Income Support for disabled students
• You may photocopy this information booklet • You may quote from this information booklet if you acknowledge the source • Skill information booklets are available in standard print, large print, Braille, audio and disk formats • Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy. However, Skill cannot guarantee factual content Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities Chief Executive: Barbara Waters Unit 3, Floor 3, Radisson Court, 219 Long Lane, London SE1 4PR Email: email@example.com Website: www.skill.org.uk Tel: 020 7450 0620 Fax: 020 7450 0650 Information Service: Tuesdays 11.30am-1.30pm and Thursdays 1.30pm-3.30pm Tel: 0800 328 5050 or Textphone: 0800 068 2422 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Skill is a company limited by guarantee (2397897) and a registered charity (801971), also registered in Scotland (SC039212)
Skill would like to thank Disability Alliance for updating this booklet
Income Support for disabled students
Contents 1 Introduction 2 Who can claim Income Support? 3 What does the calculation involve? 4 Additional information 5 Making a claim 6 Appeals 7 Useful Information Page 2 4 9 19 21 22 23
About this booklet
This booklet explains: the conditions you need to meet to continue claiming Income Support how study-related income, such as student loans, might affect the amount of Income Support you can get where to go for more advice and guidance. Calculating what you are entitled to can be complicated. It depends on your own circumstances and your level of income. If you need help to work out how much you are entitled to, ask your Students’ Union welfare adviser or your local Citizens Advice Bureau. Skill can’t advise on individual benefit claims or make benefit calculations for you.
From 27 October 2008, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) replaced Income Support and Incapacity Benefit. The information in this booklet applies to students who claimed Income Support on the basis of incapacity for work before the introduction of ESA.
In this booklet, ‘partner’ means husband or wife or civil partner, or someone who lives with you as though they were your husband or wife or civil partner.
What is Income Support?
Income Support is a welfare benefit that gives a basic income to people who do not have enough money to live on. It can be paid on its own or as a top-up to other benefits or earnings to bring your income up to the basic level the law says you need. Income Support is means-tested, which means that the amount you get depends on how much money you have coming in. Usually, full-time students can’t claim Income Support. However, disabled students may be able to claim if they meet certain conditions. You must be under 60 to get Income Support. If you are 60 or over, you should claim Pension Credit. If you are under 60 but have a partner who is over 60 you may be able to claim Pension Credit. The Pension Credit rules are less strict - it is worth checking to see if you would be better off. Income Support claims are processed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) at your local Jobcentre Plus office.
Who can claim Income Support?
Everyone has to meet some basic conditions before they can claim this benefit. Students also have to meet some specific conditions.
• You are in the United Kingdom • You are over 16 and under 60 • You do not have to sign on as available for work (see Skill’s information booklet Studying and claiming benefits as ‘incapable of work’) • You are not working for 16 hours per week or more • Your partner (if you have one) is not working for 24 hours a week or more • You do not have more than £16,000 capital (capital includes savings accounts in banks or building societies or in cash and most redundancy payments) • Your income is less than the minimum that the state says you need to live on. This minimum is called the ‘applicable amount’ and is explained in more detail in section 3 • You are not getting Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance.
Being able to claim Income Support depends on whether you are studying full time or part time. Most full-time students can’t claim Income Support. However, some disabled students can claim Income Support, including people who are treated as ’incapable of work’. If you are already receiving Income Support and you start studying, you must tell Jobcentre Plus when you begin your 4
course. Being able to study may show that your health has improved and that you should no longer be treated as ‘incapable of work’. This is a ‘relevant change of circumstances’ and you must report it.
For part-time students
Part-time study does not affect Income Support. If you meet the basic conditions then you can continue to claim Income Support. Any part-time course or fee grants you receive are unlikely to be counted as income. Normally, your school or college decides whether a course is full time or part time and the DWP follow that decision. Different rules are used for students under 19 (and in some cases under 20) on a ‘non-advanced’ course.
