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Benefits

Benefits are divided into four groups:

  • benefits for people of working age
  • benefits for people who have retired or who are planning to retire
  • benefits for families and children
  • benefits for disabled people and carers.

Many people do not claim the benefits they are entitled to. Even a small amount of extra money can make a big difference, so it pays to spend a little time finding out about what you can claim.

For example, you may be able to get help with your rent and Council Tax, and, if you are on a low income, you may be entitled to Income Support. There are also benefits available if you are disabled or caring for someone.

Some benefits can be claimed only if you have paid enough National Insurance, while others are paid depending on your circumstances or the amount of money you already have.

  • Contributory benefits (or National Insurance benefits) can be claimed if you have paid enough National Insurance. Typical examples would be a Retirement Pension or Incapacity Benefit.
  • Non-contributory means-tested benefits can be claimed if your income is below a certain level. Typical examples are Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. It does not matter how much National Insurance you have paid.
  • Non-contributory non means-tested benefits can be claimed depending on your circumstances. It does not matter how much National Insurance you have paid or how much money you already have. Typical examples are Child Benefit and Disability Living Allowance.
  • Tax and pension credits can be claimed depending on your income and situation. For example, if you work and have children you may be able to claim Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. Older people may be able to claim Pension Credit depending on their income and savings.

Where do I start?

You may be entitled to benefits if you or someone in your household is:

  • Over pension age
  • Unemployed
  • Off work due to illness or incapacity
  • Pregnant
  • A parent or new parent
  • Sick or disabled
  • Working but on a low wage
  • Widowed
  • Recently bereaved
  • Caring for someone who is sick or disabled
  • A student

For free independent advice about benefits, you can contact any of the agencies listed here.

Find out more at http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/MoneyTaxAndBenefits/BenefitsTaxCreditsAndOtherSupport/index.htm

Benefit Reform CalculatorTo see how you will be affected by changes in the rules for housing benefit, try our Benefit Reform calculator.

Wiltshire Money - Welfare Reform Act Infographic