Who can claim Income Support?

Last updated: 29 Jun 2021

Income Support has been replaced by Universal Credit for any new claims. If you try to make a new claim for Income Support you will be told to claim Universal Credit instead.

The rest of this article is only relevant if you are already in receipt of Income Support. 

Income Support is a benefit for people who are not working (or only working a few hours a week) and are not expected to look for work because of their circumstances.

To get Income Support (IS) you must be someone who does not have to be available for work. You must also not be working (or treated as working) 16 hours or more, and meet conditions about your income and savings. There are several groups of people who do not have to be available for work. The main groups of parents and carers who can claim Income Support if they meet the other conditions are:

  • Lone parents with a child under 5
  • Single foster carers. This would apply if you are fostering a child under 16 through a local authority or a voluntary organization, and you do not live with a partner.
  • Someone temporarily caring for a child by themselves. This would apply if you are responsible for a child under 16 who is living with you, and the child’s parent or person who usually looks after him is ill or temporarily out of the UK.
  • Someone who is on parental leave. This would apply only if you receive no pay from your employer and were already on Income Support before your parental leave.
  • Some people who are on paternity leave.
  • Someone who is looking after their partner or child while they are temporarily ill. Your partner or child must live with you.
  • Someone who cares for a disabled child or adult.
  • Pregnant women and women who have given birth in the last 15 weeks
  • Someone getting Statutory Sick Pay (NB you are not treated as working whilst on Statutory Sick Pay for Income Support, but you are treated as working for Working Tax Credit, so you may have too much income to get Income Support).

This advice applies in England, Wales and Scotland. 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.