For full-time students under 19
Special rules apply for people under 19 who are in full-time education. In some cases these rules apply up to your 20th birthday. Some households can be worse off if you start to claim benefits for yourself. Your parents or carers may lose more in benefits or tax credits than you will gain. For more information, talk to your Students’ Union welfare adviser or local Citizens Advice Bureau. To find out if you are entitled to Income Support, you need to know whether you are doing an advanced or a non-advanced course. Non-advanced courses include: GCSEs A levels NVQ (level 3 or below) Access courses 5
some foundation courses BTEC ordinary national diplomas 14-19 Specialised Diplomas Welsh Baccalaureat Scottish Vocational Education Council (SVEC) national certificates Scottish Certificates of Higher Education Scottish Certificates of Sixth Year Studies. A non-advanced course is classed as full time if there are 12 hours or more of ‘guided learning’ each week. If you are not sure whether you are a full-time or a part-time student, ask your school or college or talk to your student welfare adviser or local Citizens Advice Bureau. If you are studying a full-time non-advanced course you must continue to meet the basic conditions already described and you must either: • have been incapable of work for 28 weeks • receive a Disability Premium or Severe Disability Premium in the calculation of your Income Support (see below) • be the parent of a child for whom you are treated as responsible • be an orphan, and have no one acting as your parent • have to live away from your parents and any person acting in their place because either you are estranged from them or you are in physical or moral danger or there is a serious risk to your physical or mental health • be living apart from your parents and any person acting in their place and they are unable to support you as they are in prison or they are unable to come to Britain because they do have leave to enter under UK immigration laws or they are chronically sick or are mentally or physically disabled; or • for a maximum of nine months, be a refugee learning English for more than 15 hours a week and have been in the country for less than a year when you start the course. 6
For care leavers
16 and 17 year-olds leaving local authority care can’t get Income Support and their local authority supports them financially. If you are a care-leaver, you can only get Income Support if you are a lone parent on a non-advanced course or if you have the Disability or Severe Disability Premium included in the calculation of your Income Support. You can get Income Support under these rules until you leave the course or you have your 20th birthday, whichever happens first. You must have started the course before you were 19. Advanced courses include: university degrees NVQs (level 4) BTEC Higher National Diplomas (HND) or Higher National Certificates (HNC) SVEC Higher National Diplomas (HND) diplomas of higher education teaching qualifications postgraduate courses. If you are under 19 and studying a full-time advanced course you come under the same rules as full-time students aged 19 or over.
For full-time students aged 19 or over
If you are a disabled student aged 19 or over (or under 19 but on an advanced course), you can continue to claim Income Support if you meet the basic conditions already described and one of the following. • You qualify for the Disability Premium (explained on page 7) 7
• You qualify for the Severe Disability Premium (explained on page 7) • You have been incapable of work for 28 weeks. (Two or more periods of incapacity can be linked together if they are no more than 8 weeks apart) • You qualify for a Disabled Students’ Allowance because you are D/deaf (explained in Skill’s information booklet Applying for Disabled Students’ Allowances.) You can also continue to claim Income Support if: • you are a lone parent (or lone foster parent) of a child under 16 • you are one of a couple and you are both full-time students and either or both of you is responsible for a child or a young person and it is the summer vacation; or • for up to 9 months, you are a refugee learning English for less than 15 hours a week and have been in the country for less than a year when you start the course.
How is Income Support calculated?
Calculating the amount of your Income Support can be complicated. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau or the welfare adviser in the Students’ Union, if you have one, can help you work out the amount you are likely to receive. Income Support is calculated using a formula like this: Applicable amount – Weekly income = Income Support
What is the applicable amount?
This is the amount of money the government expects you to live on each week. It is calculated by adding together personal allowances, premiums, and certain types of housing costs. You can find out the amounts for premiums and personal allowances from Jobcentre Plus. A small number of people who have been getting Income Support since April 2004 still get personal allowances and premiums for dependent children. For most other people, support for children comes through Child Tax Credit. Personal allowances are based on estimates for daily living costs. They depend on your age and whether you are a single person or living as a couple. Premiums are based on any additional costs you may have because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities. Disability Premium You may qualify for the Disability Premium if you: 9
• • • •
receive Disability Living Allowance paid at any rate receive Incapacity Benefit at the long-term rate receive Severe Disablement Allowance have been assessed as ‘incapable of work’ for 364 days, or 196 days if you have been certified as terminally ill; or • are registered blind with a local authority. You also get a Disability Premium if your partner gets one of these benefits. To qualify for the premium as incapable of work, the person claiming Income Support must be the person who cannot work. Sometimes, people who claim Income Support have a partner who is over 60 (where the partner claims Pension Credit for the couple). In this case, a Pensioner Premium can be included in the applicable amount. If you and your partner qualify for both the Disability Premium and the Pensioner Premium, only the Pensioner Premium is paid. Enhanced Disability Premium You (or your partner who is under 60) qualify for this premium if you get Disability Living Allowance at the highest rate of care component. Severe Disability Premium You qualify for this premium if: • you receive the middle or highest rate care component of Disability Living Allowance; and • no-one aged 18 or over lives with you; and • no-one is paid Carer’s Allowance for looking after you. You can live with certain people and still get the Severe Disability Premium, for example, anyone aged under 18. If someone is entitled to Carer’s Allowance but doesn’t actually receive it, this will not affect your Severe Disability Premium. Ask your Students’ 10
Union welfare adviser or local Citizens Advice Bureau for more details. Housing costs Income Support can help towards your costs if you own your home. It can help you with: mortgage interest payments interest on loans for some repairs and improvements to your home any ground rent you have to pay as a condition of a long lease some service charges. Housing costs do not include daily living expenses such as water or fuel charges. If you rent your home can claim help with rent from Housing Benefit. See Skill’s information booklet Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit for disabled students. If you have a partner and have to study away from home, you may be able to get help with the cost of your term-time home at the same time as getting help with the mortgage on your main home. However, if you are single, you can only claim assistance with housing costs on one home (either your term-time or main home). If you think this may apply to you, ask your student welfare adviser or local Citizens Advice Bureau for advice.
