Benefits and tax credits

There are a number of benefits and tax credits that you may be entitled to. Some benefits can be paid because your child is disabled while others may be paid to you for other reasons. For example, you may be getting disability living allowance (DLA) for your child and Carer's Allowance as their carer. Depending on your income and certain other factors, you may also be able to claim benefits such as income support, child tax credit and housing benefit.

Browse this section for up-to-date information on the benefits you might be entitled to:

And find out about:

Eligibility criteria

Each benefit and tax credit has its own set of eligibility criteria. This means you need to meet certain conditions to qualify.

  • To claim contribution-based benefits you need to have paid national insurance contributions in the past.
  • To claim means-tested benefits you must be on a low income, with savings of less than a certain amount.
  • To claim tax credits you must either have children or be in work - and the amount will depend on the household income but not savings.
  • For non-means-tested benefits like disability living allowance, the claimant will need to meet criteria not related to work, income or savings.

When to claim

When you know which benefit or tax credit to claim, phone the appropriate office straight away. It is difficult to get awards backdated.

Some benefits (for example Disability Living Allowance) can't be paid for a period before the date you claimed, no matter what the circumstances. So long as you are not subject to immigration control, you should claim now, even if you are not sure you qualify, as you could miss out if you delay.

How are benefits paid?

Some benefits are paid as tax credits by HM Revenue and Customs. Different offices of the Department for Work and Pensions pay most other benefits. However, housing and council tax benefits are paid by your local authority.

Benefits and tax credits are usually paid directly into a parent's bank account. Any benefits for your child - such as DLA and child benefit - will be paid to you as their parent. When your child reaches 16 years they may be able to claim benefits in their own right.

Future changes

Over the next three years the government will be making a number of important changes to the benefits system. Read our section on forthcoming benefits changes for more info. Our guide for parents Personal Independence Payment, Universal Credit and other forthcoming benefit changes is also available from our freephone helpline call 0808 808 3555, Monday to Friday, 9.30am-5pm.

Get a benefits check

Our freephone national helpline (on 0808 808 3555) or your local Citizens Advice Bureau or welfare rights unit can carry out a full benefits check for you.

Keep up to date with all the latest change to the benefits system by subscribing to our What's New newsletter.

Related information

Download our parent guide Money Matters - a checklist when your child has additional needs [PDF] to find out more about financial help you might be entitled to.

Browse our resource library for more information on finance and our parent guide to Benefits, tax credits and other financial help is currently being updated and covers topics such as:

  • claiming benefits and tax credits
  • benefits and looking after a disabled child
  • tax credits for working people
  • other sources of financial help
  • what to do if you are unhappy with a benefit or tax credit decision.

Sign up to our What's New e-newsletter to receive the latest updates about benefit changes.

Read our advice on support in work and finding and paying for childcare.