This page can act as a starting point for thinking about which benefits you might be able to get. But we recommend getting free, expert, personal advice. Especially if you are claiming benefits for the first time. Or if your circumstances have changed and you need to change your benefits.
Lots of people are missing out on benefits they should be getting because the system can be so hard to deal with. This is especially true if you are having to cope with a health condition as well.
It can take a long time for some benefits to come through. If you think you might be able to claim a benefit, get advice now. Do not put off applying. Even if you can manage at the moment.
- Benefits information.
- Local advice centres.
- Help to Claim advisors who can help with the early stages of Universal Credit claims in England, Scotland and Wales.
Find local Advice
The Advice local site can help you find free advice and support. But not all the services listed deal with benefits. And some only work with certain groups such as people over pension age or people with a disability.
If you are on the transplant list or going for a transplant assessment.
Some transplant units have a social worker as part of their team. The social worker can help with benefits. So ask your medical team what is available in your area.
This calculator can give an estimate of the benefits you could get. It is suitable for most people permanently living in the UK. But it is not meant for people who are in hospital, residential care, on strike or in prison.
The UK government page has Links to other benefits calculators.
From 2013 the government began to change the benefits system. This means that some older benefits are no longer available for new claims. You can no longer make a new claim for:
- Income Based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income Related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit, with some exceptions, click here for more information.
If you think you might be entitled to help with any of these things, you will now need to apply for universal credit.
If you already get the severe disability premium you might be able to get an extra payment to help with the move to universal credit. You can find out more here.
Get personal advice if you are currently getting any of these benefits and your circumstances change.
If you are an employee you are usually entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for up to 28 weeks. Many employers also have a company sickness policy that can be more generous than SSP. You should be able to find this in your contract, employee handbook or by asking your manager or HR team.
You can find out more about Statutory Sick Pay on the government website here.
If you have extra living costs because of a disability or health condition you might be able to get the personal independence payment. This is often called “PIP”.
If you live in Scotland, you will need to apply for adult disability payment instead. You can find out more about this here. If you are in Scotland and are already getting personal independence payment you will automatically be moved to adult disability payment by the summer of 2024. You can find out more about moving to adult independence payment here.
Who can get PIP?
You might be able to get PIP if all of these things apply:
- you are over 16
- you are under the state retirement age (unless you have had PIP before)
- you have difficulty doing some specified everyday tasks or getting around
- you expect these difficulties to last at least 12 months from when they started
If you have been told by a medical professional that you might have less than 12 months to live you can get PIP more quickly. You will not have to have a face-to-face assessment.
In this case you will need to ask the medical professional to fill in a form called an SR1. They should fill this in and either give it to you or send it straight to the department for work and pensions (DWP). You should call the PIP new claims phone line to start your claim.
The PIP assessment and reviews
If you are claiming PIP for the first time, someone will assess how difficult you find daily tasks. They will decide if you will get the payment and how much money you will get.
The amount of money you get for PIP is reviewed after a set amount of time. When you first get PIP you should be told when you will have a review.
When the review is due you will be sent a letter which will tell you what to do. You might have to have another assessment as part of your review.
What the assessors will look at
There are two parts to the PIP. You might get a payment for one or for both of these.
The daily living part is for help with everyday life. The assessment will look to see if you need help to do any of these things:
- eat, drink or prepare food
- wash and use the toilet
- get dressed and undressed
- read and communicate with others
- manage medicines and medical treatment
- make decisions about money
- socialise and be around other people
The mobility part is for help with getting out or moving around. The assessment will look to see if you need help to do any of these things:
- work out a route and follow it
- move around
- leave your home
Difficulties with mobility do not have to be because of a physical disability. They could also be due to a learning difficulty or mental health condition.
The assessment will look at how difficult you find the daily living and mobility tasks. For each task they will look at:
- if you can do the task safely
- how long it takes you
- how often your condition affects this task
- if you need extra equipment or help from someone, including a family member
If your claim is successful this information will be used to decide:
- if you will get the daily living part or the mobility part or both
- for each part, if you will get the lower weekly rate or the higher weekly rate
For example, you might get the lower weekly rate for the daily living part. And the higher weekly rate for the mobility part.
