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Coronavirus and Benefits

Some temporary changes have been made to the benefits system because of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

To help you understand these changes we've put together some questions and answers that our Helpline has been asked, as well as where you can go for further information.


Age Scotland's helpline

The Age Scotland Helpline

The Age Scotland helpline is a free, confidential phone service for older people, their carers and families in Scotland. Our team provide information, friendship and advice. Our helpline is free to call and available Monday - Friday 9-5pm. Call us today on 0800 12 44 222.


Benefits questions and answers

Do I have to go into an office to make a benefit claim?

Jobcentres are open for essential appointments and support, for example if you need to make a claim but are not able to do so by telephone or online.

You only need to go to an appointment at the Jobcentre if you are specifically told to. The DWP will let you know by telephone, and if you are claiming Universal Credit, a message will also be put on your journal. 

You will need to wear a face covering to attend an appointment, and follow physical distancing and hygiene rules carefully.

The majority of face to face assessments for disability benefits are suspended. If you make a new claim, you may have a paper-based or telephone assessment. 

 

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What should I do if I already get housing benefit or tax credits?

Get advice before you make a new benefit claim – if you claim Universal Credit your current claim will stop and you may not be better off.

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I am due to go to a medical appointment for a benefit claim

The majority of face to face assessment are currently suspended, with paper-based or telephone assessments being carried out where possible. The Department for Work and Pensions will contact you to let you know what the process will be for you.

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How can I claim Pension Credit?

If you (and your partner if you have one) are State Pension age you may be entitled to Pension Credit. You can claim by phone or online or download a claim form from the gov.uk website here https://www.gov.uk/pension-credit/how-to-claim

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What is State Pension age?

If you do not know your State Pension age you can find out here https://www.gov.uk/state-pension-age

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I need emergency help

If you have claimed Universal Credit you may be able to get an advance payment to help until your benefit is paid.

If you urgently need money for food or fuel you can contact your local council and ask for help from the Scottish Welfare Fund.

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I claim carers allowance – what happens if I cannot provide the care I normally do?

If there is a temporary break in your caring because you or the person you care for has Coronavirus or is self-isolating your claim for carers allowance continues. Providing emotional support over the phone or online currently counts towards the hours of care you provide.

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The Department for Work and Pensions was going to review my claim. What will happen?

The DWP will contact you if they need to carry out a review or reassessment for a benefit you receive.

The majority of assessments for disability benefits are currently being carried out on paper or by telephone.

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What if my circumstances change?

You need to let the Department for Work and Pensions know about a change of circumstances that will affect your claim.

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My Attendance Allowance award is due to end soon what should I do?

If your Attendance Allowance claim is due to end in the next 6 months, and you haven't been told it will be extended or been sent a renewal form, contact the Attendance Allowance helpline on 0800 731 0122 to find out what you need to do. 

 

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Can I get help or more help to pay my rent?

If you are working age you may be able to get help with your rent through Universal Credit. If you (and your partner if you have one) are pension age you may be entitled to Housing Benefit to help pay your rent to a council, housing association or private landlord. The amount of help you can receive towards your rent for a private tenancy increased on 1 April 2020.

The Scottish Government have launched a Tenant Hardship Loan Fund, designed to help people who have had their finances or employment impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, who do not have other means of housing support.

Click here for more information about Tenant Hardship Loans and to make an application. 

Loans will be available for social and private tenants, up to a maximum of nine months’ rent costs. The arrears must have arisen since 1 January 2020. The loan amount can include up to three months of future rent payments as part of the nine-month total.

 

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Can I get help to pay my mortgage?

If you receive a means tested benefit including Universal Credit and Pension Credit you may qualify for a loan to help with your mortgage payments. The help can start as soon as you claim  Pension Credit, after 9 consecutive Universal Credit payments or after you have claimed any other qualifying benefit for 39 consecutive weeks. 

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Can I get help with council tax?

You may qualify for Council Tax Reduction which you can claim from your local council. Find the details of your local council here. You can find out if you are eligible for a discount or reduction in your Council Tax by using Citizens Advice Scotland's online Check My Council Tax tool.

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Can I get help to pay for a funeral?

If you receive a benefit because you have a low income you may qualify for a Funeral Support Payment from Social Security Scotland. Find out more here.

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I am self-employed and my income has dropped what can I claim?

If you (and your partner if you have one) are over State Pension age you may be able to claim Pension Credit.

If you and/or your partner are below State Pension age, and need to claim Universal Credit or already claim Tax Credits, see the Child Poverty Action group guide to benefits for self-employed people here.

If you are a self-employed individual or member of a partnership, you may be eligible for support from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. Click here to find out more information about the scheme

 

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I’ve lost my job or have reduced hours what can I claim?

If you (and your partner if you have one) are over State Pension age you may be able to claim Pension Credit. If you are working age you may be able to claim Universal Credit.

Click here for more information about Pension Credit and to make an application.

Click here for more information about Universal Credit and to make an application

 

 

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Where can I get more information?

You can call Age Scotland's helpline on 0800 12 44 222. The below organisations also have useful information and advice on their websites.

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