Getting help with mortgage interest payments

If you're a homeowner and get certain income-related benefits, you may qualify for help towards mortgage interest payments. This is called Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI). If you're eligible for SMI, it is paid as part of your benefit.

The Welfare Reform and Work (Northern Ireland) Order 2016 will result in changes to the benefits system. ‘How SMI could change from April 2018’ explains possible changes to Support for Mortgage Interest.

About Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI)

SMI can help towards mortgage interest payments:

  • for a mortgage
  • for a loan to buy
  • to improve your home

It cannot help you pay:

  • the amount you borrowed (only the interest on the mortgage is paid)
  • insurance policies
  • mortgage arrears

SMI is normally paid directly to your lender. There’s no guarantee that you will get SMI for a loan you take out.

How SMI is calculated

The interest rate used to calculate SMI is currently 2.61 per cent.

Excess payments

Some homeowners may have lower interest rates than the rate used to calculate SMI payments. This means they receive more SMI than needed to meet the payments due to their lender. These payments can only be credited to their mortgage account.

Eligibility

You may be eligible for SMI if you are a homeowner and are getting:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit

Conditions if you claim Income Support or Employment and Support Allowance

If you get Income Support or income-related Employment and Support Allowance:

  • it will be 39 weeks from the date you claim before you get SMI
  • you will be able to claim for mortgage interest on up to £200,000 of your mortgage
  • you will be able to claim SMI for as long as you receive Income Support or income-related Employment and Support Allowance

Conditions if you claim Jobseeker’s Allowance

If you get income-based Jobseekers Allowance:

  • it will be 39 weeks from the date you claim before you get SMI
  • you will be able to claim for mortgage interest on up to £200,000 of your mortgage
  • you can only get paid SMI for up to two years

Conditions if you claim Pension Credit

If you claim Pension Credit you will:

  • have no waiting period before you receive SMI
  • be able to claim for mortgage interest on up to £100,000 of your mortgage

Moving to Pension Credit from other benefits

If you already get SMI under the rules that apply to other benefits, you can continue to get help with your mortgage interest on up to £200,000 of your mortgage. This applies if you move onto Pension Credit within 12 weeks of ending a claim for:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance

You can continue getting SMI for as long as you remain entitled to Pension Credit.

Mortgage Interest Run On

You may get an extra four weeks' SMI if your Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance is going to stop because:

  • you start work of 16 hours or more per week
  • your hours of work increase to 16 per week
  • your partner starts work of 24 hours or more per week
  • your partner’s hours of current work increase to 24 per week

This is called the Mortgage Interest Run On. Find out if you qualify at the following nidirect page.

More information

For SMI queries and to check your eligibility, contact your local Social Security /Jobs & Benefits office, Employment and Support Allowance Centre or the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

How SMI could change from April 2018

As part of the changes in the Welfare Reform and Work (Northern Ireland) Order 2016, it is proposed that from April 2018, SMI will no longer be paid as part of your benefit. Instead, you may be offered a Support for Mortgage Interest loan (SMI loan) to help with your housing costs.

It is also proposed that from April 2018 the two year restriction on payment of SMI to those currently on Jobseeker's Allowance will be removed. If you receive SMI, you’ll get a letter before March 2018 telling you about the options available.

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