Income Support

Income Support is extra money to help people on a low income. It’s for people who are not signed on as unemployed. Whether you are eligible for Income Support and how much you get depends on your circumstances.


Universal Credit has now been introduced across Northern Ireland, 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, Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit
  • 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.

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
  • premiums
  • payments to cover certain housing costs

Personal allowances

The amount of the personal allowances are shown in the table below:

Type of person                                                                                                        

Weekly amount

Single person aged 16 to 24  £58.90
Single person aged 25 or over £74.35
Lone parent aged 16 to 17  £58.90
Lone parent aged 18 or over  £74.35
Couple with both people under 18  £58.90
Couple with one person under 18 and the other aged 18 to 24  £58.90
Couple with one person under 18 and the other aged 25 or over  £74.35
Couple with both people aged 18 or over  £116.80

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 £17.60
Disabled child £65.52
Disability - single £34.95
Disability - couple £49.80
Pensioner - couple £148.40
Enhanced disability premium - single  £17.10
Enhanced disability premium - couple  £24.50
Enhanced disability premium - disabled child £26.60
Severe disability - single rate  £66.95
Severe disability - couple rate (higher) £133.90
Carer £37.50

Benefit cap

The benefit cap limits the amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to State Pension age can get. Some individual benefits aren’t affected but it may affect the total amount of benefit you get.

SMS messages

When claiming Income Support you may receive text messages (SMS) from the Department for Communities (DfC). They will always be clearly marked as DfC and will never ask you to give, or click a link to give, personal information or financial details by message or email.

If you’re concerned or unsure about any text messages (SMS) you receive from about Income Support you should contact your local Jobs and Benefits office directly. If you suspect you have received a fraudulent message as a scam, please contact your local Jobs and Benefits office immediately.

  • Further information is available at: scamwiseni

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 Department for Communities to look at its decision again if:

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.

Information in alternative languages

العربية - Arabic

简体中文 - Chinese 

Latviešu valodā - Latvian

Lietuviškai - Lithuanian

Polski - Polish

Português - Portuguese

Español - Spanish

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