Income Support

Income Support is extra money to help people on a low income. It’s for people who don't have to sign on as unemployed. Whether you qualify or not and how much you get depends on your circumstances.

Specific conditions

You may be able to get Income Support if you meet all the specific conditions including:

  • you and your partner have no income or a low income
  • you’re working less than 16 hours a week
  • you haven’t signed on as unemployed

You can claim Child Tax Credit if you claim Income Support and have children.


From 16 January 2017, to qualify for Income Support you must be all of the following:

  • between 16 and Pension Credit qualifying age
  • pregnant, or a carer, or a lone parent with a child under five or, in some cases, unable to work because you’re sick or disabled
  • you have no income or a low income (your partner’s income and savings will be taken into account)
  • working less than 16 hours a week (and your partner works less than 24 hours a week)
  • living in Northern Ireland

You don’t need a permanent address, for example, you can still claim if you sleep rough or live in a hostel or care home. Find out more information about homelessness at the following link:

You might still qualify if you do unpaid voluntary work or go on parental or paternity leave.

Also, you qualify if you’re age 19 or younger, in full-time secondary education (including A levels) and one of the following:

  • a parent
  • not living with a parent or someone acting as a parent
  • a refugee learning English

You can also qualify up until the age of 21 if you’re one of the above, are orphaned or estranged from your parents and enrolled in education.

Important changes - lone parent obligations from 16 January 2017

The government has changed the rules for lone parents receiving Income Support. This is one of several changes to the benefit system to help people develop the skills for work and move into paid work.

From 16 January 2017 changes in the rules for Income Support mean that you cannot make a new claim or a repeat claim to Income Support on the sole grounds of being a lone parent, if your youngest child is five or older.

These changes 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.

If on 16 January 2017 you are already a full-time student or taking part in a full time course of training approved by the Department for Communities, you may be entitled to Income Support.

There may be other reasons why these changes will not apply to you. If you would like more information you can:

Or, you can speak to an adviser at your local Social Security or Jobs & Benefits office.

How to claim and how much you can get

You can claim Income Support by telephoning, writing or calling into your local Social Security or Jobs & Benefits office. You will need to tell them about your income, where you live and who lives with you. Continue reading to find out more, including how much you may get.

How to claim Income Support

Claiming by telephone

You can claim by telephoning or by getting a friend, relative or adviser to telephone your local Social Security or Jobs & Benefits office on your behalf. The address can be found in the phone book under Jobs & Benefits offices, JobCentres and Social Security Offices.

Claiming by writing

You can claim by writing or by getting a friend, relative or adviser to write to your local Social Security or Jobs & Benefits office on your behalf. The address can be found in the phone book under Jobs & Benefits offices, JobCentres and Social Security Offices.

In either case, you will be given/sent the detailed claim forms and a pre-paid envelope addressed to the Social Security or Jobs & Benefits office.

How much you can get

The amount of Income Support you can get is made up of three different parts:

  • personal allowances
  • premiums
  • payments to cover certain housing costs

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

From 6 April 2015

Type of person                                                                                                        

Weekly amount

Single person  
Aged 16 to 24  £57.90
Aged 25 or over £73.10
Lone parent  
Aged 16 to 17  £57.90
Aged 18 or over  £73.10
With both people under 18  £57.90
With one person under 18 and the other aged 18 to 24  £57.90
With one person under 18 and the other aged 25 or over  £73.10
With both people aged 18 or over  £114.85

For Income Support, 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.

How Income Support is paid

All benefits, pensions and allowances are paid into an account. This is the safest, most convenient and efficient method of payment.

Where you live

You can still claim Income Support if you're:

  • sleeping rough
  • living in a hostel
  • living in a care home

Young people who are being looked after by a Health & Social Care Trust can't get Income Support.

When you claim Income Support you must be in Northern Ireland and normally live here. If you have moved here to make a settled home, that counts as living here.

You must not be under immigration control.

There are some exceptions to these rules. Contact your local Social Security or Jobs & Benefits office to find out more.

Changes in your life

Tell the Social Security or Jobs & Benefits office straight away if something changes that may affect your Income Support.

For example, tell the Social Security or Jobs and Benefit office if you or your partner do any of the following:

  • 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

If you're not sure whether to report a change, do it anyway. If you don't, you could lose out on money you should get. Or you could be paid too much, and have to repay it. To find out more:

If you think your Income Support application decision is wrong

You can ask the Social Security or Jobs & Benefits office to look at their decision again:

When you won’t qualify

You won’t usually qualify 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 Trust
  • Social Security / Jobs & Benefits Offices

Fact sheets

You can read a handy fact sheet about the current rates of Income Support. Information about Income Support in is also available in alternative lanaguages. 

Information in alternative languages

العربية - Arabic

简体中文 - Chinese 

Latviešu valodā - Latvian

Lietuviškai - Lithuanian

Polski - Polish

Português - Portuguese

Español - Spanish

Apply for Income Support

The following applies only if you live in Northern Ireland. Income Support is a benefit for people under 60 on a low income and with limited savings. Information on Income Support can be easily accessed by calling the freephone number:

Use the links below to download and complete a claim form or contact your local Social Security / Jobs and Benefits office for a claim form. 

Download a form

Help for low earners

Help for people reclaiming Income Support when your circumstances have not changed:

Help to make sure that you are getting the right amount of Income Support.

Help if you are involved in a trade dispute while claiming Income Support.

You make a claim by printing out a claim form and filling it in. When you have filled in the form you can either:

Important: The date the claim form is received in a Social Security / Jobs and Benefits office is the date we can consider payment from - not the date you downloaded the claim form.

Ask for a form

You can get Income Support forms from your local Social Security/ Jobs and Benefit Office. To find your closest office click on the link below.

More useful links

Share this page


Would you like to leave feedback about this page? Send us your feedback