Make sure you tell the assessor about all the difficulties your condition causes. Even if you are managing to cope with them at the moment. Or they are only a problem some of the time. If you need help to do some things, for example from a family member, tell the assessor.
How to make a claim for PIP
- In England and Wales you can call the PIP new claims phone line on 0800 917 2222.
- Other ways to start a claim in England and Wales.
- In Northern Ireland you can call 0800 012 1573.
- Other ways to start a claim in Northern Ireland.
More detailed information on PIP
Universal Credit is the main benefit for adults under the state pension age. You may be entitled to it if you have a low income. This includes people who cannot work because of a health condition.
Who can claim Universal Credit?
To claim universal credit you must:
- be over 18 and under state pension age
- live in the UK
- have £16,000 or less in money, savings or investments
If you live with a partner, you must make a joint claim for Universal Credit. Even if only one of you is eligible. Your partner’s income and savings might affect how much money you will get from Universal Credit.
If you or your partner are getting Pension Credit this will stop when you make a claim for Universal Credit. You will probably get more money by staying on Pension Credit. But get advice on what is best in your case.
How does my medical condition affect Universal Credit?
If you cannot work because of a disability or medical condition, you may be able to get extra money through Universal Credit.
Some people will get this automatically. But usually you will have to provide a “fit note” from a healthcare professional. You will then have to fill in a form called a “work capacity questionnaire” or “UC50”. This can be quite complicated, so set aside time to do it and take breaks if you need to. You can find out a lot more information about the work capability form and how to fill it in on the citizens advice website here.
You may then need to have a “Work Capability Assessment”. This will be an appointment with a medical professional. They will ask you questions and might want to examine you.
The assessment is used to decide if you are:
- able to look for work now
- not able to work now but will be in the future (limited capability for work or LCW)
- not able to work or get ready to work (limited capability for work -related activity or LCWRA)
You can find out more about the assessment on the citizens advice page here.
How much money will I get from Universal Credit?
There are two parts to Universal Credit. A “standard allowance” and a group of extra amounts.
The basic amount of money you can get from Universal Credit is called the standard allowance. This depends on:
- Your age (the rate is slightly lower for people under 25)
- If you live with a partner
You can find the current rates on the government page here.
Your standard allowance might be reduced
- If you or your partner work, this will depend on how much you earn.
- If you have other income, for example from a pension.
- If you have more than £6000 in money, savings or investments.
- In some cases where you owe money for things like council tax, child maintenance or overpayments of benefits Find out more here.
On top of the standard allowance you might be entitled to more money
- If you have children.
This amount will be higher if any of your children are disabled or if you pay for childcare from a registered provider. Find out more here
- If you have a disability or health condition that means you have “limited capacity for work and work related activity”.
You will need to fill in a “capacity for work” form. You may need to do a “work capacity assessment” Find out more here
- If a medical professional has said that you might have less than 12 months to live.
- If you spend more than 35 hours a week caring for someone who gets a health or disability benefit.
- If you need help with housing costs.
This includes help with private, council or housing association rent. And help with service charges if you own a leasehold property. Find out more here
If your circumstances change
If there are any important changes in your life you must report these using your Universal Credit account. This is really important. You could have to pay a penalty or be taken to court if you do not. How a change affects your Universal Credit will depend on several things, so it’s a good idea to get personal advice.
Changes you must report include:
- changes to your health condition
- stopping work
- starting a new job
- moving in with your partner
- changes to your rent
For a longer list, and information on how to report the change go to the government website here.
More detailed information about Universal Credit
- Citizens advice. Lots of information, including help if you are having problems with your claim.
- Government website more information about Universal Credit here
How to claim Universal Credit
You might be able to claim ESA If you have a disability or health condition that affects how much you can work.
Who can claim ESA?
