Thursday 15 March 2018

UK Benefits - What Can I Claim if I'm only on SSP?

As if worrying about your health isn't bad enough when you're diagnosed, we then find ourselves in a constant state of worry over our finances. For me it was a huge burden because I am the sole income earner in the family. I have a great job but having 3 surgeries means I've been signed off for a few months and unfortunately being new to my job means I'm only receiving SSP.

First of all I found a great website called Turn2Us that allowed me to calculate what benefits we might be entitled to. Still I was worried because I would still be employed just on a very low income so I wasnt sure if we could even claim for benefits.

Luckily following my Dad's illness I was aware that Macmillan had a help line that would be able to assist and give me some guidance. The helpline is fantastic, it offers help and support on everything from your illness and treatment through to employment law and finances.

 Macmillan Helpline: 0808 808 00 00 

Macmillan took all of our details and as we were in a qualifying area for the Universal Credit roll out, we would be able to apply.

You can find out if you’re eligible by using the Citizens Advice eligibility checker

The application process was relatively simple for us as we're online savvy. Just head to the Universal Credit site and click start. You'll be asked loads of questions about your circumstances, your earnings, savings, number of children etc. If it's a joint claim then at the end of your application you will be given a reference number so that your partners application can be linked to yours. They will need to complete the same questions and their income and earnings will also be taken in to consideration.

The amount of Universal Credit you receive will be made up of a standard allowance and any extra amounts for children, disabilities or health conditions and if you need help paying your rent.




You may also be able to claim money to help with housing costs - it's all dependent on your age and circumstances but it can cover rent, mortgage interest, some service charges and interest on loans secured against your house.

The final step you must do to complete the process is verify your identity. This was the only thing that really caused us issue as we had to have our Passports and Driving Licences available to photograph. Chris had lost his passport and I couldn't find my driving licence so we both used different apps to verify. I used the Post Office Gov.UK Verify app whereas Chris used the Experian Verification.

Once you (and your partner if its a joint claim) have completed your online application you will then need to call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 9344 to arrange a face to face meeting at the Job Centre. This appointment is for you to have your ID checked again and you will each be given a claim number.

Each time you receive an updated sick note (now known as a 'fit note') from the doctor you will be required to log it on the Universal Credit website and then physically take it in to your local job centre for them to verify and approve. You must do this otherwise your claim may not be processed. Once you have been your online journal will show as complete. I took mine to our initial meeting they just check it and then hand it back, then you'll need to send it in to your workplace so you still get your SSP.

It takes around 5 weeks for the first payment to come through and was paid direct in to the bank. Our Job Centre advisor was lovely and explained that if we needed help to pay our bills or cover any other costs while we were waiting for our first Universal Credit payment then we could do that with him.

In addition you can also apply for free school meals for your children and a council tax reduction while you are claiming Universal Credit. To apply you will need to contact your local authority. It's worth noting that claims are only backdated to the date you apply to try to do this as soon as you apply for Universal Credit.

If you have any questions at all just leave a comment below and I'll get back to you straight away.

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