How to make a claim for benefits

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1 GUIDE TO BENEFITS How to make a claim for benefits This is a basic guide to benefit entitlements; please ensure that you discuss with your Resettlement Officer before you make a claim for benefits. You need to ensure that you are providing the correct information to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) as providing incorrect information can slow down the process of your claim. Here are the types of state benefits currently available: Jobseekers Allowance Employment and Support Allowance State Pension Pension credit Working Tax Credit Local Council welfare assistance schemes

2 Jobseekers Allowance Additional information and assistance from the DWP Jobseeker s Allowance (JSA) is the widely recognised benefit for people of working age, who are out of work, or work less than 16 hours a week on average; JSA is for people who are ready and willing to work. How much you receive depends on your circumstances and the type of JSA you qualify for. To qualify for JSA you usually have to be: 18 or over (but below State Pension age); able and available for work; AND meet the other rules for eligibility How to make a claim for JSA You can complete an application online by visiting: how-to-claim You can also complete the application over the phone (make a claim by phone if you don t have a National Insurance number (NINO)). Please talk to a Resettlement Officer before completing the claim to avoid mistakes which could delay the claim from being processed, which means a delay in payment. When you have completed the claim you will be provided with an appointment at the Jobcentre to complete your claim. (You will need supporting letters from Prisoners Abroad at this point.) JSA could take up to three to four weeks to process; it may take longer if there is no valid National Insurance number. JSA personal allowance rates Age and over Useful contacts for JSA New benefit claims: Contact your local Job Centre For more in depth information please visit: Remember the Jobcentre may be able to assist you with additional practical help in regards to assisting you back to work. Always talk with your Personal advisor; if you do not disclose they will not be able to point you in the right direction. Referrals to training programmes, access to grants to help pay for education and training, pending on individual circumstances. DWP are most likely to fund a course of education if it leads into employment. You can access volunteering and work trials; this can be helpful to gain a UK-based work reference. Job Centre Plus can assist with travel expenses to interviews; proof of interview will have to be shown to your personal advisor. Help with interview clothes; you are most likely to be referred to an organisation that will assist.

3 Employment and Support Allowance Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is the successor of incapacity benefit; it is paid to individuals who have an illness or disability with the aim of supporting them back into work. You may get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if your illness or disability affects your ability to work and you are: under State pension age; not getting Statutory Sick Pay or Statutory Maternity Pay and you have not gone back to work; and not getting Jobseeker s Allowance How to make a claim for ESA You will need the following when you make a claim: National Insurance number (NINO) Fit Note - formerly known as a sick certificate (can still claim prior to getting med cert) GP s address and phone number home and mobile telephone numbers mortgage or landlord details council tax bill employer s address and telephone number and dates of employment or last day worked bank account details details of any other money you are getting The quickest way to make a claim for ESA is over the phone: we would advise you to speak with a Resettlement Officer at Prisoners Abroad to ensure you have the correct information. You can complete the claim over the phone by calling Employment and Support Allowance cannot be completed online: you can request for an application form from the number provided, or for more in-depth information please visit: ESA personal rates Basic allowance under 25: Basic allowance over 25: 72.40

4 State Pension This guide explains how much state pension you are entitled to, and when to claim it. How much State pension will I get? There are two parts to the State pension the basic State pension; which almost everyone gets, and the additional state pension, which is only for employees, you qualify for the basic State pension by reaching state pension age and making 30 years worth of National Insurance contributions. If you work, you are required to contribute, and if you do not work, you might be making voluntary contributions, or being credited as though you were contributing. Basic State pension The basic State pension is worth a week for a single person (2014/2015). If your income is below a certain level, you can boost it by claiming Pension Credit. This will take your income up to a week for a single person (in 2014/15). State pension reforms The amount of State pension you get will change in April The basic and additional State pensions are going to be replaced by one flat-rate State pension, worth 144 a week. When can I claim State pension? You can claim State pension when you have reached State pension age. For men this is currently 65. For women, State pension age has started to rise, from 60 in 2010 to 65 in November From December 2018 State pension age will rise for both men and women, until it reaches 66 in April 2020 and 67 between 2026 and After this, the State pension age will be linked to longevity, and will be reviewed every five years. If you live in the UK, you won t receive your State pension automatically when you reach State pension age. You will get a letter four months before you retire, which will detail how you can claim. How to Claim State Pension There are three ways you can claim your State pension: Over the phone, by calling the State Pension claim line ( ). Online, by registering with Government Gateway via the Department for Work and Pensions website (it takes about seven days for your Government Gateway user ID and activation code to arrive in the post). By downloading the State pension claim form and sending it to your local pension centre. You can find this form on the Government s website. For more in-depth information please visit

