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How to claim Income Support

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

To claim Income Support, you'll need to fill out a claim form and return it to your nearest Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office.

If you're part of a couple

You'll usually need to give your partner's details for your Income Support claim if you live together as a couple.

The person who's likely to get more Income Support should start the claim process - check how much Income Support you could get before you start.

If you've claimed Income Support before

You can speed up the claim process if you stopped claiming Income Support in the last 26 weeks and your circumstances haven't changed. This is called a 'rapid reclaim'.

When you call the Jobs and Benefits or Social Security office, the adviser will ask if you've claimed before and send you a shorter application form to complete.

You can also download a rapid reclaim form on nidirect if you'd prefer. Complete it and return it to your nearest Jobs and Benefits or Social Security office.

Starting your claim

The easiest way to start your claim is to call your nearest Jobs and Benefits or Social Security office - find their contact details on nidirect. They'll send out a claim form for you to complete and return.

When you order a claim form over the phone, your claim will be backdated to the date of the phonecall.

Take the completed form to your nearest Jobs and Benefits or Social Security office. If you'd rather post it, send it by Royal Mail Signed For and keep the receipt - you might need to prove when you posted it and when it arrived.

If you'd prefer, you can download and print a claim form on nidirect. However if you do this, your claim won't start until your form is processed by the DfC.

What you'll need to start your claim

When you speak to the Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office over the phone, you'll need to give the adviser your:

If you're staying in temporary accommodation, for example at a hostel or with a friend, you can give this address instead.

If you aren't working, the adviser will ask how how you've been supporting yourself while unemployed - for example by using savings or claiming other benefits.

If you live with other people

If you live with people other than your partner, you might need to give their details during the phonecall. The adviser might ask you for each person's:

  • name and date of birth
  • relationship to you
  • income

This is so that your claim counts any income or support you might get from the people living with you.

If you need your Income Support urgently

You can ask for your first payment before your application is finished - this is called a 'short term benefit advance'.

Contact Finance Support to ask for a short term benefit advance.

Finance Support
Telephone: 0800 587 2750
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Calls are free from landlines and most mobiles - check with your provider if 0800 numbers are included in your contract.

You'll need to explain why you need the money urgently, and they'll ask you about your rent or mortgage, income and work. It's best to have details of these things ready when you call.

Backdating your claim

You should ask for your claim to be backdated if it wasn't possible for you to claim earlier.

The application form asks for the date when you want your Income Support claim to start - put the date when you would've been able to claim.

The Social Security or Benefits Office you send the form to will contact you to ask why you couldn't have claimed earlier.

It can be difficult to prove that you're entitled to backdated payments - contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need help.

What happens next

After you've sent your form, you should get a letter from the DfC within 14 days with their decision.

If your claim is successful, the letter will tell you how much you'll get. Contact your local Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office and ask for an update if you don't hear anything after 14 days.

This letter also tells you if you need to go back to the Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office for a follow-up interview. This is called a 'work-focused interview' and is an informal chat about your work prospects and income.

If your claim is unsuccessful, the letter includes the reasons why - you can challenge this decision if you think it's unfair.

Once you start claiming Income Support, it's important that you let the Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office know as soon as possible about any changes that could affect your claim.

Make sure you tell the Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office as soon as possible so you get the right amount of Income Support.  If you get paid too much, you'll need to pay back the overpayments.

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