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Benefits for people of working age

If you are under state pension age  and are blind or partially sighted, there are a number of benefits that you could claim.

Personal Independence Payment

PIP is a benefit aimed at helping you with the extra costs caused by illness or disability, including sight loss. It is for people aged 16 or over and under the state pension age when they make a claim. For people living in Scotland, PIP has been replaced by Adult Disability Payment (ADP), which is administered by Social Security Scotland.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
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Image: A smiling young man outside

Employment and Support Allowance

ESA is a benefit for people of working age who are unable to work due to disability or illness, with a contributory-based and an income-based version. Universal Credit (UC) has now replaced the income-based version of ESA for almost all new claimants, but there are situations you may still claim new-style ESA which is based on your national insurance contributions. Those people still in receipt of income-based ESA are gradually being migrated to UC.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
Smiling young woman standing in the doorway of her home

Image: Smiling young woman standing in the doorway of her home

Universal Credit

The government has now replaced several working-age benefits with a single new benefit called Universal Credit. You may be eligible for it if you are not working or on a low income. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in or out of work.

Universal Credit
Middle-aged smiling man, wearing earphones in his garden

Image: Middle-aged smiling man, wearing earphones in his garden

Calculate your benefits

The benefits you're entitled to depend on your own personal circumstances. We have an easy-to-use calculator that asks you some questions about your situation and then tells you exactly how much you may be missing out on.

The recovery of tax credit overpayments

Tax credits are administered by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). They are part of the benefits system that is being replaced by Universal Credit. Tax Credits comprise two parts: working tax credit and child tax credit and are awarded to people who are on a low income for their circumstances.

Overpayments and underpayments are a normal part of the tax credits system. This is because when you receive a tax credits award it is not finalised until after the end of the tax year for which it has been given.

If you have been advised that you have an overpayment of tax credits and action is being taken to recover it, please read our factsheet:

The impact (or not) of the benefit cap on blind and partially sighted people

The government has placed a limit on the total amount of benefits that most people of working age can receive. This benefit cap affects many benefits for people aged 16 to 64 and covers your entire household.

The good news is that you should be exempt from the benefit cap if you receive a benefit such as PIP, ADP (Scotland), DLA, CDP (Scotland) or the support component of ESA. As many blind or partially sighted people successfully claim these benefits, this means that the impact on people with serious sight loss should be minimal.

The “Bedroom tax”

You may have heard of the “under-occupancy charge” or “Bedroom tax”. This “tax” is a change to the rules for Housing Benefit – a benefit that helps people on low incomes with their rent – for people of working age that live in social housing (council or Housing Association tenants). The change to the rules means that you could receive a reduced amount of Housing Benefit if your local council believe that you have more bedrooms than you need.

If your council notifies you that they are reducing your Housing Benefit because of “under-occupancy”, please speak to our benefits advisers if you want to talk through your options - this could include applying for discretionary housing payments from your local council. Call 0303 123 9999 or email [email protected].

Housing benefit is not normally paid out to claimants of Universal Credit; instead, a housing element can be included in your claim to help with rent. The bedroom tax equally applies to this element.

Questions that others have found useful.

Advice you can trust

Our Advisers receive specialist training on topics related to living with sight loss, and many have personal experience of sight loss themselves.

Advisers are accredited with the Advice Quality Standard, an independent accreditation for organisations giving advice to the general public.

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