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1. What is Income Support?

Income Support helps people who do not have enough to live on. It is only available for certain groups of people who do not get Jobseeker's Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance and are not in full time employment.

The actual amount you get depends on your circumstances.

Income support is a means-tested benefit which means entitlement is based on your income and savings and other capital, which will be looked at to see if they are low enough for you to qualify.

Income Support can be paid on its own if you have no other income or can top-up other benefits or part time earnings to the basic amount the law says you need to live on.

You do not have to have paid national insurance contributions to qualify for Income Support.

If you are making a claim for Income Support and you have children, you should claim Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit as well.

You can’t claim Income Support if you are claiming Universal Credit. If you live in an area where Universal Credit has been introduced and are eligible to claim it you will not be able to make a new claim for Income Support and will need to claim Universal Credit instead.
 

Applies to: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

Age rules: You must usually be 18 or over but under Pension Credit age. 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: Department for Work and Pensions - Jobcentre Plus

2. Can I get Income Support?

You could get Income Support if you, and your partner if you have one, are not in full time employment (this is 16 or more hours per week for you and 24 or more hours for your partner).

You must also fall into a category of people who do not have to look for work. This includes:

• single parents if their youngest or only child is under five years old (seven in Northern Ireland) 
• lone foster parents fostering a child up to age 16 under an official arrangement
• people getting Carer's Allowance
• people who regularly care for someone who is getting Attendance Allowance, the highest or middle rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, either daily living component of Personal Independence Payment or Armed Forces Independence Payment
• people who are incapable of work because of pregnancy or have 11 weeks or less before their expected week of childbirth
• people getting Statutory Sick Pay. 

If you are not able to work due to illness or disability 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 currently getting Income Support because of illness or disability, you will be reassessed at some point to see if you qualify for Employment and Support Allowance instead. Read more about the ESA reassessment process.

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

3. How much Income Support 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.

Use the Turn2us Benefits Calculator to find out how much Income Support you may be entitled to as the amount can vary from one person to another.

Benefit Cap

Income Support is included in the Benefit Cap which limits the total amount in some benefits that working-age people can receive. See our Benefit Cap information page for more details.

How will I be paid Income Support?

Income Support will be paid directly into your Bank, Building Society or Post Office account or by Simple Payment if you are unable to open or manage one of these or a similar account.

You can choose to be paid either weekly in advance, or every 4 or 13 weeks in arrears.

Income Support and other benefits

Income Support is not taken into account as income when calculating other benefits and tax credits.

If you get Income Support and are eligible for Housing Benefit, you are automatically entitled to get the maximum Housing Benefit for your circumstances.

Cold Weather Payment

If you get Income Support, you may also qualify for a Cold Weather Payment.

You do not need to make a claim as the payment will be made automatically for each qualifying period of cold weather. See our Cold Weather Payment guide for further details.

4. How do I claim Income Support?

England, Scotland and Wales

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)

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 for a claim form.(link opens in a new window)

Rapid reclaim

If you need to make a new claim for Income Support within 26 weeks of ending a previous claim, and your circumstances are the same as the last time you claimed, you can fill in a shorter 'Rapid Reclaim' form instead of following 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.

What documents will I need to claim Income Support?

You must send the following documents to support your claim:
•    If you are working – the payslip immediately before the period you want to claim from and any received since  
•    If you are self-employed – the most recent finalised accounts for your business
If you do not have this evidence, you should not delay claiming.

When will my Income Support claim begin?

An Income Support claim will begin from the date the claim form is received by the benefit office.

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

Change of circumstances

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

 

5. How do I challenge an Income Support decision?

If you disagree with the decision made on your Income Support claim, for example due to incorrect information being used, you can ask for it to be looked at again, if you still disagree you can 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