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There are a large number of different benefits available.
The benefits system can seem daunting but there is plenty of help available. This ranges from online benefits calculators, which will tell you what benefits you might qualify for, to expert advisers who you can talk to for help and advice. You may also be entitled to help from your local authority with your housing costs or Council Tax.
As well as state benefits, there are also grants available from charitable organisations for people on a low income and other types of help such as schemes and grants to help towards your energy costs, water bills and energy efficiency measures.
Some state benefits are means-tested. This means the amount you get and whether you qualify at all depends on how much income and capital (savings and investments) you have.
Means-tested benefits include:
- Employment and Support Allowance (income-related)
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- Jobseeker’s Allowance (income-based)
- Universal Credit
- Pension Credit
It’s important to understand that the decisions you make about taking money from your pension pot may affect your entitlement to these benefits.
If you are below state pension age, the money you take out of your pension will count towards your income or capital. That means if you take money out of your pension, it may mean you receive less in means-tested benefits, or are not able to claim them. The amount left in your pension pot won’t count towards your income or capital.
If you are over state pension age, it’s more complicated. The government expects you to use the money in your pension to support yourself. So even if you leave your pension pot untouched, it can still be taken into account when working out if you’re entitled to means-tested benefits. And if you only take a small income from your pension pot, your entitlement to benefits may not be based on this amount but on an amount that the government thinks you could have taken. This is called your ‘notional income’.
You can find benefits calculators at:
To use the calculators, you’ll need accurate information about your:
- income, including your partner’s (from payslips, for example)
- existing benefits and pensions (including anyone living with you)
- outgoings (such as rent, mortgage, childcare payments)
- Council Tax bill
You can check what grants you might be entitled to at:
You can find out about the different benefits available at:
There are a number of organisations that can provide you with information and advice on the state benefits and grants you might be able to claim.
For advice on benefits, housing, jobs, legal issues and other practical help
Help for older people
- Age UK information and advice or call the helpline on 0800 678 1602
If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer
- Macmillan information and support or call the helpline on 0808 808 0000
If you have a terminal illness
- Marie Curie benefits entitlement or call the helpline on 0800 090 2309
If you’re caring for someone
- Carers UK financial support or call the helpline on 0808 800 7777
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