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Check if you can get benefits if you're from the EU

This advice applies to England

You might be able to claim benefits if you’re from the EU or European Economic Area (EEA) and you live in the UK. The EEA includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. You might also be able to claim benefits if you’re from Switzerland.

You’ll need to prove different things about your life here for each benefit you apply for. You might need to give evidence that:

  • you have the right to claim benefits in the UK - this is called a ‘right to reside’
  • the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man is your main home and you plan to stay - this is known as being ‘habitually resident’
  • you meet other criteria for the benefit you’re claiming - for example you earn less than a certain amount or you’re ill

If you've lived in the UK for 5 years or more

You should apply for 'settled status'. If you have settled status, you automatically have a right to reside.

Check how to apply for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

If you've lived in the UK for less than 5 years

You should apply for 'pre-settled status' - if you have it, you might be able to get benefits. You'll still need to show:

Check how to apply for pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Find out more about staying in the UK after Brexit.

Showing you have a right to reside

If you don’t have settled status you’ll need to show you have a right to reside in the UK to apply for benefits.

You might have a right to reside if, for example:

  • you’re working
  • a member of your family is working - for example, your husband, wife or civil partner
  • you’ve recently stopped working and are looking for a new job

It’s best to check what benefits you could get first. 

Check what you need to prove for the benefits you want to apply for. You’ll then need to find out if you’re eligible.

If you’re struggling to pay for food, you could get help from a food bank.

Your local council might also be able to help you. Find your local council on GOV.UK.

If you’re on a low income or you don’t work

You might be able to claim Universal Credit.

Universal Credit can help if you:

  • are on a low income or don’t have much money
  • need help paying your rent or mortgage
  • are looking for work
  • have an illness or condition that makes it difficult for you to work

If you don't have settled status, you’ll have to show you have a right to reside in the UK. You’ll also have to prove you’re habitually resident in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man.

Check if you can claim Universal Credit.

If you’re over pension age

You can’t claim Universal Credit - check which other benefits you can get.

If you’re ill, disabled or caring for someone

You might be able to get extra money to help cover your living costs.

You’ll have to show you’re habitually resident in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man and have lived in England, Scotland or Wales for 2 out of the last 3 years.

If you have an illness, disability or mental health condition

You might be able to claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

If your child is ill or disabled

You might be able to claim Disability Living Allowance for your child.

If you’re caring for someone

If you care for someone for 35 hours or more a week and they’re claiming a disability benefit, you might be able to claim Carer’s Allowance.

If you’re over pension age and need help with personal care

You might be able to claim Attendance Allowance.

If you have children

You might be able to get extra money to help cover the costs of looking after a child.

Check if you can claim Child Benefit.

If you don't have settled status, you’ll have to show you have a right to reside in the UK. 

You might also be able to claim Universal Credit.

If you don't have settled status, you’ll have to show you have a right to reside in the UK. You’ll also have to prove you’re habitually resident in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man.

Check if you can claim Universal Credit.

If your child is ill or disabled

You might be able to claim Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for your child.

You’ll have to show you’re habitually resident in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man and have lived in England, Scotland or Wales for 2 out of the last 3 years.

You don’t need a right to reside to claim DLA.

If you’re over pension age

You might be able get money to help cover the costs of looking after a child by claiming Pension Credit.

If you don't have settled status, you’ll have to show you have a right to reside in the UK. You’ll also need to show you’re habitually resident in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man.

Check if you can claim Pension Credit.

If you’re pension age or over

You can't claim Universal Credit, but there are other benefits you can claim instead.

If you’re on a low income or you don’t work

There are benefits that can help you with your living costs.

If you don't have settled status, you’ll have to show you have a right to reside in the UK. You’ll also need to show you’re habitually resident in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man.

If you need to boost your income, you might be able to claim Pension Credit.

If you need help with your rent, you might be able to claim Housing Benefit.

If you’re ill, disabled or caring for someone

You might be able to get extra money to help cover your living costs.

You’ll have to show you’re habitually resident in the UK, Isle of Man, Channel Islands or Ireland and have lived in Great Britain for 2 out of the last 3 years.

You don’t need a right to reside to claim Disability Living Allowance for your child.

If you care for someone for 35 hours or more a week and they’re claiming a disability benefit, you might be able to claim Carer’s Allowance.

If you need help with personal care, you might be able to claim Attendance Allowance.

If you have children

You might be able get money to help cover the costs of looking after a child by claiming Pension Credit.

If you don't have settled status, you’ll have to show you have a right to reside in the UK. You’ll also have to show you’re habitually resident in the UK, Isle of Man, Channel Islands or Ireland.

Check if you can claim Pension Credit.

You might also be able to claim Child Benefit.

If you don't have settled status, you’ll need to have lived in the UK for at least 3 months and have a right to reside here.

Check if you can claim Child Benefit.

If you're receiving benefits from another EEA country

You might still be able to claim some benefits in the UK. For example, if you're working and getting a benefit from another EEA country, you might be able to get Universal Credit.

When you apply for benefits in the UK, give details about the benefits you’re getting from another country, including how much money you get.

The amount of money you’re getting from your other benefits might affect what benefits you can get in the UK.

Check if you have a right to reside

You can find out more about the right to reside and check if you have one.

You don’t need to prove you have a right to reside to claim:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment

You can only use your right to reside to claim benefits until 31 December 2020. After this you must have settled status to claim benefits. Your benefits will stop if you don’t have settled status.

Check if you can pass the habitual residence test

You can find out more about the habitual residence and check if you can pass.

You don’t need to pass the habitual residence test to claim:

  • Child Benefit
  • contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

You can only use the habitual residence test to claim benefits until 31 December 2020. After this you must have settled status to claim benefits. Your benefits will stop if you don’t have settled status.

If you’re not sure if you can claim benefits, speak to an adviser from your nearest Citizens Advice.

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