Universal Credit in Northern Ireland
Jobseeker’s Allowance has been replaced by Universal Credit which is for people of working age who are in or out of work. Further information can be obtained by visiting Department for Communities (DfC) - Universal Credit.
For enquiries about Universal Credit or support with your claim contact the Universal Credit Service Centre at Freephone: 0800 012 1331 or Textphone: 0800 012 1441 (for deaf or hard of hearing users and customers with speech difficulties)
If you are unable to work due to an underlying condition, are self isolating or are diagnosed with COVID-19, you should not proceed with a claim to ‘New Style’ Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).
Instead you should make a claim to ‘New Style’ ESA or Universal Credit.
If you are fit for work but have lost your employment because of the impact of the COVID-19 virus or any other reason, you should proceed with a claim to ‘New Style’ Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) if you meet the qualifying conditions.
'New style' JSA
Universal Credit replaced Jobseeker’s Allowance. However if you have been credited with enough National Insurance contributions, you may be entitled to 'New Style' Jobseeker’s Allowance.
You can get ‘New Style’ Jobseeker’s Allowance for up to 182 days. Depending on your circumstances, it can be claimed on its own or at the same time as Universal Credit.
If you get both at the same time, your ‘New Style’ Jobseeker’s Allowance payment will be deducted from your Universal Credit payment – you aren’t guaranteed to get any extra money.
If you get ‘New Style’ Jobseeker’s Allowance, you will get class 1 National Insurance credits. In some circumstances you may only get these credits and no money.
Complete your claim for New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance.
If you are unable to complete your claim online then you may also claim ‘New Style’ Jobseeker’s Allowance by contacting the Benefits freephone number on 0800 022 4250.
Employment And Support Allowance
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) offers support and financial help so you can do suitable work if you are able to. It gives you access to a Work Coach and services including employment, training and condition management support to help you manage your illness or disability at work.
'New style' and contribution-based ESA
If you are claiming or have made a claim to Universal Credit you may be entitled to ESA, known as ‘new style’ ESA.
Entitlement to payment of 'New style' ESA is dependent on your National Insurance contributions and works in the same way as contribution-based ESA. Your partner’s income and savings won’t affect how much new style ESA you’re paid.
You can get new style or contribution-based ESA on its own or at the same time as Universal Credit. If you get both at the same time, your ESA payment will be deducted from your Universal Credit payment – you aren’t guaranteed to get any extra money.
You can claim ESA by telephone, textphone or by downloading and emailing or posting a claim form. A digital signature can be used on the claim form.
You can download the ESA1 application form from the link below. There are also guidance notes to read before filling in the claim form.
You can return your completed form to the ESA Centre by email or by post. Instructions on how to email your form are available from the link below.
Employment and Support Allowance claim form
You can phone or textphone the ESA Centre and an adviser will talk through the application with you and fill in the form on your behalf.
If you use sign language, you might be able to use the video relay service to contact the ESA Centre using British Sign Language (BSL) or Irish Sign Language (ISL). To access the service go to:Employment and Support Allowance Centre
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
You may get SSP from your employer for up to 28 weeks if you become ill while you are employed. To get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), you must be unable to work because you are sick or disabled. Minimum earning levels apply. There is no qualifying period of employment but employment must have commenced. It is paid to you and subject to tax in the same way as your normal pay. If you are sick after 28 weeks of occupational sick pay, or if this ends earlier and you are not entitled to SSP, your employer must give you form SSP1 for you to claim Employment and Support Allowance. They should do this as soon as possible.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
You may qualify for DLA if you are ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland (NI) and you need help to look after yourself, or if you have difficulty walking or getting around. You must normally have lived in NI for at least 26 of the last 52 weeks. The amount you get depends on how much care you need (care component) and the amount of difficulty you have in getting around (mobility component). For more information visit: www.nidirect.gov.uk or phone 0800 22 06 74
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
You may get Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) when you stop work to have your baby. It is paid by your employer. SMP is payable if you have been employed by the same employer for at least 26 weeks ending with the qualifying week, which is 15 weeks before the baby is due. You must also still be in the job in the qualifying week and have average weekly earnings of at least the national insurance lower earnings limit. SMP can be paid for up to 39 weeks, this is called the Maternity Pay Period (MPP).
Statutory Paternity Pay
Statutory Paternity Pay is subject to PAYE and National Insurance Contributions and can be paid to an employee whose partner is expecting a child/children. It is paid for a maximum of two weeks. You can choose when to start getting your Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay. Leave can start on any day of the week on or following the child’s birth, but must be completed within eight weeks of the actual date of birth (or eight weeks after the expected date of birth if the baby is born early) from the date of the child’s placement, but must be completed within eight weeks of the date of placement.
You may get Child Benefit if you are caring for a child under 16 or between 16 and 19 and in full time education. There is no means test. Further information can be found by visiting www.nidirect.gov.uk or contact the Child Benefit helpline: 0300 200 3100
Tax credits are an income based credit for people who are in low-paid employment and people who have children. Entitlement to Tax Credits is calculated on a yearly basis and paid by HM Revenue and Customs. For further information contact the Tax Credits Helpline: 0345 300 3900 or visit: www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits.
Working Tax Credit
You may claim Working Tax Credit (WTC) if you are employed or self-employed and you are on a low income. You must be working a minimum number of hours each week – people with children and people with disabilities must be working at least 16 hours a week while others must be working at least 30 hours a week. The amount of WTC depends on your income, the number of hours you work, and whether you have children. Extra amounts are payable to people with disabilities.
A more detailed description of the Social Security benefits can be found by visiting www.nidirect.gov.uk.