What is weekly income?
Weekly income is made up of income and capital. Income is money from: most benefits and grants student loans career development loans charitable payments 11
access funds savings in cash or in bank or building society accounts. Capital is money from: bank and building society accounts premium bonds stocks and shares savings in cash most lump-sum redundancy payments. If your capital is: below £6,000 you should get full Income Support over £6,000 and up to a maximum of £16,000 it will probably affect how much Income Support you can get. (Income Support is reduced by £1 per week for every £250 of capital that you have over £6,000) over £16,000 you can’t get Income Support.
What is taken into account when calculating weekly income?
Parts of your income may be fully taken into account, partly ignored or completely ignored when calculations are made. Most benefits usually count in full as weekly income. The benefits that count in full include: • Incapacity Benefit • state retirement pension (private and occupational pensions also count in full) • statutory sick pay • statutory maternity pay • statutory paternity pay.
However, these benefits are completely ignored: • Disability Living Allowance • Attendance Allowance • Housing Benefit • Council Tax Benefit • War Pensioner’s mobility supplement • Social Fund payments • Child Benefit and Guardian’s Allowance (unless your applicable amount includes a personal allowance for your child); • health benefits, for example, free prescriptions. What about Tax Credits and Maintenance? Child Tax Credit is completely ignored as income. Working Tax Credit counts in full as income. For most people, the first £20 of maintenance payments is ignored. Child Maintenance may count in full as income if it is paid under older Child Support Agency rules or under an older voluntary agreement or court order. What about Incapacity benefits? If you receive a benefit because you are ‘incapable of work’, such as Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance or Income Support with Disability Premium, starting a course may prompt the DWP to review your claim. Skill’s information booklet Studying and claiming benefits as ‘incapable of work’ gives more advice about this. What about Educational Maintenance Allowance? Any Educational Maintenance Allowance you receive is completely ignored. What about Student loans? Tuition fee loans are completely ignored. 13
Most full-time undergraduate students will get a student maintenance loan or are entitled to apply for one. This loan will affect the amount of Income Support you receive. If you are eligible for a maintenance loan, you will be treated as though you have taken out the maximum loan that you are entitled to, even if you do not take out the loan. How student loan income is calculated The academic year is divided into four uneven quarters. 1 January to 31 March (Winter quarter) 1 April to 30 June (Spring quarter) 1 July to 31 August (Summer quarter) 1 September to 31 December (Autumn quarter). Your loan will be divided by the number of weeks in the Winter, Spring and Autumn quarters to give a weekly income figure. It is not taken into account for the quarter that includes your long vacation. For most students this will be the Summer quarter. When assessing your income to work out how much Income Support you can receive, some amounts of the loan will be 'disregarded’ (not counted) for the three quarters when you will be studying. These are: the amount given for books and equipment. For the academic year 2009/10 this is £390; and the amount given for travel costs. For the academic year 2009/10 this is £303. If the loan includes a specified sum for travel any extra is disregarded as well as the fixed amount. £10 a week of your loan is also not counted. If you don’t get a full loan, you are still entitled to the same disregards. 14
If you leave your course early, the loan is still divided over the academic year. Any benefit weeks left that are covered by the loan period will still count. Calculating the income from the loan depends on what stage of the course you are studying. 1st year - the loan income is ignored until the first day of the first term. 2nd or 3rd year - the loan income counts from the first week in September or from the first week of the Autumn term, whichever is earlier. The period ends in the last week in June. For most students, this means the loan is taken into account over 43 weeks. Final year - the loan income counts until the week in which your course ends. Any student loan left over at the end your course is ignored as income. What about grants? Grants are taken into account for the same period as the student loan. Some grants are ignored and others count as income. The Higher Education Grant is for students in England who started their course before September 2006. This is ignored as income for Income Support claims. The Special Support Grant is for students who started their course after September 2006. It is ignored as income for Income Support claims. The Maintenance Grant is for students who started their course after September 2006. It counts as income for Income Support claims. 15
