Income support is a benefit to fill the gap between your needs and your income. The amount of income support you receive depends on your personal circumstances. If you are looking for work you should claim jobseeker's allowance.
Once you start getting income support you must tell the Social Security Agency as soon as your circumstances change.
Who can claim?
You can only apply for income support if:
- you are between 16 and 60 years old,
- you live in Northern Ireland,
- your income is below the level the government decides you need to survive.
You must also be:
- a lone parent living with your child,
- unable to work because you are ill,
- caring for a disabled person,
- a disabled person who can earn less because of your disability,
- pregnant within 11 weeks of the expected birth date.
People who can't claim income support
Even if you fall into one of the categories described above you usually won't be allowed to claim income support if:
- you live in a care home and have more than £16,000 in savings,
- your partner is over 60 and has more than £12,000 in savings,
- you are under 60 and you have more than £8,000 in savings,
- you are a full-time student,
- you work more than 16 hours per week,
- your partner works more than 24 hours per week.
How can I claim income support?
You apply for income support at your local Social Security or Jobs & Benefits office . You can also apply by telephone. The Social Security Office or Jobs & Benefits Office will give you an application form which you should complete and return within a month.
You will be paid income support from the date you first contacted the Social Security Office or Jobs & Benefits Office, if you return your completed application form within a month.
How much income support will I get?
The amount of income support you get depends on:
- your income,
- your savings,
- your personal circumstances.
For example, you will get more income support if you are responsible for children under 16.
How is income support paid?
Income support is paid to your bank account every week as part of the direct payment system.
What is direct payment?
Instead of order books and Giros, the Social Security Agency pays benefits into your:
- bank account,
- building society account,
- Post Office card account.
Contact your local Social Security Office or Jobs & Benefits Office if you don't have a suitable bank account.
What if my application is turned down?
Get advice immediately if you are not happy with any decision made on your application and want to ask for a review. It can be difficult to get decisions changed, but an adviser could help you increase your chances of getting income support.
If you want the the Social Security Agency to review the decision you must:
- apply in writing,
- apply within 28 days of the date of the decision,
- explain clearly the reasons why you think the decision was unfair.
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