Benefits you're entitled to: unemployed and disabled people

Last updated: Feb 8th, 2013
Feature by Sarah Coles

There's one thing we all know about benefits: they're about to be cut to the bone. In future, only the most needy will be entitled to government assistance, and even they may well receive less support than before.

These changes are on the near horizon - but at the moment, many generous benefits still remain in place. Yet a huge chunk of this cash goes unclaimed: the most recent estimates at the beginning of this year put the amount at £16.8 million.

So it's worth getting to grips with what's available now and what will be around in the future - and what you may be entitled to.


Jobseeker's Allowance

If you are of working age, working fewer than 16 hours a week and actively seeking work, you may be entitled to JSA.

How it works...

When you start claiming, you'll need to visit the Jobcentre to draw up a 'jobseeker's agreement' outlining what you will do to seek work.

JSA is paid fortnightly, at a maximum weekly rate of £71.00 for those aged 25 and over, £56.25 for younger people and £111.45  for couples. This amount may differ depending on your circumstances.

There are two variations: 'contribution based' (if you've paid enough NI contributions in the past), which pays out for six months, and 'income based', where income and savings are taken into account.

Additional benefits

A community care grant is a one-off payment for short-term needs that you'll have to pay back.


Employment and Support Allowance

In 2008, employment and support allowance replaced incapacity benefit for new claimants.

How it works...

In order to claim, you'll be required to have a medical assessment. If your disability prevents you working, you'll be placed in the support group; otherwise you'll be placed in the work-related activity group, where you will be required to take steps to help you prepare for work.

There are two types of allowance: contribution based and income based. The former is for those who have a sufficient history of NI contributions and the latter for those who don't, or who are able to do some work. To qualify for the latter group, you must also have savings amounting to less than £16,000 and, if you have a partner, they must work fewer than 24 hours a week.

After the medical assessment, those in the support group will receive up to £99.85 a week, and those in the work-related activity group, £94.25.

Additional benefits

Disability living allowance is for those under the age of 65 and is intended to help with daily costs.

You'll be eligible for the assistance if you need help with eating, dressing yourself and going to the toilet, for example. The level of need will dictate the size of payment you'll receive.

Carer's allowance is for those aged over 16 who care for someone entitled to a disability benefit for at least 35 hours a week. It's only available if you earn less than £100 a week. The weekly rate is £58.45, but will be reduced by the amount of certain other benefits you get.

At some point in our lives most of us will need a little extra assistance, whether it's because we are ill, getting older, or facing unaffordable childcare costs. The state is there to help - it's up to you to navigate the system and apply.

Your Comments

A Crisis loan is a loan you have to pay back - it will be deducted at source from your benefits. You do not have to be getting benefits to get a crisis loan - you can just be waiting for a decision on whether you can get benefits or not.
A Community Care Grant - is a one off payment eg for people leaving care, or prison, or long term hospital care or domestic violence situation - who need help to buy the essentials of life eg washing machine, cooker etc.
You do not need to pay this back - the clue is in the name - it is a Grant not a loan. You do need to be getting certain qualifying benefits to get this though eg income support, income based jobseekers allowance or income based employment and support allowance.

Hi all,I have worked and raised my two boys, one of whom is still in education.  I have the happy married two children family category. Recently, I have suffered from depression so badly that I have had to give in work.  I wish I had struggled on with work until I worked myself into an early grave. Then at least they would have had 3 years wages from my work. Why, might you ask? This government has not recognised my illness, I have managed to handle my symptoms over time although the systems says I have been fit for work as I passed there medical! No-one wants to employ me because of my age or my medical records which they can request.  My jobseekers allowance has run out as I have had 182 days! I telephoned about this and because my husband is working we cannot claim anything, his wage is less than the national average! I am a highly qualified professional with a degree and cannot find work.
So, what am I supposed to do. I would love some advice from a professional. We are about to loose our house. No one wants to no, we are like the untouchables in society, marginlised. THINK ONCE ABOUT WHO YOU VOTE INTO PARLIAMENT. The rich get richer and the poor die!
There is no money for food in our house.  Tell me how am I supposed to feed my son who is in college, let alone us.

My partner finished work 3.5 years ago due to illness, and he had been claiming DLA and ESA, but for the same reason as MUE, his benefit has now stopped because he has ran out of claiming days!  He suffers from epilepsy and nobody would employed him, But yet, because I'm working for more than 30hours a week, we aren't entitled to any help, such as rent rebate and Council tax... We still have to pay for other bills beside, but yet the JCP would not entertain my partner with even JSA because they say he's not fit for work... so if he's not fit for work, but he can't claim DLA, where do this put us? Or anybody else that are in the same predicament?  

The benifit system for self employed people is a joke. I was diagnosed with narcolepsy and cataplexy, both of which are incurable, a year ago and I can't work properly anymore. I've done all the things required like surrendering my drivers licence after struggleing to convince my GP's surgery that there was a problem with my health. Once properly diagnosed my GP offered to give me a sick line stating that I was unfit for work. On telling her that I was self employed she told me that a sick line was pointless. Indeed, who would the sick line be for considering my company consists of myself and one other director?
During the time trying to convince my GP that I was ill my wife left me. She moved out of our jointly mortgaged home and moved in with her wealthy parents, who have more than enough room in their four storey eight bedroom townhouse, and has refused to pay any of our mortgage or household bills (as is her right under Scots Law.)
I have applied for Disability Living Allowance and have been turned down. This is despite the fact that all medical advise is that I need 24 hour care due to the severity of my condition. I can't legally drive and I can't use public transport yet the assessor from ATOS, the French company employed by The Department for Work and Pensions, has decided that it's my "personal preference" to be accompanied on public transport and I am "not a danger to myself or others" even though I can't have a bath due to the fact I am at serious risk of drowning.
In four days time I will be three months in arrears on my mortgage, I can't afford to heat my home, I haven't paid my council tax in a year and I have no food in my cupboards.
To sum up my position I have no way to support myself or my two children and there is nothing I can do about it. After a lifetime of never claiming one penny in benefits and paying hundreds of thousands of pounds in taxes The government has decided that the easiest way to make cuts is to pick on the weakest and most vulnerable in our society.
My future frightens me.

Hi, I feel this govement does not have any thought's about ill people in this country at ALL.I am in the same position as your partner and my wife is now having to work 7days per week to keep us from losing everything. This new benifit system is disgusting for those of us who deserve it, they have made it so almost nobody can claim it.

  • im the same on long term sick and cant claim anything cos my partner works 36 hrs a week.They dont take into account full rent,council tax,other bills and tax taand insurance taken out.its a all your life n get no help when needed or sit on ya backside all your life n get everything.Stressed isnt the word 

I worked my socks off up til 2005. Including when my children were at school as a single mum. YES a single mum working her socks off. Don't drink. Don't smoke. Don't drive. Only benefit I claimed was single person 25% off council tax and a tiny amount of HB as wages paid the rest and of course family allowance. I expect you're one of the 'get pregnant and get a free council house' brigade as well. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Now I know it's a free country. Free speech and all that but when I come across people like you I want to scream. In 2005 I had an accident at work. The company won the court case when I tried for compensation of course. I "sit on my backside all day" because I have to. I have legs that don't work. Luckily I'd saved for my sons' later education. One went on to gain a BSc and the other an HND. How I wish I could meet people like you so you can see my legs. So vickster and anyone else who might have similar thoughts as him/her...please think before you make libellious claims about people of whom you know nothing. I would gladly go back to work but I didn't just mash my legs. I'll spare you the gory details.
Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging remark