Universal Credit is being introduced in Northern Ireland on a phased geographical basis. If you live in an area where Universal Credit is available, you should make a claim for it instead of Income Support.
To qualify for Income Support all of the following need to apply. You must:
- be between 16 and Pension Credit qualifying age
- not be signed on as unemployed
- be either pregnant, a carer, a lone parent with a child under five or, in some cases, unable to work because you’re sick or disabled
- have no income or a low income (your partner’s income and savings will be taken into account)
- be working less than 16 hours a week and your partner working less than 24 hours a week (you may still qualify if you do unpaid voluntary work or go on parental or paternity leave
- live in Northern Ireland
- not be under immigration control
You don’t need a permanent address. You can still claim if you sleep rough or live in a hostel or care home.
Under 21 in secondary education
You will also be eligible if you’re aged 19 or younger, in full-time secondary education (including A levels) and are one of the following:
- a parent
- not living with a parent or someone acting as a parent
- a refugee learning English
While your secondary education finishes, you can continue to receive Income Support up until you turn 21 if you’re also orphaned or estranged from your parents.
People who are not eligible
You won’t usually be eligible for Income Support if you:
- have savings above £16,000
- need permission to enter the UK
- get Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance
- are a young person being looked after by a Health & Social Care Trust
- are a young person, and a parent or guardian is receiving Child Benefit for you
Lone parents receiving Income Support
If your youngest child is five or older you cannot make a new Income Support claim or a repeat claim on the sole grounds of being a lone parent.
This may not apply to you if you are entitled to Income Support for other reasons, for example, if you:
- have children who are entitled to the middle-rate or highest-rate care component of Disability Living Allowance
- receive Carer’s Allowance
- have a foster child living with you
Important changes - Income Support with dependant's allowance
You may receive dependant's allowance for children or young people in your household as part of your Income Support payment.
If you have a third or subsequent child (fourth, fifth and so on) born on or after 6 April 2017, you will not be paid extra for that child/children unless there are special circumstances.
More information is available at the following nidirect page:
How to claim
You can claim Income Support by phoning, writing to or calling into your local Jobs and Benefits office.
You can also download, print and complete one of the forms below and return it to the office detailed on the form or your local Jobs and Benefits office.
- Income Support A1 claim form and guidance notes (for people claiming for the first time)
- Income Support A1R rapid reclaim form (for people reclaiming when their circumstances have not changed)
- Income Support A2 review form (help to make sure you are getting the right amount of Income Support)
- Income Support B71D claim form for trade disputes (help if you are involved in a trade dispute while claiming Income Support)
The date the claim form is received in a Jobs and Benefits office is the date payment can be considered from - not the date you downloaded the claim form.
How much you can get
Income Support is made up of three parts:
- personal allowances
- payments to cover certain housing costs
The amount of the personal allowances are shown in the table below:
|Type of person||
|Single person aged 16 to 24||£57.90|
|Single person aged 25 or over||£73.10|
|Lone parent aged 16 to 17||£57.90|
|Lone parent aged 18 or over||£73.10|
|Couple with both people under 18||£57.90|
|Couple with one person under 18 and the other aged 18 to 24||£57.90|
|Couple with one person under 18 and the other aged 25 or over||£73.10|
|Couple with both people aged 18 or over||£114.85|
The amount may be less after your household income, pension and any savings of £6,000 or more are taken into account.
To get a better idea of how much Income Support you may get, use the online benefits adviser.
You could also get an Income Support premium. This is extra money based on your circumstances, for example, if:
- your partner is a pensioner
- you’re disabled or a carer
|Type of premium||Weekly amount|
|Family - lone parent||£17.45|
|Disability - single||£33.55|
|Disability - couple||£47.80|
|Pensioner - couple||£133.95|
|Enhanced disability premium - single||£16.40|
|Enhanced disability premium - couple||£23.55|
|Enhanced disability premium - disabled child||£25.48|
|Severe disability - single rate (lower)||£64.30|
|Severe disability - single rate (higher)||£64.30|
|Severe disability - couple rate (higher)||£128.60|
The benefit cap limits the amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can get. Some individual benefits aren’t affected but it may affect the total amount of benefit you get.
If your circumstances change
Tell the Jobs and Benefits office straight away if something changes that may affect your Income Support. This includes if you or your partner:
- move home (or other people move into or leave your home)
- change the account you pay benefits into
- change your income – including maintenance and part-time earnings
- work more or fewer hours
- become ill
- have to stay in hospital
- get more or less of other benefits
Appeal against a decision
You can ask the Jobs and Benefits office to look at its decision again if:
- your claim is turned down
- you think your benefit has been worked out wrongly
- Appealing against a benefits decision
Help with housing costs
If you receive Income Support and have a mortgage, remortgage or home loan, you may be able to get a loan to help towards the interest payments.
Child tax credit
You can still claim Child Tax Credit if you claim Income Support and have children.