Where to get help / general advice
For advice about what benefits you might be entitled to and how to apply, go to Citizens Advice York (CAB), or call the Council Benefits and Contributions Advisers – who can also make home visits.
If you are having problems with a benefits claim, get advice from Citizens Advice York (CAB). They also have specialist advisers if you are not happy with a decision made by a benefits agency. You’ll need to speak to a general adviser first at Citizens Advice York who can refer you to a specialist if needed.
If you need help with your Housing Benefit claim you can also speak to a Customer Service Representative at the Council’s Customer Centre, who can go through your claim with you first. See here for more information about Housing Benefit/help with your rent.
To work out what you may be entitled to, go to turn2us.org.uk or entitledto.co.uk.
If you are under 16 you can’t claim any benefits for yourself (except Child Benefit if you have a child of your own); your parent/guardian should claim for you.
To claim any benefit you will need your National Insurance number and identification (e.g. passport, birth certificate, pay slip, bank statement, driving licence etc) – but if you don’t have these, don’t let that delay you. You will only usually get benefits from the time when you first start your claim but it’s worth asking for your claim to be backdated if you have good reason. However tax credits can usually be backdated for up to 1 month, and ESA for up to 3 months if you were eligible during that time.
Benefits are normally paid into your bank or building society account, or Post Office card account. See here for information about basic bank accounts. If you need money while you are waiting for your first payment, you may be able to get a ‘Short-term Benefit Advance’. See here.
You will receive a written decision about any claim for benefits. If you think the decision is wrong, ask for it to be looked at again, and if you are still not satisfied, appeal the decision. Get advice.
What will affect your claim
Some benefits are affected if you are married or living with someone as if you were married – i.e. ‘cohabiting’. Same-sex couples are treated in the same way as opposite-sex couples. If you are single, but treated as a couple because you live with someone else, get advice.
Income Support, income-based JSA, income related ESA, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support may be affected by any savings you have and by your own or your partner’s earnings, although a small amount of your earnings may be ignored.