Eligibility criteria

There are a number of benefits and tax credits that you may be entitled to. Some benefits can be paid because your child is disabled while others may be paid to you for other reasons. For example, you may be getting disability living allowance (DLA) for your child and Carer’s Allowance as their carer.

Some families on lower incomes also receive certain means tested benefits such as income support, child tax credit and housing benefit. However, in most cases new claims for these means tested benefits and tax credits have been replaced by Universal Credit. 

Each benefit and tax credit has its own set of eligibility criteria. This means you need to meet certain conditions to qualify.

Find out more about benefits in work.

When to claim

When you know which benefit or tax credit to claim, phone the appropriate office straight away. It is difficult to get awards backdated.

Some benefits (for example Disability Living Allowance) can’t be paid for a period before the date you claimed, no matter what the circumstances. So long as you are not subject to immigration control, you should claim now, even if you are not sure you qualify, as you could miss out if you delay.

How are benefits paid?

Some benefits are paid as tax credits by HM Revenue and Customs. Different offices of the Department for Work and Pensions (Social Security Agency in Northern Ireland) pay most other benefits. However, housing and council tax benefits are paid by your local authority (Housing Executive in Northern Ireland). 

Benefits and tax credits are usually paid directly into a parent’s bank account. Any benefits for your child – such as DLA and child benefit – will be paid to you as their parent. When your child reaches 16 years they may be able to claim benefits in their own right.

Future changes

Most people who want to make a new claim for a means tested benefit need to claim Universal Credit instead. Currently this only affects new claimants and not existing claimants. The government eventually plans to move all existing means tested benefits claimants onto Universal credit as well, but these plans have been suspended due to the Coronavirus outbreak.