Help for people on a low income

People affected by dementia on low incomes may be entitled for certain benefits. Find out what you may be entitled to.

Income support

Income support is a means-tested benefit to help people with basic living expenses. It is for people who have not reached pension age and who are not required to be available for work, such as carers.

You may be able to claim Income support if you have a low income and limited savings, or limited joint savings with a partner. Whether or not you qualify may depend on the number of hours you (and any partner) work each week. Income support can be paid in full or as a top up to other pensions and income. If you have a partner, you must claim Income support together.

Income support does not depend on National insurance contributions, but savings and income will be taken into account when the DWP assess your claim (including income from most benefits). Income from AA, DLA and PIP will be ignored when calculating weekly income, but savings over a certain amount usually mean you cannot receive Income support.

The amount of Income support paid varies according to age, existing income and savings, and entitlement to any available premiums. Premiums are awarded to people receiving certain disability benefits and carers receiving the Carer’s allowance, for example, so it is important to seek advice.

If you are eligible you will receive Universal credit instead of Income support when it is fully introduced in your area for new claims or when you are eventually moved from one of the legacy benefits to Universal credit. A carer amount will be included in Universal credit if you have ‘regular and substantial caring responsibilities’ – whether or not you get Carer’s allowance.

Unable to work?

If you are unable to work because of a disability or illness, you should claim ESA instead of income support.

Find out more

Social fund

The social fund makes payments to cover exceptional costs such as cold weather and winter fuel payments and funeral costs.

Cold weather payments

Cold weather payments are paid if the average temperature in your area falls – or is forecast to fall – to freezing point or below for seven consecutive days. These payments are made automatically if you are receiving some means-tested benefits including Pension credit and Income support.

Winter fuel payments

If you are at an eligible age, you will normally qualify for a winter fuel payment to help with the cost of fuel. The age at which people receive a winter fuel payment is rising because it is linked to the State pension age – see State pension. For current amounts see Care and mobility benefits: rates and thresholds.

This benefit is not means-tested or taxable, and will not affect any other benefits you are claiming. You should not have to make a claim if you received a payment last year and your circumstances have not changed. For more information, or to apply, contact the Winter fuel payment helpline (see Other resources).

How much are you entitled to?

Find out the current rates for cold weather and winter fuel payments.

See current rates

Funeral costs

If you are responsible for a funeral, you may be able to claim payment towards reasonable costs, providing you are the closest surviving relative and you are receiving certain benefits such as Income support, income-based Jobseeker’s allowance, income-based ESA, Universal credit or Pension credit. It is important to check your entitlement before making arrangements. You can claim up to three months after the funeral. The funeral payment often has to be repaid from the assets of the person who has died.

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