5 Working Tax Credit Pension Credit Working Tax Credit is a state benefit, which assists individuals who may be on a low income. It is a part of the current system of refundable tax credits introduced in April 2003 and is a means-tested social security benefit. You could get Working Tax Credit if: you re aged 16 or over; you work a certain number of hours a week; you get paid for the work you do (or expect to); or your income is below a certain level The basic amount of Working Tax Credit is up to 1,940 a year - you could get more (or less) depending on your circumstances and income. Eligibility depends on your age and how many hours of paid work you do a week. Your income and circumstances will also affect how much you get. Your age You must be 16 or over to qualify. Hours you work You must work a certain number of hours a week to qualify. Circumstance Hours a week 25 to 59 At least 30 hours 60 or over At least 16 hours Disabled At least 16 hours You can apply for Working Tax Credits if you re about to start work in the next 7 days. Your pay The work must last at least 4 weeks (or you must expect it to last 4 weeks) and must be paid. This can include payment in kind (eg farm produce for a farm labourer) or where you expect to be paid for the work. Your income There s no set limit for income because it depends on your circumstances (and those of your partner). For example, 18,000 for a couple without children or 13,100 for a single person without children - but it can be higher if you have children and pay for approved childcare or one of you is disabled. How to claim You can make a claim for Working Tax credits by going to the website below: You can also call Please make contact with Prisoners Abroad to discuss options which may be available to you. You can claim Pension Credit whether or not you are working. You may be able to claim one part or both parts, depending on your circumstances: Guarantee credit - if you fit the age rules and are on a low income this part tops up your weekly income to a guaranteed level. Women can get this part when they reach state pension age. Savings credit - You could get this part if you have a certain amount of income coming in from pensions, savings, earnings and investments and are over 65. Most clients apply for Pension Credit to help top up the State pension this will enable individuals to have a guaranteed minimum income which the government states is per week How to apply for Pension Credit You can complete an application over the phone by calling You can also go to:

6 Local Council welfare assistance schemes Discounted and free travel You can no longer apply for a Crisis loan in England, Scotland and Wales, although you can apply from Northern Ireland; this due to new government laws surrounding benefit reform. Local support by local councils has replaced social fund crisis loans and community care grants, which no longer exist. The schemes offered vary from one council to another. Each scheme has its own rules. There is no standard name for these schemes. The scheme in your area might be called something like: emergency support scheme; essential living fund; local assistance scheme; local welfare assistance; or local welfare provision. The council will decide if you are eligible for help. In some areas help may be in the form of food vouchers, referrals to food banks or furniture projects rather than money. You may be eligible for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card if you re claiming one of the following: Jobseekers Allowance, if you re aged between and have been unemployed for 3-9 months Jobseekers Allowance, if you re aged 25 or over and have been unemployed for 3-12 months Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance or Income Support, and working with an adviser on returning to employment You might also be eligible for help with your fares during the first few months of commuting to a new job. Contact your local Jobcentre Plus office for more information. You won t be eligible for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card if you re participating in the Work Programme. How much do I save? When you have a Jobcentre Plus travel discount added to an Oyster card you can get: Half adult-rate pay as you go fares Child-rate 7 Day, Monthly or longer period (up to three months) Travelcard, or Bus & Tram Passes How do I apply? To apply for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card, you ll need to go to your local Jobcentre Plus office. If you live in a London borough, you may be eligible for free travel across London if you: are over 60; are blind, or partially-sighted; are profoundly or severely deaf, or are without speech; have a disability, or have suffered an injury which makes walking more difficult; have no arms, or have a long-term loss of the use of both arms; have a learning disability; OR have been refused a driving licence on the grounds of your disability. You can find further information at How do I apply? You can apply online, through your Local council office or by contacting DWP for further information. Depending on your circumstances, a local council may offer you some help if the welfare of your children is at risk or if you are at risk of becoming homeless.

7 Important tips you need to know when applying for benefits Discuss and talk through your options with a Resettlement Officer; it is very important that you attend your initial Jobseekers appointment with Prisoners Abroad s support letters. Ensure that you have a C/O (Care of) address that you can use for postal correspondences, if you do not have a C/O you are able to use Prisoners Abroad s address as a correspondence. Remember if you do not have a National Insurance Number; it will automatically be applied through the benefits which you have applied for. You will be invited to attend a National Insurance Number interview and it will take between 4 and 6 weeks to be allocated a National Insurance Number. When claiming ESA you will need to obtain a Fit Note, formally known as a sick certificate. You can obtain this from your GP (Doctor) and it will have details with regards to the number of weeks/months the GP has stated that you are unable to work, and this will be reviewed regularly. You can self-certify for 7 days It is vital that you disclose that you have been deported back to the UK as this will have an impact on your Habitual Residence Test. Remember the law states that a person returning from abroad is not entitle to welfare benefits for 3-6 months, although a Deported person is exempt from this regulation. If you are unsure please contact your Resettlement Officer. Remember to always keep a copy of your Fit Note, keep in mind when you are due to renew it as your benefits will be stopped if a new one is not sent in to the Department of Work and Pensions. With JSA claims agree with your personal advisor what you are able to commit to so you can lessen your chance of being sanctioned, if you are in need of training or specific skills discuss this with your personal advisor at the Jobcentre; they can refer you to training courses which can lead to employment. Remember to change your address and make DWP aware of any changes regardless how small as it may affect your payments.! *Your personal advisor is responsible for supporting claimants seeking employment; they will be your first point of contact with the Jobcentre. Personal advisors decide on the level of appropriate support needed to help secure employment.