Parental or partner’s maintenance contribution Assessed contributions to your maintenance from a parent or partner normally count in full, whether or not they are actually paid to you. If you are a lone parent or a disabled student only the amount of the contribution that is actually paid is taken into account. NHS bursaries An NHS bursary is considered as grant income. It is paid on a monthly basis. When calculating Income Support, it is usually taken into account over a 52-week period. Some elements of the bursary, such as Dependants’ Allowance, are counted over a shorter time period. NHS means-tested loan (low rate) If you qualify for means-tested bursaries for health-related courses you can also apply for a lower rate loan. This loan will affect the amount of Income Support you receive. If you qualify for a loan, you will be treated as though you have taken out the maximum loan that you are entitled to, even if you do not take out the loan. However, students who qualify for nonmeans-tested bursaries for health-related courses can’t apply for a loan, so no loan amount should be counted. Access to Learning Fund or Access Fund payments These funds include the access bursary, mature students’ bursary and hardship fund payments. They are paid to students who are experiencing financial hardship. The rules about these payments vary depending on how you are going to use the funds. If the payment is: to cover a one-off cost, such as for debts, books or special equipment, it will count as capital. It will only affect your claim if it is not spent quickly and your total capital (including the payment) is more than £6,000. 16
for basic living costs, such as food, gas, electricity or rent, it will count as capital but this will be ignored for 52 weeks. This capital will only affect your claim if the funds have not been used by the end of the 52-week period. to be used on an on-going basis and is paid as a lump sum or in instalments, it will count as income. This income will be disregarded in full unless the payment is for basic living costs. In this case, £20 a week will be disregarded. to bridge the gap before starting your course or getting your student loan, it will be ignored completely, even if it is intended to cover ordinary living costs. Any payments received from a hardship loan are completely ignored when assessing income. Learner Support Funds These are available from colleges for further education courses. Income from these funds is treated as grant income. Dependants’ Allowance If you receive an allowance for people who depend on you financially, this income counts for the same period as a student loan. Career Development Loans The part of the Career Development Loan which is intended to cover fees or examination costs is ignored when calculating income. Any amount specifically intended to cover your living expenses, such as food, fuel, clothing or housing costs, is taken into account. These parts of the loan are divided over the number of weeks of study for which the Career Development Loan was paid.
Voluntary or charitable payments Irregular, or one-off, payments are treated as capital. They are unlikely to affect your claim unless your capital is more than £6,000. Regular payments are completely ignored. What student income is ignored? The following payments are not counted as income. • Allowances for tuition and examination fees • Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) • Any allowance to meet the cost of attending a residential course away from normal student accommodation during term time • Any allowances for the cost of a home (away from college) if the rent is not met by Housing Benefit • Payments made to you by non-dependants for living and accommodation expenses • Any amount of grant given for a partner or child abroad • Government Training Allowances. What about earnings? Any net salary (after tax is deducted), including holiday pay, is taken into account. £20 a week is ignored if you are a lone parent or receiving Disability Premium, Severe Disability Premium or Carer’s Premium. £5 a week is ignored for a single person and £10 a week for couples. This disregard may overlap with others, particularly the £10 that is not counted for a student loan. When this happens, a combined disregard equal to the highest individual disregard is made.
What else do I need to know?
Training allowances If you get the £40 Government Training Allowance, you will continue to receive this, because it is considered as a top-up to Income Support. Income Support and breaks in studying If you leave your course, you are no longer classed as a student. You can claim Income Support from the day you leave as long as you meet the other basic conditions for claiming. If you complete one course and start a different course, you are not classed as being a student during the time between the courses. If you are on an unpaid sandwich course or have to do a placement, you are classed as a full-time student during this time, even if you cannot find a placement or the placement ends early. Intercalating students If you intercalate (take time out from your course), you are still classed as a student. You can only get Income Support if you qualify under the special rules for students or if you have given birth to a child. If you cannot attend the course because of an illness, you can claim Income Support as a disabled student when you have been ill for over 28 weeks. Otherwise, you can’t get Income Support while you remain registered as a student on the course. Skill is working to change this rule. Contact us if you would like to find out more
If you were claiming Income Support as a student, you should still be entitled to it if you take time off from the course. For Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Jobseeker’s Allowance, you will usually be classed as a student if you take time away from the course. Most people will only be able to claim these benefits if they can do so while studying. Summer vacations Most grants and loans do not cover the Summer vacation, so you should receive increased Income Support payments during this time. You may need to check that it has gone up or remind the DWP.
