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Claiming income support. How do I do it ?
In England, Wales and Scotland, you usually have to make a claim for Income Support by phone. There is a freephone number to use which is: 0800 055 6688 or textphone 0800 023 4888. There is also a Welsh language line number which is 0800 012 1888. You can also get a claim form (form A1) from the Department for Work and Pensions website at www.dwp.gov.uk, but you will have to print it off in order to sign it. Or you can claim online вЂ“ go to the DWP website at: www.dwp.gov.uk.
You may be able to get the claim form from your local Jobcentre Plus office but if you do go to the office, you’ll be encouraged to use a public telephone or a special telephone to make your claim.
In Northern Ireland, you claim Income Support from your local Jobs and Benefits Office or Social Security Office. You can download a claim form from the Department for Social Development website at: www.dsdni.gov.uk.
If you are reclaiming Income Support within 26 weeks of getting it and there has been no change in your circumstances, you can complete a simpler and shorter вЂRapid ReclaimвЂ™ form instead when you go to your local Jobcentre Plus office. This might apply if you have taken up a job or increased your hours but it has not worked out and you need to go back on benefit.
When you claim Income Support, you will have to provide your national insurance number, and the national insurance number of your partner if you are claiming as a couple. If you donвЂ™t know your national insurance number, but you think you have one, try to provide information that will help the office find your number. If you do not have a national insurance number, you will have to apply for one. To show that your number belongs to you, or to apply for a number, you will also have to provide evidence of your identity, for example, a birth certificate.
For information on how to apply for a national insurance number and on problems with proving your identity, see National insurance вЂ“ contributions and benefits.
You will have to provide other evidence as part of your Income Support claim, for example, evidence of your income. If you donвЂ™t have this available straight away, donвЂ™t worry as you can supply it afterwards, but it is important to do so within one month of your claim to get all the money you are entitled to.
If you have problems providing a national insurance number or any of the other evidence you are asked for, or if you would like help with making your Income Support claim, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB.
Getting Income Support backdated
You may be able to get some Income Support for a period before you make your claim if you could have claimed earlier and have reasons for claiming late. These have to be particular reasons laid down in law which are accepted by the benefits office, for example, you have language difficulties, or you were given wrong advice which made you think you would not get any money. Getting benefit for a period before you claim is called вЂbackdatingвЂ™. You will not get any backdated benefit just because you did not know that you could make a claim.
If you do have one of the accepted reasons for backdating your claim, your income support may be backdated by up to a maximum of one or three months depending on the reason you failed to claim earlier. You will have to show that you met the entitlement conditions throughout the period of backdating. You should explain that you are claiming backdated income support, and why, on your claim form.
If you want to claim backdated income support, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau.
Checks on Income Support, change of circumstances and fraud
You may commit a benefit fraud if you deliberately give incorrect or misleading information, or fail to report a change of circumstances. Even if you are not committing fraud, you can cause an overpayment which will have to be repaid. Your circumstances can be checked at any time while you are claiming and fraud officers can also get information about you from other government agencies and from your employer, bank or utility companies. Benefit fraud is a criminal offence and you can be prosecuted or asked to pay a penalty. If you are being investigated for benefit fraud, your benefit will be suspended. If you are convicted of benefit fraud more than once, your benefit can be reduced or stopped in the future.
If you are worried about whether you might be suspected of fraud, you are under investigation or you have been convicted, or if you have been asked to repay an overpayment of benefit, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a CitizensвЂ™ Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.
Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Housing Benefit for Rates
When you claim Income Support in England, Wales and Scotland, the person you speak to should also help you claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. In Northern Ireland, they should help you to claim Housing Benefit for Rates.
They will send your details to the local authority so that they can assess whether you can get any of these benefits. However, if you want to claim these benefits, it might be best to get hold of the local authorityвЂ™s own claim forms for Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit or Housing Benefit for Rates and return these to the local authority directly. This helps to avoid delays and makes sure that the claim is registered as soon as possible.
For more information about Housing Benefit, see Help with your rent – Housing benefit. For more information about Council Tax Benefit, see Help with your Council Tax – Council Tax Benefit.
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