Welfare Benefits

 

The system around Welfare Benefits is complex and can be difficult to understand, whilst there are some general points which are listed below we would always recommend taking advice as there may be some exceptions to the rules.

As a general rule (there are exceptions) full time students cannot claim benefits as money/funding comes from Student Finance England or the appropriate funding body, part time students can claim benefits provided they meet the eligibility criteria. 

 

General Criteria

Is a benefit which provides a payment to claimants who can prove they are unemployed/working sufficiently few hours (less than 16 hours) and are actively looking for full time employment. To claim the benefit you must:
 
• Have savings of less than £16,000
 
• Be available for work (this must usually be for a 40 hours a week but in some circumstances this can be reduced)
 
• Be actively seeking work (this means carrying out a minimum number of job seeking activities that are agreed at the time of you claiming the benefit)
 

Full time students and JSA

Full time students cannot normally claim JSA, as a full time student you are not deemed to be available for work. There are a few exceptions to this:
 
• you're a lone parent
 
• you have a partner who is also a full-time student, and one or both of you is responsible for a child or young person
 
You may be able to claim JSA during the summer vacation providing you meet the general criteria listed above.
 
If you have a partner who is not a full time student they may be able to claim for you both but your income received from your funding body will be taken into account and can have an impact on the amount you are able to claim. If you are entitled to student funding the amount you are entitled to is taken into account you do not have to be in receipt of it.
 

Part time students and JSA

There is no general exclusion for part time students and as a result, providing the general criteria are met, you can make a claim for JSA. You may be able to claim JSA for a short period if you have made sufficient national insurance contributions or alternatively the DWP will conduct and income assessment, you will need to have a sufficiently low income for the benefit to be paid.
 
As a part time student you will be expected to fit your course around your job seeking activity and not the other way round. You would risk having your benefit sanctioned or stopped if you refuse to attend an interview or accept a valid job offer because of your course, you would be expected to rearrange you course.

 

 

General Criteria

Income support is paid to people on low income who are not able or expected to work. In order to claim IS you must meet the following conditions:
 
• Have savings of less that £16,000
 
• Must not be working more than 16 hours a week (if you have a partner they must not be working more than 24 hours)
 
• You must be in one of the qualifying groups
 
? Responsible for a child (this is limited and not everyone who has some responsibility for a child is eligible for IS. The biggest group is lone parents of children/a child under the age of 5)
 
? Sickness or disability (this is for existing claimants as ESA and/or DLA is now the appropriate benefit, see below)
 
? Carer
 
? Other qualifying groups exist but are less common
 
• If you are in a qualifying group then your income is then assessed to see if you qualify for the benefit.
 

Full time students and IS

You cannot normally claim IS if you are a full time student. The major exception is if you are a lone parent under the age of 5. You would still need to meet the other requirements and your student loan entitlement (not tuition fee loan) can be treated as income and can have an impact on your entitlement. You do not have to be receiving student loan for it to be considered as an income you merely have to be entitled to it.
 

Part time students and IS

There are no restrictions to part time students and claiming IS, you would simply go through the normal process and you would have to fit the general criteria listed above.

 

 

General Criteria

ESA is paid if you are unable to work due to a sickness or disability. In order to claim ESA you have to meet the following criteria:
 
• Must not be working more than 16 hours a week (if you have a partner they must not be working more than 24 hours)
 
• Pass the work capability assessment (WCA)
 
? WCA: The WCA requires you to attend an assessment centre where a medical professional will assess you against government descriptors to see if you have limited capability for work. There is a point scoring system and you are required to score a certain number of points (15) in order to be considered as having limited capability.
 
• If you pass the initial WCA you will then be placed into either the work-related activity group or the support group (your group dictates how much you can receive and what you have to do to remain entitled)
 

Full time students and ESA

Most full time students cannot claim ESA. In order to claim ESA whilst studying you must also be claiming Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP). You would still need to meet the other requirements and your student loan entitlement (not tuition fee loan) can be treated as income and can have an impact on your entitlement. You do not have to be receiving student loan for it to be considered as an income you merely have to be entitled to it.
 

Part time students and ESA

There are no restrictions to part time students and claiming IS, you would simply go through the normal process and you would have to fit the general criteria listed above.

 

 

DLA General criteria

DLA has two components (care and mobility) and is paid if you require help with either your care or mobility.
 
In order to get the care component you have to show that you require help with personal care, or supervision to avoid danger to yourself or others. There are three levels to the component and the level you receive is dependent on the amount of care required.
 
In order to get the mobility component you have to show that you have difficulty in getting around. This component is paid over two levels and depends on the severity of you inability to get around.
 

PIP General criteria

DLA has been replaced by PIP and new claims are being taken, if you are currently in receipt of DLA you will be migrated to PIP at some point over the next few years. PIP has two components (daily living and mobility) and requires you meet government descriptors and score a certain number of points in order to get the benefit.
 

Full time students and DLA/PIP

There are no restrictions for students with regards to DLA/PIP and if you meet the criteria then you qualify for the benefit.

 

 

Working and Child Tax Credits

General Criteria

Students with children are entitled to claim Child Tax Credit. Student loans and grants to meet the costs of tuition fees, childcare and other course-related costs are not treated as income in new claims for tax credits. However, the Adult Dependants' Grant will be taken into account as income.
 
To qualify for Working Tax Credit you must be in paid work so, in general, students will not be able to claim this credit unless they are responsible for looking after a child or young person or are disabled and are doing at least 16 hours a week of paid work. Students aged 25 or above who are working in a paid job for more than 30 hours a week may also be eligible.
 

Full time students and Tax Credits

There are no restrictions for students with regards to tax credits and if you meet the criteria then you qualify for the benefit.
 

Part time students and Tax Credits

There are no restrictions for students with regards to tax credits and if you meet the criteria then you qualify for the benefit.
 

Universal Credit

The government are currently in the process of introducing a raft of changes to the welfare benefits system. The changes include combining all income related benefits into one benefit called Universal Credit.
 
Universal credit is being rolled out in stages across the country. This process has started but the timetable for rollout has not yet been finalised.

 

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