You cannot claim ESA if you are getting statutory sick pay. But you can apply for ESA up to three months before your statutory sick pay ends. The application process can take several months. So it is worth applying early if you think you might not be well enough to return to work.
You might be able to claim ESA if all of these apply:
- you are an adult under the state pension age
- your ability to work is limited because of an illness or disability
- you are not getting statutory sick pay
- you have paid or been credited enough class 1 or 2 National insurance contributions in the last 2 full tax years before you claim
You can check on your national insurance contributions here. You will need to have a “fit note” from your doctor to apply for ESA.
You may have to have a “work capability assessment”. If you need an assessment, you will be sent a letter telling you to fill in a “capability for work questionnaire”. You might then have to have an appointment for a “work capacity assessment”. If you are also claiming Universal Credit you will have one “work capacity assessment” for both these claims. You ca find more detailed information on filling in the form and the assessment on the citizens advice page here.
In some cases you can apply for ESA while you are working. You can see the current rules about this here.
How much money will I get from ESA?
Most people will get paid an “assessment rate” for 13 weeks while your ESA claim is being looked at. The amount you will receive is a little bit higher if you are over 25.
Once this assessment is done you will be put into 1 of 2 groups
- The work-related activity group. If it is thought that you will be able to go back to work in the future.
- The Support group. If you can not work now and are not expected to prepare for work in the future.
People in the support group get a higher amount of ESA.
You can see the current amounts for the assessment rate, work related activity group and support group on this page
Claiming other benefits if you get ESA.
If you are eligible, you can claim Universal Credit and ESA at the same time.
This will not increase the amount of money you get overall. But it can still be worth it.
If you are claiming both benefits, the amount of money you get for ESA will be taken off your Universal Credit payment. So you will get the same amount as you would have if you only got Universal Credit.
But claiming ESA means that you will get a different type of National Insurance Credit. This can be important if you want to claim some other types of benefit in future.
Enhanced disability premium
If you are in the support group for ESA you will also qualify for an extra payment. This is called the “enhanced disability premium”. You might also be able to apply for a higher level of payment called the “severe disability payment”. You can find out more about these here.
More detailed information about ESA
You might be able to claim new style JSA for up to 182 days if:
- you are looking for work
- you live in England, Scotland or Wales
It is different to the old income-based jobseekers allowance. If you are on the old scheme you can continue to receive that benefit until your circumstances change, or you move to Universal Credit.
The system is a bit different in Northern Ireland. You can find out about JSA in northern Ireland, and how to apply, here.
Who can get JSA?
There are a lot of rules about who can claim JSA. If you are not sure, contact Jobcentre Plus for advice.
To claim JSA you must be:
- 18 or over (there are some exceptions for 16 and 17 year olds)
- under the state pension age
- available for work
- not in full time education
- not working at the moment or working less than 16 hours a week
- not have an illness or disability that stops you working
You must also have worked as an employee. And paid Class 1 national insurance contributions in the last 2 to 3 years. Or have national insurance credits.
If you have savings these will not affect your claim. If you have a partner, their income and savings will not affect the claim.
How do I claim JSA?
You can find out how to apply for JSA here.
After you have applied you will be contacted within 14 days by The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). If you might be eligible for JSA you will have to have an interview at your local Jobcentre Plus office.
Once you are getting JSA, you will have to show that you are looking for work. You will also have to attend regular appointments at your local Jobcentre Plus.
If you are eligible, you can claim Universal Credit at the same time as JSA.
More detailed information about JSA
The state pension age can be different depending on the year you were born. It is also regularly reviewed by the government, so your state pension age may change in the future. You can check your current state pension age here.
Who can get Pension Credit?
To get Pension Credit you must be over state pension age and have a low income.
You might also be able to get extra help if you are a carer, severely disabled, or responsible for a child or young person.
You must live in England, Scotland, or Wales.
If you live in Northern Ireland you can also claim Pension Credit. But it is a little different. You can find information and how to apply here.
If you have a partner you have to apply as a couple.
