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The Benefit Cap and Housing Benefit - who is exempt?

This advice applies to Wales

The Benefit Cap is a limit on the total amount of certain benefits you can get if you're of working age.

The Benefit Cap only affects people getting Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. This page is about the rules for people getting Housing Benefit.

Some people are exempt from the Benefit Cap. Read this page to find out if you're exempt from the Benefit Cap.

What does it mean if you're exempt from the cap?

If you're exempt from the Benefit Cap, this means your benefit won't be capped, even if your benefit income is above the limit of the cap.

You might be exempt from the cap if:

  • you qualify for Working Tax Credit
  • you're above the qualifying age for Pension Credit
  • you get certain benefits for sickness or disability or a war pension
  • you or your partner had been in employment for at least 50 weeks out of the 52 weeks before your last day of work

More about the Benefit Cap limits.

If you qualify for Working Tax Credit

You are exempt from the Benefit Cap if you or your partner works enough hours to qualify for Working Tax Credit. This applies even if your entitlement to Working Tax Credit is nil.

More about who qualifies for Working Tax Credit.

If you're over the qualifying age for Pension Credit

You are exempt from the Benefit Cap if you're over the qualifying age for Pension Credit. This doesn't mean you actually have to be getting Pension Credit - just that you've reached an age when you can apply for it if you want to.

If you're a woman, the qualifying age for Pension Credit is the same as your state pension age.

If you're a man, the qualifying age for Pension Credit is not the same as your state pension age. You will need to find out the state pension age of a woman who is the same age as you to find out when you qualify for Pension Credit.

The GOV.UK website has an online calculator which tells you when you can get Pension Credit, available at www.gov.uk.

If you're in a 'mixed-age' couple

If you're in a couple where one of you is over the qualifying age for Pension Credit and the other is not, you will usually be exempt from the Benefit Cap.

However, there is an exception to this if you're claiming Housing Benefit and one of you gets a working-age means-tested benefit.

The working-age means-tested benefits are:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance

If you get certain benefits

The Benefit Cap won’t apply if either you or your partner get any of the following benefits:

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP)
  • Attendance Allowance
  • the support component of Employment and Support Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Benefit and equivalent payments as part of a war disablement pension or armed forces compensation scheme
  • War Widow's or Widower's Pension

From 7 November 2016, you’ll also be exempt from the Benefit Cap if you’re entitled to

  • Carer’s Allowance or
  • Guardian’s Allowance

You’ll still be exempt from the Benefit Cap if you're entitled to Carer’s Allowance (CA) but aren’t actually being paid it. You might not be paid CA if you're getting another benefit, for example, contributory ESA, instead.

You will also be exempt from the Benefit Cap if a child or young person for whom you are responsible gets:

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment

From 7 November 2016, you’ll also be exempt if a child or young person for whom you are responsible is entitled to

  • Carer’s Allowance (even if it’s not actually being paid because they’re entitled to another benefit instead)
  • Guardian’s Allowance

If you are in a care home or hospital

You are also exempt from the Benefit Cap if you would be entitled to one of these benefits, but the only reason you can't get it is because you are:

  • living in a care home, or
  • a hospital in-patient

If you've been employed for at least 50 weeks

You'll be exempt from the cap for 39 weeks from the day after your last job ended if both of these apply:

  • you were employed for at least 50 weeks out of the 52 weeks leading up to your last day of work - time working abroad and on zero hours contracts can be included in the 50 weeks
  • you haven't claimed Jobseeker's Allowance, Universal Credit, Income Support or Tax Credits in the last year of your employment

Next steps

Other useful information

  • You can get more information about the Benefit Cap on the GOV.UK website at www.gov.uk
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