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Chapter 13: Income support
This chapter covers:
1. What is income support (here)
2. Who is eligible (here)
3. Basic rules (here)
4. Amount of benefit (here)
5. Claiming income support (here)
6. Challenging a decision (here)
7. Other benefits and tax credits (here)
Basic facts
– Income support provides basic financial support for people who are not expected to ‘sign on’ for work.
– Part-time students are eligible if they are a lone parent with a child under five, a carer, pregnant (and sick or nearly due), and in some other circumstances.
– Full-time students under 20 on non-advanced courses may be eligible if they are a parent, an orphan or estranged or separated from their parents, and in some other circumstances.
– Other full-time students are eligible if they are a lone parent with a child under five, and in some other circumstances.
– The amount is usually affected by any grant, loan or other income you may have.
1. What is income support
Income support (IS) provides basic financial support for people under pension age (see here) who are not expected to ‘sign on’ as available for work. Students who are lone parents with a child under five may be eligible for IS, as may some younger students on non-advanced courses who are estranged from their parents or who are parents themselves. Most other full-time students are not eligible. See here for which students can get IS.
Note: you cannot usually make a new claim for IS as it is in the process of being replaced by universal credit. However, an exception applies if you get, or got in the past month (and continue to satisfy the rules for it), a severe disability premium (see here) in your IS, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance or housing benefit. This exception ended on 26 January 2021.
The amount you get is based on your circumstances - eg, whether you have a partner or whether you (or your partner) have a disability or care for someone with a disability. The amount you get is usually affected by any grant, loan or other income you have.
2. Who is eligible
As new claims cannot usually be made (see above for exceptions), most students getting income support (IS) will be those who were already on IS before starting the course, and who are eligible for IS as a student. If you cannot claim IS, you may be able to get universal credit (UC) instead - eg, if you are a parent (see Chapter 18).
To qualify for IS, you must be in one of the groups eligible to claim and you must satisfy all the basic rules described on here.
Only certain groups of students are eligible for IS, depending on your age and your course. To check whether you can get IS if you are:
under 20 and in ‘relevant education’, see here; or
19 or over and a full-time student, unless you are aged 19 and count as being in relevant education, see here; or
under 19 in full-time advanced education, see here; or
studying part time, see here.
Under 20 in relevant education
Generally, you cannot get IS if you are under 20 and in ‘relevant education’, but there are exceptions.1s124(1)(d) SSCBA 1992
 
1     s124(1)(d) SSCBA 1992 »
What is relevant education
You count as being in relevant education if you are a ‘qualifying young person’ for child benefit purposes (see here) – ie, you are 19 or under and attending a full-time course of non-advanced education or an approved training course (see here) which you were accepted on, enrolled on or started when you were under 19.1Reg 12 IS Regs; s142 SSCBA 1992 If you are accepted on, enrol on or start a full-time course of non-advanced education on or after your 19th birthday, you are not in relevant education. The rules on here apply to you instead.
Full-time non-advanced education
Your course is classed as ‘full time’ for IS purposes if it is for more than 12 hours a week during term time. These 12 hours include classes and supervised study, but not meal breaks or unsupervised study either at home or at college.2Reg 1(3) CB Regs
‘Non-advanced education’ is anything below degree, Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Higher National Diploma (HND) level, and includes school-level courses.
 
Non-advanced courses
Advanced courses
National vocational qualifications (NVQ) levels 1–3
BTEC HNC or HND
GCSEs
Diploma of higher education
AS and A levels
Degree level
Postgraduate degree
You may still count as being in relevant education for a period after your course ends (see here).
 
