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.

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.

You'll also often deal with other agencies or government departments, such as the NI Housing Executive, Land & Property Services or HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

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.

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
  • employers
  • 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:

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).

Housing Benefit

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:

More useful links

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What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

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For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

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Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

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For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

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For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

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For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

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For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

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For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

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For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

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For queries or advice about rates, email LPSCustomerTeam@lpsni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.