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.

Eligibility

You can no longer make a new claim for Income Support. If you’re on a low income and need help to cover your living costs, you can apply for Universal Credit instead.

You may contact the Benefits freephone by ringing 0800 022 4250 for any queries you have regarding Income Support.

If you already get Income Support

People who meet the qualifying criteria below and already get Income Support can continue to do so, but must report any change in their circumstances (or those of their partner if they have one) immediately.

  • 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 to continue receiving Income Support 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.

If your circumstances change

Contact the Benefits Freephone number on 0800 022 4250 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

How much you can get

Income Support is made up of three parts:

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

Details of Income Support rates are available on Gov.uk

Premiums

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

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, contact your local Jobs and Benefits office immediately.

Further information is available at scamwiseni.

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. 

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