1     Reg 12 IS Regs; s142 SSCBA 1992 »
2     Reg 1(3) CB Regs »
Who can get income support
If you are aged 16, 17, 18 (or, in some cases, 19 – see above), and in relevant education, you are eligible for IS if you are in one of the following groups.1Reg 13(2) and Sch 1B para 15 IS Regs
You are an orphan and no one is acting in place of your parent. You do not qualify if, for example, you are living with a foster parent or being looked after by the local authority.
You must live away from your parents or anyone acting in their place because you are estranged from them. Decision makers should believe you if you say you are estranged unless there is valid evidence that this may not be the case.2DWP guidance, ‘Making a Severe Hardship Decision’, paras 7 and 28, available at www.gov.uk. This guidance is for JSA but should equally apply for IS. If a decision maker questions what you say, s/he may, with your permission, seek further evidence.3Vol 4, para 20686 DMG It is possible to be estranged from a parent even if you do not both feel the same way about it.4CIS/4096/2005
You must live away from your parents because there is a serious risk to your physical or mental health, or because you are in physical or moral danger. Decision makers are advised to accept your own evidence of physical or moral danger unless there is stronger evidence to the contrary.5Vol 4, para 20693 DMG
You are living away from your parents and anyone acting in their place, they cannot support you financially, and:
they are chronically sick or physically or mentally disabled; or
they are in prison; or
they are not allowed to enter Britain.
You are a parent and your child lives with you.
You are a refugee learning English in certain circumstances (see here).
You have left local authority care and you have to live away from your parents or anyone acting in their place. However, 16/17-year-old care leavers normally get financial support from the local authority social services department, and you cannot get IS in relevant education unless you are a lone parent.6Reg 2 C(LC)SSB(S) Regs
Examples
Pete is 17 and studying cookery full time leading to an NVQ level 2. His father is in prison and his mother is chronically ill. Neither of them can support him financially and he does not live with them. He is eligible for IS.
Ginny is 18 and studying information technology for a BTEC. She is the mother of a two-year-old child and they both live with Ginny’s parents. She is eligible for IS.
Ahmed is 18 and studying full time for his A levels. He is a refugee whose parents live in Somalia. It would be dangerous for him to return home. Ahmed is eligible for IS.
Kelly is 16 and studying full time for A levels. She has lived on her own since her father told her to leave home. She is estranged from both her parents. She is eligible for IS.
Laurie is 17 and has left local authority care. She is undertaking a full-time NVQ in beauty therapy. She is a lone parent and so is not excluded from IS as a 16/17-year-old care leaver.
Once you reach your 20th birthday, you are no longer classed as being in ‘relevant education’ and cannot get IS under these rules. You may be able to continue to get IS as a full-time or part-time student, but only if you are in one of those groups who are eligible (see here and here).
In particular, your claim for IS may be able to continue if you are under 22 on a non-advanced course and without parental support – ie, you are in one of the first four groups in the list above.
If you cannot get IS, you may be able to claim UC instead. Otherwise, you may need to contact your college for discretionary financial assistance.
 
1     Reg 13(2) and Sch 1B para 15 IS Regs »
2     DWP guidance, ‘Making a Severe Hardship Decision’, paras 7 and 28, available at www.gov.uk. This guidance is for JSA but should equally apply for IS. »
3     Vol 4, para 20686 DMG »
4     CIS/4096/2005 »
5     Vol 4, para 20693 DMG »
6     Reg 2 C(LC)SSB(S) Regs »
Parents claiming for you
If you are in relevant education but are not in any of the above groups, you cannot get IS. Your parents may be able to get child benefit and UC (or child tax credit (CTC)) for you (see Chapters 8, 18 and 19).
If you get IS for yourself, the amount of your parents’ benefit may reduce, as:
any child benefit, UC or CTC they get for you stops;
any IS or income-based jobseeker’s allowance they get for you stops;1Reg 14(2) IS Regs; reg 76(2) JSA Regs
any working tax credit they get stops, unless there are other dependent children in the family or they qualify in another way.
 
1     Reg 14(2) IS Regs; reg 76(2) JSA Regs »
When a course ends
You count as being in relevant education if you have finished a course of non-advanced education and are enrolled or accepted on another such course.1Reg 3(2)(b) CB Regs This means you are still in relevant education during the summer vacation between courses. Otherwise, you still count as being in relevant education when you finish a course until the latest of the following dates, or until you turn 20 if that is earlier:
31 August after your 16th birthday;2Reg 4 CB Regs
for 16/17 year olds, 20 weeks after your course ends if you are registered with the Careers Service (or Careers Wales in Wales). This is the ‘extension period’ rule in child benefit (see here). Note: if you are an orphan, estranged from your parents, living away from your parents because of a risk to your health or because they cannot support you financially, or a care leaver, the requirement that someone must have received child benefit for you immediately before the period started does not apply;3Reg 13(2A)(b) IS Regs; reg 5 CB Regs
the last day in February, May, August or November following the date the course ends.4Reg 7 CB Regs
 