8 Frequently asked questions I have been advised to obtain a full passport, I want to be released sooner so would it be quicker if I obtained an emergency passport? Prisoners Abroad appreciates that being released from immigration is a priority but ensuring that you have acquired a full passport is beneficial for you on your arrival into the UK as it will serve as your identification. Not having a passport will more than likely slow down the resettlement process; you may encounter problems with accessing payments, bank accounts and housing. Prisoners Abroad strongly advises that you are deported back on a full British passport. Contact consular staff to arrange this. I am confused about the difference between universal credit, Job Seekers and Employment and Support Allowance. Universal Credit is a new single payment for people who are looking for work or are on a low or no income. Universal Credit will replace all benefits such as Job seekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance and housing benefit. Changes are being gradually introduced into the benefit system and Prisoners Abroad will continue to update clients of changes when and if they happen. Do I have to disclose that I was deported? If you are claiming benefits you will need to complete what is called a Habitual Residency Test (HRT); this is a test to assess whether you normally live in the UK. The HRT was introduced by the government in 1994 to try and stop benefit tourism (EU citizens living temporarily in one EU country and claiming benefits before moving on to another country). If you are a deported person you will usually pass the test. You therefore need to provide evidence of having been deported. I failed my Habitual Resident Test (HRT) Most individuals fail the HRT because they did not disclose the fact that they have been deported back to the UK. You do need to disclose to Jobcentre Plus if you completed a sentence or were held in an immigration detention centre. A person who has been deported is exempt from the HRT but may still be asked to attend an HRT interview and provide evidence. Prisoners Abroad will provide supporting letters to ensure that you claim is processed smoothly. If you have failed your HRT please contact Prisoners Abroad immediately so we can try to solve the situation.

9 Frequently asked questions (continued) I can t receive a payment as I don t have a bank account. Why is the Jobcentre sanctioning me? All benefits are paid via a bank account, to open a bank account you will need a full passport and proof of an address. Most individuals arrive back with no identification and are waiting to be housed in accommodation; there are alternatives methods to receive payments if you cannot access a high street bank account: Post office account: is strictly for benefit payments and you cannot obtain any other payments in this account or pay bills via direct debit. You can open a post office account through your local Job centre. Please discuss this with your personal advisor as they will complete necessary forms, it should take between two and three weeks to open. Simple payment method: Simple payment is a card which all benefits can be paid onto, you would access the payment by going to a participating shop and collecting your payment by showing your Identification. The Job Centre will only set up this method if you can prove that you have exceptional circumstances and cannot open a valid bank account. If your payments are being affected due to not having a bank account, please contact your Resettlement Officer as we may offer you a solution. To get JSA/Universal Credit/benefits you have to meet certain work-related requirements. There are the things you have to do to prepare for work, find work, get better paid work, or increase your hours, like going to job interviews. If you fail to meet one of these requirements, you can be sanctioned; this means your benefit is reduced for a certain period. Sanctions tend to be more severe if there has been a previous sanction. To avoid being sanctioned be on time for all appointments with the Jobcentre, complete all forms and paperwork provided by your personal advisor, keep to your Jobseekers agreement and access the Universal Credit website at least twice a week to show you are looking for work. If you find that you are in this position please contact your Resettlement Officer to discuss, we may be able to appeal the sanction depending on the circumstances.

10 Frequently asked questions (continued) What is the Work Programme, and why do I have to participate? The Work Programme provides support, work experience and training for up to 2 years to help people find and stay in work. Who is eligible? You might have to join the Work Program if: you ve been getting Jobseeker s Allowance for more than 3 months; or If you receive Employment and Support Allowance and you re in the Work-Related Activity Group. Job Centre Plus will write and ask you to attend an interview. You ll have to attend an assessment interview with Job Centre Plus if you re still on the Work Program after 2 years. The interview will help you plan, prepare and find work. Youth Contract If you re 18 to 24 you can get extra help under the Youth Contract, including voluntary work placements, apprenticeships and careers guidance. Help for specific types of work Sector-based work academies offer training and work experience for up to 6 weeks in a particular industry or area of work. I have just moved into accommodation, I have no clothes or household items, what shall I do? Once you have moved into accommodation please contact your Resettlement Officer so you can be advised on next steps. Your Resettlement officers can complete a local support scheme application, although you may have to be in your accommodation for 6 weeks before an application can be submitted on your behalf. The Local support scheme will assist with obtaining household furniture such as kitchen cutlery, bedroom items such as beds, bed covers and sheets; you will also be able to apply for clothes. You will be awarded vouchers to spend in specific stores agreed with the local council; no cash payments are made. Please note if you miss your appointment or do not engage with the Job Centre you may be sanctioned which could result of non-payment of benefits. Most academies also offer a guaranteed interview for a job or an apprenticeship.

11 Freephone: * Prisoners Abroad Fonthill Road London N4 3JH *This line is open 9.30am pm Monday to Friday free of charge within the UK only. Calls to this line are chargeable from some mobile networks. Registered Charity No Company limited by guarantee no

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