Check if a change affects your Income Support
You must tell the Department for Communities (DfC) about certain changes in your money, work or home life. This is called a ‘change of circumstances’.
You might also need to tell them about changes that affect people you live with or someone you care for. For example, if someone you care for stops getting Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Attendance Allowance (AA).
Tell them even if it seems like a small change, or if it’s only for a short time. For example, let them know if you’re a single parent and your 4-year-old child temporarily moves in with your ex-partner.
You might be paid too much Income Support if you don’t report a change. This is called an ‘overpayment’ and you’ll usually have to pay the extra money back.
Most changes have to be reported within 1 month, but you should report them sooner if you can. This will help you get any extra Income Support you're entitled to as soon as possible, and help avoid an overpayment.
Changes you have to report
You have to report all these changes to the DfC, even if another government department already knows about them. For example, if you tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) about a change that affects your tax credits, you still need to tell the DfC.
If you’ve used the Bereavement Service to report the death of someone claiming Income Support, you don’t need to tell the DfC. The Bereavement Service will let them know.
Changes to do with your family
Tell the DfC if:
- you stop living with your partner
- you start living with a new partner
- someone over 18 moves in or out, like an adult son or daughter
- you get divorced, married or form a civil partnership
- your partner leaves the UK for more than 4 weeks - or 8 weeks if they're accompanying a child to get medical treatment
- you or your partner reach state pension age - you can check your state pension age on GOV.UK
- you or your partner start studying full-time, or if under 19, start an advanced education course, for example a degree or teacher training
- if one of you goes to prison
Tell the DfC if a child you’re responsible for:
- leaves school
- moves out of your home
- leaves the UK for more than 4 weeks - or 8 weeks if it’s to get medical treatment
To claim Income Support while not in Britain, your client or the family member they’re claiming for need to meet certain criteria. See the CPAG Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook, 18th edition, chapter 69 ‘Going abroad’ for more details.
For more information on how starting a course could affect your client’s Income Support, see the CPAG Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook, 18th edition, chapter 42 ‘Benefits for students’.
You have to tell the DfC if you or someone you’re claiming Income Support for:
- goes into hospital
- goes into a care home
- comes out of hospital
- no longer lives in a care home
If someone dies
You’ll need to tell the DfC about the death of:
- your partner
- your child
- someone you were caring for
- anyone over 18 and living with you
You should also tell them if you’re claiming for a pregnancy and had a miscarriage. A friend can do this for you.
You can use the Bereavement Service on nidirect to tell government departments about a death quickly and easily.
Work and money changes
You have to tell the DfC about some changes to your income or savings.
You must tell the DfC if you, your partner or any children that live with you and have left school:
- start working (even if it’s not paid)
- stop working
- start earning more money
- start earning less money
- gets more or less adult maintenance
If it’s just one payment, or won’t be the same amount regularly, explain how much money you think it will be in total and how long for. If you don’t know the exact amount, work out what you think it might be and tell the DfC it’s an estimate.
If you’ll be earning the same amount regularly, tell the DfC:
- your employer’s name and address
- how many hours of work each week
- how much money you’re earning - before tax and other deductions
- how much tax and National Insurance is being taken off the money
- if money is being taken off for a pension, how much it is and who the pension is for
Tell the DfC if you, your partner or any children that live with you and have left school:
- claim any new benefits (even if they’re not being paid yet)
- start getting more or less money - for example from other benefits
- stop getting a benefit - for example Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), PIP or DLA
Changes to your savings
If your savings were £6,000 or less when you started claiming, tell the DfC if they go up to more than £6,000. This includes any savings your partner has.
If you permanently live in a care home, you’ll only need to tell them when your savings go up to £10,000 or more.
If your savings were between £6,000 and £10,000 when you started claiming, tell the DfC if they go up to more than £10,000. This includes any savings your partner has.
You should tell the DfC if you get a one-off payment, for example if you inherit some money or property, or are paid compensation.
Changes to where you live
Tell the DfC if:
- you move home
- someone moves out of your home
- someone moves into your home
If you have a mortgage, you need to tell the DfC if the amount you owe changes - for example because you re-mortgage - or you take out a loan to do repairs on the house.
Changes to your immigration status
If you’re an EEA national and lose your ‘right to reside’ you won’t be entitled to Income Support anymore. If you’re not an EEA national, a change to your immigration status might also affect your Income Support.
This is a complicated area, so it’s best to get advice if you think a change to your immigration status or right to reside might affect your Income Support.
Reporting a change of circumstances
It’s best to report the change in writing so you can keep a copy of the letter and send copies of any evidence. For example, copies of your payslips if you’re reporting a change in income.
Write ‘change of circumstances’ clearly at the top of the letter. Give as much information about the change as you can. For example if your partner has moved out, tell the DfC their name, when they moved and what their new address is.
Send your letter by Royal Mail Signed For and keep the receipt - you might need to prove when you posted it and when it arrived. Send it to your local Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office - you can find the address on nidirect.
You should call your local Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office if you’re near the 1-month deadline to report a change - you can find the number on nidirect. It’s quicker than writing a letter because the DfC will receive your change straight away.
Make a note of the date and time you call. Also write down the name of the person you spoke to. You might need these details to prove you reported the change.
If you’ve missed the 1-month deadline
It’s better to report a change late than not to report it at all.
Call your local Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office as soon as you can. Make a note of the date and time you call - you might need to refer to it later.
You can still write to the DfC if you can’t tell them over the phone.
You can report a change up to 13 months late, but you’ll need to explain why you couldn’t report the change on time.
If the change is in your favour, you’ll get the extra Income Support from the date you reported the change.
If it’s not in your favour, your payments will stop or be reduced from the date of the change. This means if you reported the change after it happened you might have been overpaid. Get help if you have an overpayment.
Finding out how much you’ll get after the change
The DfC might ask you for more information so they can work out how much to pay you. They’ll send you a letter telling you:
- what information you need to send them
- when you need to send it by
It’s important to send the DfC the information they’re asking for in time - if you don’t, they might stop your Income Support. Call your local Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office if there’s anything you can’t send.
When the DfC have got the information they need they’ll write to you to explain how your Income Support will change. Look out for the letter - this confirms they’ve recorded your change of circumstances and will be paying you the right amount of Income Support.
They’ll also tell you if there’s anything else you need to do. For example, if you must make a new claim as a single person.
Check the letter to make sure the DfC has recorded the right change of circumstances. You should tell them if they’ve made a mistake by calling your local Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office - you can find the number on nidirect. You can ask your nearest Citizens Advice if you’re not sure the letter’s right.
If you don’t get a letter from the DfC within 3 weeks
Call your local Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office. Ask them if the DfC has recorded your change of circumstances. You’ll need details of what the change was and when you told them about it - for example proof of postage if you sent a letter.
Try to save the extra Income Support if you think the DfC might be paying you too much. This will make it easier to pay it back if you need to.
Your nearest Citizens Advice can help if you’re having trouble reporting a change of circumstances.