1     Reg 3(2)(b) CB Regs »
2     Reg 4 CB Regs »
3     Reg 13(2A)(b) IS Regs; reg 5 CB Regs »
4     Reg 7 CB Regs »
19 or over and a full-time student
If you are a full-time student aged 19 or over, whether in non-advanced or advanced education, you cannot usually get IS during your ‘period of study’, but there are exceptions.1Reg 4ZA(2) IS Regs If you are aged 19 and in relevant education, you come under the rules above.
Period of study
The ‘period of study’ starts on the first day of the course and ends on the last day of the course – ie, the last day of the final academic year.2Regs 2(1), definition of ‘period of study’, and 61(1), definition of ‘last day of the course’, IS Regs It only ends earlier than this if you abandon your course or are dismissed from it, in which case it ends on the day that happens. You are within your period of study during all vacations and, for sandwich courses, during periods of work placements. In your first year, you do not count as a student at all until you first start attending or undertaking the course.3Reg 61(2)(b) IS Regs So if the course has already begun, you are not excluded from IS as a student until the day you actually start.
 
1     Reg 4ZA(2) IS Regs »
2     Regs 2(1), definition of ‘period of study’, and 61(1), definition of ‘last day of the course’, IS Regs »
3     Reg 61(2)(b) IS Regs »
Who counts as a full-time student
You count as a ‘full-time student’ if you are ‘attending or undertaking a full-time course of study at an educational establishment’.1Reg 61(1), definition of ‘full-time student’, IS Regs There are two definitions of ‘full time’ that apply: the first covers mostly courses of advanced education; the second covers most courses of non-advanced education.
Advanced education. Your course is full time if it is classed as full time by the institution. If the institution describes the course as full time, you need convincing evidence to persuade the DWP otherwise, bearing in mind that what matters is the course itself rather than the hours you attend.2R(SB) 40/83; R(SB) 41/83 This definition covers all courses of advanced education funded, in whole or in part, by the government, and any courses of non-advanced education that are not wholly or partly funded by the government at a further education (FE) college.
Non-advanced education. Your course is full time if it involves more than 16 hours a week classroom or workshop learning under the direct guidance of teaching staff.3Reg 61(1)(c), definition of ‘full-time course of study’, IS Regs What matters is the number of hours specified in a document signed by the college. This is often called a ‘learning agreement’, but your college may refer to it by some other name. This definition applies if you are at an FE college, not undertaking a higher education course and your course is fully or partly funded by the government.
 
Sandwich courses
You count as a full-time student if you are on a sandwich course. A ‘sandwich course’ is made up of alternate periods of work experience and full-time study at college or university, where the study periods add up to at least 18 weeks in the year.4Reg 61(1), definition of ‘sandwich course’, IS Regs
Work experience includes periods of employment abroad for modern language students whose course is at least half composed of modern language study.
Initial teacher training courses are not treated as sandwich courses.
 
Modular courses
A ‘modular course’ is one that is made up of two or more modules and you are required to do a certain number to complete the course.5Reg 61(4) IS Regs If you are attending or undertaking part of a modular course that is full time according to the rules described above, you are regarded as being a full-time student for the duration of that module, from the day it begins until the last day of registration on the module (or earlier if you abandon the course or are dismissed from it). This includes all vacations during the module on which you are registered and, except for the final module, the vacation immediately following it. It also includes periods when you are attending the course to do re-sits. If the modular course allows you to undertake some modules on a part-time basis, you are not excluded from IS while you are studying part time.
 
Postgraduates
If you are a postgraduate, the law is not clear on whether you still count as a student during the period at the end of your course when you are writing up your thesis. DWP guidance says someone is ‘not a full-time student during the period after the end of the course when they are expected to complete any course work’.6Vol 6, para 30238 DMG If you are refused IS, consider appealing. You could try arguing that you are no longer attending or undertaking a course.
 
1     Reg 61(1), definition of ‘full-time student’, IS Regs »
2     R(SB) 40/83; R(SB) 41/83 »
3     Reg 61(1)(c), definition of ‘full-time course of study’, IS Regs  »
4     Reg 61(1), definition of ‘sandwich course’, IS Regs »
5     Reg 61(4) IS Regs »
6     Vol 6, para 30238 DMG »
Who can get income support
You can get IS if you are:1Reg 4ZA(3) IS Regs
a lone parent (see here);
a single foster parent (see here);
in a couple, your partner is also a full-time student and you have a child (but you can only get IS in the long vacation – see here);
a refugee learning English (see here);
on a non-advanced course, under 22 and without parental support (see here).
 
