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Are you eligible for benefits?

Written by: Emma Lunn
As inflation soars, higher energy prices loom and the rising cost of living impacts households across the UK, more people will be in need of financial help.

Citizens Advice research has shown that about 3 million households are facing a cost of living crisis this winter, unable to afford basics like food or heating.

Kate Smith, senior benefits expert at Citizens Advice, said: “This year many people will be feeling the pinch as the cost of living crisis bites. One of the most important things to do if you’re facing tough times is to make sure you’re getting all the support that you’re entitled to.”

To help hard up households, experts from the charity have answered the top five most commonly searched for benefits eligibility questions on the charity’s website last year.

Am I eligible for Personal Independence Payment?

If you need extra help because of an illness, disability or mental health condition you could receive the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

It’s assessed on the level of help you need with specific activities and it’s hard to say if you will qualify for PIP. But if you struggle with things like preparing and cooking food, washing and bathing or communicating with others, it might be worth applying. There is also a mobility component to PIP, so if you have difficulty walking outside you might qualify.

To start a new claim for PIP you can contact the PIP New Claims line on 0800 917 2222.

Am I eligible for Pension Credit?

Pension Credit is a weekly benefit to boost your income. It’s based on how much money you have coming in. There are two parts to Pension Credit.

The first is called Guarantee Credit and to get it you must be of State Pension age and live in the UK.  This benefit uses a calculation of your income and savings over £10,000. If your weekly income is below £177.10 as a single person, it’ll boost it to that level. If you’re claiming as a couple, it’ll top up your income to £270.30. You might be eligible for additional help if you’re a carer, responsible for a child or disabled.

The second, Savings Credit, is a small top-up for people who have a modest amount of income or savings. It’s available for people who reached state pension age before 6 April 2016.

You can use the Pension Credit calculator on the government’s website to see if you qualify.

Am I eligible for Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a benefit you can claim if you’re on a low income or unemployed. It can also be claimed if you’re unable to work because of illness or disability. You can get PIP as well if you’re eligible.

There’s no set level of income where you stop being eligible so if you’re struggling to pay your bills on your salary, are out of work or have caring responsibilities, you could apply. You may be able to get help with childcare costs if you’re eligible.

You’ll need to be below the state pension age, to live in the UK and have less than £16,000 in savings to apply.

Am I eligible for Working Tax Credit?

Universal Credit has replaced tax credits for most people. If you already get Child Tax Credits, you can still add Working Tax Credits to your claim.

If you are eligible, the amount you’d get would depend on your income and other factors, like if you have children. You’ll also need to work a minimum number of hours a week, which varies depending on your age and circumstance.

Am I eligible for a Council Tax Reduction?

If you’re the only adult in your home, you ought to be eligible for a 25% discount in your bill. You’ll also get this if the only other adults in the home aren’t counted for council tax purposes. This includes full-time students and people with learning disabilities or severe mental impairment.

You might also be eligible for a Council Tax Reduction. The rules governing these are set by your local council, so will vary depending on where you live. If you’re on a low income, or are in receipt of benefits, it’s worth checking with your local council to find out if you can claim.

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