How much money will I get from Pension Credit?
How much you will get is complicated and depends on lots of things including:
- any other money you are getting (your income)
- if you have a partner
- if you have savings
- some housing costs
- some other benefits
- if you are severely disabled
- if you have some types of caring responsibility
The government website has a calculator that you can use to see how much Pension Credit you could get. You can find this here.
You can also call the Pension Credit claim line on 0800 99 1234
Citizens Advice has more detailed information on how to work out if you might be able to claim Pension Credit here.
More information on Pension Credit
Who can get Attendance Allowance?
To claim Attendance Allowance you must be:
- over state pension age
- have a physical or mental disability that means you need someone to look after you
- have had this condition for at least 6 months.
You cannot get Attendance Allowance if:
- you live in a care home, and it is paid for by your local authority
- you already get any of these benefits:
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Adult Disability Payment
Some people will have to have an assessment to be able to claim Attendance Allowance. This will depend on your disability.
Attendance Allowance is not means tested. So it does not matter how much money you are getting from a pension or other income. Or if you have savings.
You can apply for Attendance Allowance even if you are already getting help. For example from a family member.
How much money will I get from Attendance Allowance?
How much money you can get from Attendance Allowance depends on how much help you need. There are 2 rates. The higher rate is for people who need help during the day and night.
If a doctor has told you that you might have less then 12 months to live, you will get the higher rate. You should apply for Attendance Allowance. And ask your doctor to fill in a form called an SR1. They can then either give the form to you or send it straight to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
If you are entitled to Attendance Allowance you might also be able to claim other benefits. It is worth getting personal advice to make sure you do not miss out on anything.
More information on Attendance Allowance
Carer’s Allowance is a benefit for people who spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone else. You do not have to be related to the person you are caring for. And you do not have to live with them. But if more than one person is caring for them, only one person can claim Carer’s Allowance.
Who can get Carer’s Allowance?
Carer’s Allowance is only available to people earning under a certain amount of money each week. You can find the current amount on this page.
If you earn less than this, you might be able to get Carer’s Allowance if all of these apply:
- you are 16 or over
- you spend at least 35 hours each week caring for the same person
- you are not in full time education
- you are not studying for more than 21 hours a week
Most people also have to live in England, Scotland or Wales.
The person you care for must already be getting a “qualifying benefit”. These include:
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Attendance Allowance
Exactly who can get Carer’s Allowance is complicated. You should get personal advice before claiming Carer’s Allowance. It can have an impact on other benefits that you and the person you care for are getting.
More information about Carer’s Allowance
Most people cannot make a new claim for Housing Benefit. You will need to apply for Universal Credit.
You might be able to get Housing Benefit if one of these things applies:
- you have reached state pension age and you are single
- you and your partner have both reached state pension age
- you or your partner have been getting Pension Credit since before May 2019
- you live in some types of supported, temporary or sheltered housing
But there are lots of exceptions to this. You can find a list of them here.
If you think you might be able to claim Housing Benefit you will have to apply to your local council.
More information on Housing Benefit
Citizens advice information on Housing Benefit. This includes information on how an extra bedroom might affect your benefit.
There is a long list of other benefits that can be claimed for specific need.
- Reductions in council tax.
- Support for caring for a child with a disability.
- Loans to help with mortgage interest costs.
- Cost of living support.
- Free prescriptions.
- Help with healthcare travel costs.
- Free TV licence.
- Bus passes and railcards.
You can get more information about these from:
Find out more about managing your money when you have a liver condition. Including information on cost of living support, insurance, and prescription costs.Find out more
Living with a liver condition
Living with a liver condition it is not just about diagnosis and treatment. We have information and support for many parts of your life that might be affected.Find out more
Our free nurse-led helpline can offer support with understanding your condition and navigating medical care. Please note, our nurses cannot give personal advice on benefits.Find out more
We would like to thank Tanya Bowyer from Denbighshire Citizens Advice for her help with reviewing this page.
Published: November 2023