Lone parents
To qualify as a lone parent, your youngest child must normally be under age five (you can also qualify if you are under 18, regardless of your youngest child’s age).2Sch 1B para 1 IS Regs; s137 SSCBA 1992 Once your youngest child reaches her/his fifth birthday, you no longer count as a lone parent and your IS stops.
 
Examples
Julie is studying full time for a degree in chemistry. She is a lone parent with a three-year-old child. She is eligible for IS.
 
You may be required to attend work-focused interviews if your youngest child is aged one to four, and to undertake work-related activity if your youngest child is aged three or four.
If you are a lone parent and your child is above the age at which you count as a lone parent for IS, but is under 20 and a qualifying young person (see here), in certain circumstances you can get IS during the summer vacation. You must be in one of the other groups of people who are eligible for IS, such as a carer (see here), and you must be eligible to make a new claim for IS (see here).
 
Single foster parents
You are eligible if you are a single foster parent with a child under 16. This includes kinship carers who are caring for a ‘looked-after’ child (sometimes referred to as ‘approved kinship carers’).
Example
Emelia is studying full time for an HND in social care. She is single and fosters a 13-year-old boy. She is eligible for IS.
 
Couples
If you have a child and your partner is also a full-time student, you are not excluded from IS in the summer vacation.3Reg 4ZA(3)(c) IS Regs To be eligible, you must be in one of the groups of people who can get IS (eg, a carer), listed under ‘studying part time’ on here. Your child must be under 16, or under 20 and still a qualifying young person (see here). During term time and short vacations, you are not eligible for IS.
If your partner is not a full-time student or is a part-time student, s/he is not excluded from IS and can get IS for you as well as for her/himself whether or not you have a child. S/he can get IS throughout the year, not just in the long vacation. To be eligible, s/he must be in one of the groups of people who can get IS listed on here.
 
Refugees
Your English course must be more than 15 hours a week and aimed at helping you get work. You must have refugee status and you must have been in Britain for a year or less when your course starts. Payment of IS is limited to nine months.4Sch 1B para 18 IS Regs
 
Under 22 without parental support
To qualify, you must be on a full-time course of non-advanced education on which you were accepted, enrolled or started before you turned 21.5Sch 1B para 15A IS Regs If you turn 21 on your course, you continue to be eligible. In addition, you must:
be an orphan, and no one is acting in place of your parent; or
live away from your parents, or anyone acting in their place, because you are estranged from them; or
live away from your parents because there is a serious risk or danger to you; or
live away from your parents. They must be unable to support you financially and be sick or disabled, in prison or not allowed to enter Britain.
For more details, see the first four groups who are eligible for IS in relevant education listed on here.
 
1     Reg 4ZA(3) IS Regs »
2     Sch 1B para 1 IS Regs; s137 SSCBA 1992 »
3     Reg 4ZA(3)(c) IS Regs »
4     Sch 1B para 18 IS Regs »
5     Sch 1B para 15A IS Regs »
Under 19 in full-time advanced education
If you are under 19 and in full-time advanced education rather than in non-advanced education, the rules are the same as for those aged 19 or over. You count as a full-time student if you are ‘attending or undertaking a full-time course of advanced education’.1Reg 61(1), definition of ‘full-time student’, IS Regs What is or is not a full-time course is the same as for over-19 year olds (see here). Only some students can get IS. The groups who can get IS are the same as for full-time students aged 19 or over (see here).
 
1     Reg 61(1), definition of ‘full-time student’, IS Regs »
Studying part time
Part-time students can get IS under the usual rules without restriction. You must satisfy all the basic rules (see here) and you must be in one of the groups of people who are eligible for IS. In brief, these are:
lone parents under age 18 (regardless of the child’s age) or lone parents with a child under five;
some young people up to age 25 on youth training schemes;
carers who get carer’s allowance or care for someone who gets attendance allowance, the middle or highest rate of the disability living allowance care component, or the daily living component of personal independence payment;
pregnant women from 11 weeks before to 15 weeks after the birth (or earlier if they are incapable of work because of pregnancy);
single foster parents of children under 16 or with a child placed for adoption, or people looking after a child while their partner is abroad or if the parents are temporarily ill, or away temporarily;
some people on unpaid paternity or parental leave;
people caring for a family member who is temporarily ill;
refugees on English courses in their first year in Britain;
people entitled to statutory sick pay;
people appealing against a decision that they are not incapable of work;
people who are incapable of work, but only if they already get incapacity benefit (IB);1Regs 1(4) and 2(1) ESA(TP) Regs
people who are registered or certified as blind, but only if they already get IB.
For more details of all the groups of people who are eligible for IS, see CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.
 
