EEA nationals - claiming benefits as a former worker
To claim certain benefits like Jobseeker's Allowance, Employment Support Allowance or Universal Credit, you'll have to pass the habitual residence test. This means that you:
- have a legal right to live in the UK and claim benefits - this is called right to reside
- intend to make your home for the time being in the UK, Isle of Man, Channel Islands or the Republic of Ireland - this is known as habitual residence
European Economic Area (EEA) countries include all those in the EU plus Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Check which countries are members of the European Union.
Showing your right to reside and intention to settle in the UK can be difficult. If you're unsure about anything get help from your local Citizens Advice.
Check if you're a former worker
If you're an EEA national you may have a right to reside as a former worker or self-employed person if you have previously worked in the UK and you:
- are temporarily unable to work
- are starting vocational training
- are retired
- stopped work due to long-term ill-health or disability.
If you've a right to reside as a former worker or self-employed person, you may not have to show that you satisfy the rest of the HRT and may be able to claim means-tested benefits.
From 1 March 2014, you may not be accepted as being a former worker or self-employed person if your gross earnings or your profits in the preceding three months of work or self-employment were less than a 'Minimum Earnings Threshold'.
- EEA nationals - in work or self-employed
- If you recently lost your job and are looking for work, see EEA nationals – jobseekers
If you’re a Croatian national
If you’re a Croatian national, you only have a right to reside as a former worker if you stopped working either:
after 30 June 2018
when you were exempt from the special rules for Croatian nationals
If you're temporarily unable to work
If you've been working for an employer or as a self-employed person and are temporarily unable to work due to your illness or to an accident that you've had, you should still have the right to reside as a worker. There is no legal definition of temporary, but there must be a realistic possibility that you will be able to work again in the forseeable future.
If you're on unpaid sick leave from your job but can return when you're well you're still a worker and should still have the right to reside as a worker. If you're on maternity leave you're still a worker even if you're not being paid while you're on maternity leave. If you're self-employed but have stopped work for a period of maternity leave you can still be a worker if you intend to go back to self-employment after your maternity break.
If you've left work because of the physical effects of the later stages of pregnancy or the aftermath of childbirth you may still be counted as a worker provided that you return to work or find another job within a reasonable period of the birth. During the period when you are not working you may be able to claim means-tested benefits such as income support.
If you've started vocational training
If you've stopped working for an employer to start work-related training you may have the right to reside as a former worker. If you gave up your job voluntarily the training must usually be related to your most recent job. If you're 'involuntarily unemployed', for example, you were made redundant, your training need not relate to your last job.
If you're retired
If you've retired early from employment or reached state pension age and meet the following conditions you will have a permanent right to reside in the UK and will not have to satisfy the other conditions of the HRT. You must have:
- worked or been self-employed in the UK for at least 12 months before retiring and lived in the UK continuously for at least three years, or
- worked or been self-employed in the UK before retiring and have a spouse or civil partner who is a UK national.
If you've stopped work because of ill health or disability
You may have stopped work or self-employment because you've a long-term health problem or disability. This is called incapacity. If you meet the following conditions you will have a permanent right to reside and you don't have to satisfy the other conditions of the HRT. You must have lived in the UK for more than two years unless:
- you're permanently unable to work because of a work-related accident or disease and get a pension payable by a UK institution, or
- your spouse is a UK national.
- What is the habitual residence test
- The habitual residence test - how a decision is made
- What to do if you fail the habitual residence test