How do I make a claim?
There are very few circumstances in which you would be able to make a claim for Income Support now. This is because since 27 October 2008 Employment and Support Allowance replaced Income Support paid because of ill-health or incapacity. If you think that you may still be able to make a claim, you should ask your Students’ Union welfare adviser or local Citizens Advice Bureau for advice.
6 How can I appeal against an Income Support decision?
You have the right to make an appeal if you are unhappy with a decision about your Income Support entitlement. You must make an appeal within one month of a decision on your claim, using appeal form GL24: If you think our decision is wrong. You can ask for a written statement of reasons for the decision. If you ask for reasons, this extends the one-month time limit by 14 days. If no-one sends you the reasons until after the one-month appeal time limit has ended, you then have 14 days from the date the reasons are sent in which to appeal. There is more information about this in the DWP leaflets on appeals. Skill also produces an information booklet called Making a complaint. See the Useful Resources section for full details.
Funding further education for disabled students Funding higher education for disabled students Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit for disabled students Making a complaint Studying and claiming benefits as ‘incapable of work’
Other Skill information booklets
Available in alternative formats. Price £2.50 each. Disabled students or jobseekers can get up to 5 booklets free of charge. You can order the booklets from Skill’s online Bookshop or contact the Information Service. You can also download them as Word documents from the Information Sheets section of the website.
Department for Work and Pensions leaflets
RR2 - A guide to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit DLAA5DCS - Disability Living Allowance HBA5DWP – Help with your rent CTA5DWP - Help with your Council Tax GL24DWP - If you think our decision is wrong DWP1003 - A guide to Income Support NI260 - A guide to Revision, Supersession and Appeal DWP1002 - Jobseeker’s Allowance
Available from your local jobcentre or the Jobcentre Plus website www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk (Leaflets and Guides section), or from the DWP website at www.dwp.gov.uk (Benefits A-Z section). Leaflets also include benefits claim forms. 23
Disability Rights Handbook Published by Disability Alliance First Floor East, Universal House, 88-94 Wentworth Street, London E1 7SA Tel / textphone: 020 7247 8776 Fax: 020 7247 8765 Email: email@example.com Website: www.disabilityalliance.org Priced publication. Gives examples of Income Support calculations. NUS Information sheets Cover welfare benefits and rights. Available from the National Union of Students (NUS). See the Organisations section for contact details. Student Support and benefits: England and Wales Published by the Child Poverty Action Group 94 White Lion Street, London N1 9PF Tel: 020 7837 7979 Fax: 020 7837 6414 Priced publication. Welfare Benefits Handbook Published by the Child Poverty Action Group 94 White Lion Street, London N1 9PF Tel: 020 7837 7979 Fax: 020 7837 6414 Priced publication.
Benefit Enquiry Line for disabled people England, Scotland, Wales: Tel: 0800 882 200 Text: 0800 243 355 (Open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 6.30pm, Saturday 9am to 1pm) Northern Ireland: Tel: 0800 220 674 Text: 0800 243 787 (Open Monday to Friday 9am- 5pm) Benefits Agency / DWP Website: www.dwp.gov.uk Free advice service provided by the Benefits Agency Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) Your local CAB should be listed in the telephone directory and details are also on the national website: www.citizensadvice.org.uk This site also links to the CABs welfare benefits advice guide that is available at www.adviceguide.org.uk Dial UK (national office) Tel: 01302 310 123 Fax: 01302 310 404 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.dialuk.info Network of disability information and advice line services (DIALs). The national office will give you details of your nearest service. Local DIALS can give advice on issues such as welfare benefits, community care, equipment, independent living, transport etc. Disability Alliance First Floor East, Universal House, 88-94 Wentworth Street, London E1 7SA Tel / Textphone: 020 7247 8776 Fax: 020 7247 8765 Advice line: 020 7247 8763 (Restricted opening times) Provide information on welfare benefits and produce the Disability Rights Handbook. 25
National Union of Students (NUS) 2nd floor, Centro 3, Mandela Street, London, NW1 ODU Tel: 0871 221 8221 Fax: 0871 221 8222 Textphone: 020 7308 6649 Email: email@example.com Website: www.nusonline.co.uk Gives advice and produce information on welfare rights for students. Offices also in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Students’ Unions Most Students’ Unions in universities and colleges have a welfare department or welfare officer who can give advice about benefits and help with calculations. Welfare Rights Units These are run by local authorities. Contact your local council or local library to find out if there is one in your area.