1     Regs 1(4) and 2(1) ESA(TP) Regs »
What counts as part time
You are regarded as a part-time student if you are not a full-time student. If you are under 20 and in relevant education, see here for who counts as full time. If you are in advanced education at any age or you are 19 or over and in non-advanced education (and not a 19 year old in relevant education), see here for who counts as full time.
If you are at an FE college studying a non-advanced course (see Chapter 1), the DWP may ask you for a learning agreement to show that the course is part time – ie, no more than 16 classroom hours. Your college can provide you with this.
DWP guidance says that students on Open University courses are part time.1Vol 6, para 30132 DMG
Example
Betty is a carer for her disabled mother and has been getting IS on this basis for two years. She starts studying at college 12 hours a week towards an NVQ. She continues to be eligible for IS.
 
1     Vol 6, para 30132 DMG »
3. Basic rules
As well as being a student who is eligible, to qualify for income support (IS) you must also satisfy all the following conditions.1s124 SSCBA 1992
You are aged 16 or over.
You have not reached pension age. If you have reached this age, you may be eligible for pension credit (PC) instead. Pension age reached 66 in October 2020. See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for more details.
You are not working 16 hours or more a week. If you are working 16 hours or more, you may be eligible for working tax credit instead (see here).
Your partner is not working 24 hours or more a week.
You are present in Great Britain, satisfy the ‘habitual residence’ and ‘right to reside’ tests, and are not a ‘person subject to immigration control’. (You can sometimes be paid IS for the first four or eight weeks you are outside Britain.) These terms are explained in CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook. Further advice is available from UKCISA (see Appendix 2).
You have no more than £16,000 capital.
Your income is less than the set amount the law says you need to live on (known as your ‘applicable amount’ – see here).
 
1     s124 SSCBA 1992 »
4. Amount of benefit
The amount of income support (IS) you get depends on your and your partner’s circumstances. The amount also depends on your income and capital. Go through the following steps to work out the amount of IS to which you are entitled.
Step one: capital
If your capital is over £16,000, you cannot get IS (see here). Some kinds of capital are ignored. For details, see CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.
Step two: work out your applicable amount
This is an amount for basic weekly needs. It is made up of:
personal allowances (see here);
premiums (see here);
housing costs (see here).
Step three: work out your weekly income
Chapter 22 explains how your loan, grant or other income is taken into account and how to work out your weekly income.
Step four: deduct weekly income from applicable amount
If your income is less than your applicable amount, IS equals the difference between the two.
If your income is the same as or more than your applicable amount, you cannot get IS. You may be able to claim again (see here) if your income goes down – eg, during the long vacation.
 
Example
Karen is 23 and a full-time, second-year undergraduate student and a lone parent of Penny, aged two. She gets a tuition fee loan of £9,250, plus a loan for living costs of £6,597, a special support loan of £3,893, a parents’ learning allowance of £1,766 and a childcare grant of £85 per week. Her only other income is child benefit of £21.05 a week, child tax credit (CTC) of £64.82 a week and personal independence payment (PIP) of £59.70 a week.
During the academic year September 2020 to June 2021:
Step oneKaren has no savings or capital.
Step twoHer applicable amount is:
Personal allowance for herself £74.35
Disability premium £34.95
Severe disability premium £66.95
Total applicable amount £176.25
Step three Her weekly income is:
Loan £130.57
The special support loan, parents’ learning allowance and childcare grant are disregarded. Her loan (less certain disregards) is divided over the 42 weeks of the academic year (see Chapter 22). Child benefit, CTC and PIP are disregarded.
Step fourHer income is £45.68 below her applicable amount, so she can get IS of £45.68 a week from September 2020 to June 2021.
 
During the long vacation from June 2021 to September 2021:
Step two At 2020/21 rates, Karen’s applicable amount is £176.25 (as above).
Step three Her weekly income for IS purposes from the end of June 2021 to the beginning of September 2021 is nil. This is because her loan only counts as income during the academic year. Child benefit, CTC and PIP are disregarded.
Step four From the end of June 2021 to the beginning of September 2021 her weekly IS is £176.25. Karen’s IS should increase from the end of June.
Applicable amount
Work out your applicable amount by adding together your personal allowances, premiums and eligible housing costs. Benefit rates are uprated in April each year.1s11 WRWA 2016 It is usually possible to find out the new rates from the beginning of December. Check the DWP website at gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-work-pensions for a press release on social security uprating. The amounts in this Handbook are from April 2020.
 
1     s11 WRWA 2016 »
Personal allowance
Your personal allowance is made up of the following.1Sch 2 para 1 IS Regs
One personal allowance at either the single, lone parent or couple rate depending on your situation. The amount depends on your age.
 
Circumstances
£ per week
Conditions
Single
Under 25
58.90
No special conditions.
25 or over
74.35
No special conditions.
 
Lone parent
Under 18
58.90
No special conditions.
18 or over
74.35
No special conditions.
 
Couple
Both aged 16–17 (certain cases)
89.00
You get this rate if:
– you or your partner are responsible for a child; or
 
– you and your partner would be eligible for IS or income-related employment and support allowance (ESA) if you were single; or
 
– your partner is eligible for income-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) or severe hardship payments of JSA.
Both aged 16–17 (everyone else)
58.90
For everyone else who cannot get the higher rate.
One aged 16–17, one 18 or over
116.80
The younger partner:
– is eligible for IS or income-related ESA, or would be if s/he were single; or
 
– is eligible for income-based JSA; or
 
– is entitled to severe hardship payments of JSA.
One aged 16–17, one 18–24
58.90
For those who are not eligible for the rate above.
One aged 16–17, one 25 or over
74.35
For those who are not eligible for the rate above.
Both aged 18 or over
116.80
No special conditions.
 
1     Sch 2 para 1 IS Regs »
Premiums
Qualifying for premiums depends on your circumstances.
You can qualify for either one, but not both, of the following.
Disability premium of £34.95 (£49.80 for a couple). You get a disability premium if you get:1Sch 2 paras 11 and 12 IS Regs
disability living allowance (DLA);
PIP;
long-term incapacity benefit (IB);
severe disablement allowance;
working tax credit with a disabled worker or severe disability element;
war pensioner’s mobility supplement;
constant attendance allowance;
exceptionally severe disablement allowance.
You also qualify if:
you are certified as severely sight impaired or blind, and for 28 weeks after coming off the register; or
you are terminally ill and have been entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP) for at least 196 days; or
you have been receiving a disability premium since before October 2008 because of incapacity for work.
If you are the IS claimant and you have a partner, you get the disability premium if s/he gets any of the qualifying benefits or is blind.
Pensioner premium of £148.40 for couples. People who have reached pension age claim pension credit (PC) (see here) rather than IS. However, you get a pensioner premium if you are under this age and getting IS and you have a partner who has reached this age.2Sch 2 paras 9, 9A and 10 IS Regs
In addition, you can qualify for any, or all, of the following.3Sch 2 para 6 IS Regs
Carer premium of £37.50. You get a carer premium if you are entitled to carer’s allowance (CA) (see here). If you are entitled to CA but not paid it because it overlaps with another benefit (eg, IB), you still qualify for a carer premium. You get two carer premiums if both you and your partner qualify.
Enhanced disability premium for an adult of £17.10 (£24.50 for a couple). You get this premium if you get the highest rate of the DLA care component or the enhanced rate of the PIP daily living component.4Sch 2 paras 13A and 15(8) IS Regs
Severe disability premium of £66.95. This is a premium for severely disabled people who live alone, or can be treated as living alone. You qualify for this premium if you get the middle or highest rate of the DLA care component, or the standard or enhanced rate of the PIP daily living component, and no one gets CA for looking after you. You do not get it if you live with another person aged 18 or over (eg, a friend or parent), unless s/he is separately liable for rent, or you only share a bathroom or hallway, or in some other circumstances.5Sch 2 para 13 IS Regs See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details. If you have a partner, you do not qualify unless s/he also qualifies in her/his own right or is severely sight impaired or blind. If you both qualify, you get two premiums.
 
