What can I claim if I am out of work?

Last updated: 29 Jun 2021

Coronavirus If you are not currently working due to coronavirus but you are still employed or self-employed, different advice may apply. Please see our page on financial support during the pandemic.

If you have worked recently and paid sufficient national insurance contributions, you may be able to claim new style Jobseeker’s Allowance (if you are able to look for work), or new style Employment and Support Allowance (if you cannot work because you are sick or disabled).  For JSA, you will need to have paid Class 1 national insurance and so this benefit may not available if you have been self-employed. These benefits can be claimed on their own and they are personal to you as the claimant – they are not affected by savings or the income of a partner. However, they can be reduced by occupational or personal pension payments and/or (in the case of JSA) part-time earnings.

If you’re not entitled to JSA or ESA, or these are not enough to live on, you may need to claim an income-based benefit which looks at your overall circumstances and any income you have coming in.

If you are under state pension age (or you have a partner under state pension age), you may be able to claim Universal Credit (UC). For any new claims, UC has replaced income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit and Housing Benefit, unless very limited circumstances apply (for example you are a ‘frontier worker’). If you claim UC, it will stop any of these benefits you were getting (for example, tax credits will stop), and you will not be able to return to these.

If you are in receipt of Tax Credits already, you may be able to claim or continue claiming Child Tax Credit for children who live with you. Any Working Tax Credit you got which depended on your working hours will stop four weeks after your job finishes.

If you are a carer for a disabled person, you may be able to claim Carer’s Allowance. You can claim this when you are over state pension age, but you cannot claim Carer’s Allowance at the same time as retirement pension. You may need to claim Universal Credit on top of your carer’s allowance in order to have enough to live on. However, if you already get Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit or tax credits, do not claim Universal Credit without getting advice as claiming it means these benefits stop.

Whatever benefits you are on, it is worth checking to see if you can get help with the council tax from Council Tax Reduction (help from your council to pay your council tax bill. They may also call it Council Tax Support).

State pension age depends on your date of birth. You can find out when you  would reach state pension age by looking on the  State Pension age calculator on the GOV.UK website.

If you are not sure what to claim, have a look at the benefits information on the GOV.UK website, or the benefits checker on the following websites: Entitledto or Turn2us.

This advice applies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. If you live in another part of the UK, the law may differ. Please call our helpline for more details.

If you have further questions and would like to contact our advice team please use our advice contact form below or call us.

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The information on the law contained on this site is provided free of charge and does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. If you are not a solicitor, you are advised to obtain specific legal advice about your case or matter and not to rely solely on this information. Law and guidance is changing regularly in this area.