tax you may be able to claim help with your Council Tax through Council Tax Support. However, if you are aged under 18 you will not be liable for Council Tax.

If you are a full-time student in advanced education, you may not be able to claim Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support unless you fall within a certain category – see our Studying (aged 16+) section. There are no rules preventing you from claiming Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support if you are in relevant education or if you are under 21 and studying on a course below degree level which you started before you were 19.

 

Updated: April 2019