1     Sch 2 paras 11 and 12 IS Regs »
2     Sch 2 paras 9, 9A and 10 IS Regs »
3     Sch 2 para 6 IS Regs »
4     Sch 2 paras 13A and 15(8) IS Regs »
5     Sch 2 para 13 IS Regs »
Housing costs
IS can include amounts for certain service charges if you own your home.
If you own your own home and get IS, you may be able to get a loan from the DWP to help with the cost of your mortgage interest payments,1Reg 3 LMI Regs repayable when you sell your home or on your death. Payments are usually made directly to your mortgage lender. Usually help only starts once you have been getting IS for 39 weeks, although there are some exceptions to this. Note: these loans are not part of your IS.
Normally you have to live in the home you own to get a loan for mortgage interest, but there are exceptions for full-time students (and some others). You can still get a loan for mortgage interest if you have moved elsewhere to study but are not paying rent or mortgage at the term-time address. If you pay for both places, you can get a loan for both if you are a couple and it is unavoidable that you live in two separate homes. Otherwise, you can get a loan if you are away from your home temporarily and have not let it out and are not likely to be away for more than 52 weeks.2Sch 3 para 4 LMI Regs
You must claim universal credit (see Chapter 18), or, in some cases, housing benefit (see Chapter 12) for help with your rent.
For more details, see CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.
 
1     Reg 3 LMI Regs  »
2     Sch 3 para 4 LMI Regs »
5. Claiming income support
If you can still claim income support (IS) (see here), claim as soon as you can. There are only very limited situations in which backdating is allowed.
To start your claim, contact Jobcentre Plus on 0800 169 0350 (textphone 0800 023 4888).
When you call, details of your claim are taken and a date for a work-focused interview is arranged (unless it is agreed that you do not need to attend one). A call-back can be arranged if a single call is not appropriate – eg, if you have language or hearing difficulties. You are sent a statement to check and sign, and you are told what evidence and information you should take to your interview or forward to the DWP. The work-focused interview is intended to help you into full-time work, even if you have no intention of working until you finish your studies, but you are under no obligation to look for work.
If you cannot, or do not want to, use the telephone to start your claim, you should still be able to claim in other ways. A claim form should still be accepted, which you can get from Jobcentre Plus, or at gov.uk/income-support/how-to-claim. It is important to let your Jobcentre Plus office know you want to claim IS, as otherwise you might lose benefit. You should return the form within one month of your initial contact.
Either member of a couple can make the claim for both, but whoever claims must be eligible in her/his own right.
Getting paid
Payment is usually made directly into your bank or building society. Which account it goes into is up to you. If you do not want your benefit to go into an account that is already overdrawn, give the DWP details of an alternative account if you have access to, or can open, one. If you do not have an account, you are usually expected to open one with a bank or building society.
If your claim is refused
Your claim may be unsuccessful for a variety of reasons, including if your student income is too high to qualify. However, you might find that you qualify in the long vacation because of the way your grant and loan are divided up through the year. So if you are turned down, claim again as soon as you think you might qualify (provided you are eligible to make a new claim - see here).
6. Challenging a decision
If you think a decision about your income support is wrong, you can ask the DWP to look at it again. This process is known as a ‘mandatory reconsideration’. Provided you ask within the time limit (usually one month), the DWP notifies you of the decision in a ‘mandatory reconsideration notice’. If you are still not happy when you get this notice, you can appeal to the independent First-tier Tribunal. If it was not possible to ask the DWP to reconsider the decision within a month, you can ask for a late revision (within 13 months), explaining why it is late. You can also ask the DWP to look at a decision again at any time if certain grounds are met – eg, if there has been an official error.
7. Other benefits and tax credits
Income support (IS) tops up other income you have to the level of your basic requirements (your ‘applicable amount’). Most other benefits you get are therefore taken into account as income when working out your IS. This means they reduce your IS pound for pound. Disability living allowance, personal independence payment and housing benefit (HB) are, however, always disregarded as income.
If you have children and get child tax credit (CTC), both CTC and child benefit are disregarded as income for IS.
Getting another benefit may reduce your IS, but might also mean you qualify for a premium with your IS (eg, getting carer’s allowance means you qualify for a carer premium), so you could be better off overall (although in this case, the person you care for could get less benefit – see here).
If you get IS and you pay rent, you are eligible as a student for HB (unless you are a care leaver aged 16 or 17).
IS is taken into account when calculating whether the benefit cap applies (see here and here).
Passported benefits
Provided you meet any other conditions, getting IS entitles you to:
free prescriptions
free dental treatment;
free sight tests;
vouchers for glasses;
Healthy Start vouchers and free vitamins;
social fund payments;
free school lunches from your local authority.
See Chapters 11 and 17 for details.

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