Understanding the benefits system
The benefits system provides practical help and financial support if you are unemployed and looking for work. It also provides you with additional income when your earnings are low, if you are bringing up children, are retired, care for someone, are ill or have a disability.
If you are self isolating or have been diagnosed with COVID-19 do not visit your Jobs & Benefits office or medical assessment appointment under any circumstances.
Who pays benefits
The Department for Communities (DfC) manages most benefits through Jobs and Benefits offices.
Benefits and entitlements for pensioners are dealt with through the Pension Service which provides a face-to-face service for those who need additional help and support.
People of working age
Benefits and services for people of working age, for example Jobseeker's Allowance, are dealt with by Jobs and Benefits offices around Northern Ireland.
These offices can help you with:
- finding work
- starting your own business
- managing on a low income
If you cannot work because of an illness or disability visit the ill or injured benefits information page for more information. Illness or accidents caused by work are dealt with by Industrial Injuries Branch.
- Industrial Injuries Branch
- Employed or looking for work
- On a low income
- Ill or injured
- Jobs and Benefits offices
Pensioners and people planning for retirement
The Pension Service, which is part of DfC, provides services to:
- anyone planning for their retirement
- people approaching retirement
- people who've already retired
- pension providers and advisers
The Pension Service looks after State Pension and Pension Credit.
Families and children
Jobs and Benefits offices look after benefits and services for families, including those:
- bringing up children, including children with special needs
- managing on a low income, including help with health costs
- Jobs and Benefits offices
- expecting or bringing up children
The Child Maintenance Service is part of DfC and is responsible for running the child maintenance system - it assesses, collects and pays child maintenance
HM Revenue and Customs deals with Child Benefit, Guardian's Allowance and tax credits.
People with disabilities and carers
The Disability and Carers Service, which is part of DfC, is responsible for benefits and services for people who are sick or have a disability, and their carers (Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Carer’s Allowance).
- Financial support for people with disabilities
- Money matters
- People with disabilities
- Disability and Carers Service
Housing Benefit is dealt with by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) if you are a tenant, and by Land & Property Services if you are a homeowner.
Who can claim benefits
To qualify for a particular benefit you must meet the conditions that the government specifies. For example, to claim Child Benefit you must be responsible for bringing up a child.
To apply for a benefit you'll normally have to fill in an application form and provide supporting information.
How benefits are paid
Direct payment is the normal way benefits are paid. It is a safe, convenient and efficient method of payment that gives customers access to a wide range of financial services.
Where to get advice
Jobs and Benefits offices
If you're of working age, Jobs and Benefits offices can offer advice on the various benefits you can claim.
The Northern Ireland Pension Centre
If you're a pensioner or planning for retirement, contact The Northern Ireland Pension Centre for information on pensions and related benefits: