How to claim benefits Trafford Council is a ‘full service’ Universal Credit area, which means that you may have to claim Universal Credit instead of Housing Benefit for help towards your rent. You can only make a claim for Housing Benefit if one of the following applies: You and your partner are State Pension age You live in temporary accommodation provided by Trafford Council (including HOST) You live in supported or exempt accommodation If you fit in to the above categories please apply for Housing Benefit online at Housing benefit and council tax support claim. If you do not fit into any of the above categories you need to apply for Universal Credit online at Universal Credits: How to claim. If your Universal Credit application is successful then you will be required to attend an interview at your local Jobcentre Plus. Universal Credit does not include assistance with your Council Tax. Please complete the council tax support claim form if you need to apply for Council Tax Support. Benefit entitlements You can check whether you are likely to qualify for benefits incuding Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support by visiting Benefit calculators. You can claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support for you and your family. Your family includes you, your partner and your dependent children. A partner is someone you are married to, or someone you live with as if you are married to them. Special rules Special rules apply to the following people who claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support: Students People who have to go through immigration control People in hospital Prisoners People in residential care and nursing homes Young people aged 16 or 17 People who have to maintain two homes If you fall into one of these categories, you should contact us for more information. Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support The following people cannot get Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support: People who do not have a rent liability People who have over £16,000 in savings and investments, unless you get the guaranteed part of Pension Credit Most full-time students, although there are some exceptions to this If you are not sure, you can always phone for advice. Help to make a claim Make an appointment by phoning us on 0161 912 2220. You could also contact your local citizens advice bureau for help. If you have difficulty making a claim because you have a disability, we may be able to visit you at home. Please contact us directly for help. When should I claim? You should claim as soon as possible because you may lose benefit if you delay. If you apply late and ask us to pay for a 'backdated' period, we might not be able to pay you for that period. This is because there are strict rules telling us when we can and when we can't pay for a backdated period. If you are 60 years of age or over, you may qualify for an extra three months benefit prior to the date you made your claim. Documents needed This depends on your circumstances. You will be told what evidence you need to bring in once you have completed your online applciation form. Verifying my documents You can take them to your local library or if you rent from Harvest Housing Association, Irwell Valley Housing Association or Trafford Housing Trust you can take your documents to your local housing office. How much will I get? That depends on your income and whether you have other people living in your house. If you or your partner receive Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or the guaranteed part of Pension Credit. As long as you are liable for rent, you will usually qualify for the maximum amount of Housing Benefit. If you are a private tenant and receive Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or the guaranteed part of Pension Credit, you may not qualify for full help with your rent. There are also rules limiting the amount of Housing Benefit we can pay to single people who are under 35 and who have no children living with them. How benefits are worked out If you get Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or the guaranteed part of Pension Credit. For Council Tax, you will get the full amount as benefit after any deductions for non-dependants have been taken off. For Housing Benefit, you will get the full amount after we have deducted things like: any charges for any non-dependants who live with you; service charges Don't forget that if you are a private tenant, the amount of Housing Benefit you get might also be affected by the Rent Officer's assessment of your rent. In all other cases We work out your benefit by comparing the money you get each week with your 'applicable amount'. Your applicable amount is what the Government says you and your family need to live on each week. The applicable amount will be higher for some people - for example, if you are disabled or if you are a one-parent family. When we have worked out what money you get each week, if it's less than, or the same as, the applicable amount, you will usually get the maximum benefit. But don't forget, if you have any non-dependants living with you we might have to make deductions from your benefit for them. Please see the section called 'What if there are other people living with me?' - it tells you what non-dependants are. And, for private tenants, the amount of Housing Benefit you get depends on your Local Housing Allowance rate. If your income is less than, or the same as, your 'applicable amount', you should claim Income Support, Employment Support Allowance, Jobseeker's Allowance or the guaranteed part of Pension Credit as you might get more help. What money do you count when you work out my benefit? We count any money you have coming in. This includes things like: Social security benefits. Works pension. Wages. We count the money you earn from work after money has been taken out for: Tax and National Insurance contributions. Half of any money you pay into a pension fund. We do not count the first: £5 of the money you earn each week, if you are single. £10 of the money you earn each week, if you are a couple. £20 of the money you earn each week, if you are disabled. £25 of the money you earn each week, if you are a single parent. We also do not count things like: Disability Living Allowance. Attendance Allowance. Mobility Allowance. These are just a few examples. Sometimes, we ignore different amounts from other types of income and benefits. Savings and investments Government rules say that if you, and your partner if you are a couple, have savings or investments of more than £ 16,000, you cannot get Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit. The only exception to this is if you or your partner get the guaranteed part of Pension Credit. If you or your partner are under 60 and have £10,000 or less, it will not affect your claim. If you or your partner are under 60 and have between £6,000 and £16,000, it will affect how much benefit you will get. For every £250 (or part of £250) you have over £6,000, we add £1 to the money we count each week when working out your benefit. This is called 'tariff income'. If you or your partner are over 60 and have £6,000 or less, it will not affect your claim. If you or your partner are aged 60 or over, we will only use tariff income if you have between £10,000 and £16,000. For every £500 (or part of £500) you have over £10,000, we add £1 to the money we count each week when working out your benefit. What happens if there are other people living with me? If you have friends, relatives or anyone over 18 living in your home, you may get less benefit. These people are called 'non-dependants'. We may take an amount out of your benefit for each non-dependant who lives in your home. Non-dependants do not include: Your partner A child you get Child Benefit for People under 18 People in full-time education People on youth training schemes. We will not take any money out of your benefit for non-dependants if: You get Attendance Allowance You get the care part of Disability Living Allowance You are registered blind The non-dependant is a paid carer provided by a charitable or voluntary organisation The non-dependant is getting Pension Credit. When will my benefit start? If you qualify, your benefit will usually start from the Monday after you tell us you want to claim as long as we get your claim form back within one month of us sending it to you. But, if you think your benefit should start earlier, you need to write to us and tell us: The date you think your benefit should start. The reason why you did not claim earlier. If you get benefit from an earlier date, it is called 'backdating'. You must show that there was 'good cause' for not having made your claim earlier, and the maximum time we can go back is six months for Housing Benefit if you are aged 60 or under, or three months if you're aged 60 or over from the date you ask us to backdate your benefit. Read more about backdating your benefits. How will you pay me? If you rent your property from a private landlord you will (in most cases) receive Local Housing Allowance. This is paid directly into your bank account. We cannot usually pay Local Housing Allowance directly to your landlord. For more information visit our Local Housing Allowance page. If you rent your property from a social landlord, such as Trafford Housing Trust, you can ask for your Housing Benefit to be paid directly to you or to your landlord. If you receive Local Housing Allowance or want your Housing Benefit paid directly to you the easiest way to receive payments is straight into your bank account. This means you receive your benefit on the day that it is due and you can set up a standing order or direct debit to pay your rent. Please note that Housing Benefit cannot be paid into a Post Office Card Account like some other benefits. You will need to have an account with a high street bank. You and your landlord (if they are paid directly) can register to receive your benefit letters by email and/or register to view your claim online. This provides details of your benefit award and payments.