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Are you Receiving all the Benefits you're Entitled to?

By: Sarah O'Hara BA (hons) - Updated: 13 Jun 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Benefits Tax Credit Child Tax Credit

Many people are unaware that they could be eligible for benefits and other financial help and therefore they are not claiming and receiving money that is rightfully theirs. According to one report up to £8 billion worth of state benefits go unclaimed every year.

Benefits and tax credits are not just for families on the very lowest incomes either. For example, depending on your circumstances, you could be earning up to £58,000 a year, or £66,000 if you have a child under one, and still receive child tax credits.

In this article we’ll look at how to find out what your overall benefit eligibility is and some of the most common benefits that people miss out on.

Who Can Claim Benefits?

There are benefits available to help many different people who need them, including:

  • The unemployed
  • Those who are disabled
  • People who are ill and unable to work
  • The elderly
  • Recent parents
  • Carers
  • Guardians
  • Families earning less that £58,000 per year who have children under 16.

How do I Know if I am Eligible for Benefits?

There is now an easy way to find out if you’re missing out on benefits – through a site called Entitledto. If your main income is through benefits it is also worth visiting the local Citizens Advice Bureau for a personal and thorough check-up on your benefits status.

For a quick benefits check through the Entitledto website all you need to do is input your information and the site will work everything out for you.

You’ll be asked questions on matters such as:

  • Age
  • Number of children
  • Housing situation
  • Disability status
  • Income
  • Benefits you already receive

The entitledto calculator will assess you for all major benefits, including:

  • Working Tax Credit
  • Council Tax
  • Housing Benefit
  • Pension Credit
  • Child Benefit
  • Child Trust Fund
  • Child Tax Credit

Benefits that commonly go unclaimed

According to the Department for Work and Pensions and the Inland Revenue, these are some of the main benefits which go unclaimed every year.

  • Income support: Income support is paid to those who are unable to work and don’t have enough money to live on.
  • Housing benefit: Housing benefit is paid to those on low incomes to help them pay some or all of their rent.
  • Council tax benefit: Council tax benefit is paid to those with income and savings of less that £16,000 to help them pay their annual bill.
  • Jobseeker’s allowance: Those who are of working age and not in employment can claim jobseeker’s allowance for the duration that they are out of work.
  • Pension credit: Pension credit is calculated on a weekly basis and is paid to those aged over 60, based on their income.
  • Tax credits: Tax credits are paid by the government and according to the Directgov website over 90% of households are entitled to them. There are two types of tax credits – child tax credits and working tax credits.

How to claim benefits

Once you have worked out the benefits that you’re entitled to it’s important to start claiming them as soon as possible. It is possible in some cases that your benefits can be backdated.

Social security benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support and Disability Living Allowance can be claimed through Jobcentre Plus.

The Inland Revenue administer some benefits such as tax credits and the local tax office should be contacted regarding these.

The Pension Service deals with pension credit and some housing-related benefits are administered by local authorities.

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