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Call our free helpline
0808 808 3555
The benefit cap - or household benefit cap - limits the total
amount of benefits that an out-of-work family can
Some families are exempt from the benefit cap, and this includes
anyone who has a dependent child getting Disability Living Allowance
(DLA) or Personal Independence Payment
At the moment the cap is:
Unless you are exempt from the benefit cap, your combined income
benefits is capped at a set amount. If you get more than this
amount then the extra you receive is deducted from either your
housing benefit or any Universal Credit payments you get.
For example, Anita and her partner live outside London and get
£115 a week in Jobseeker's Allowance, £171 a week in child tax
credit, £140 per week in housing benefit and £47.70 in child
benefit. This is a total of £473.70. Because their income will be
£89.08 above the £384.62 cap, their housing benefit payments will
be cut by £89.08 per week.
You are exempt from the cap if you have a dependent child who
gets either DLA or PIP.
If you have a disabled child but have not claimed DLA or PIP for
them yet, get advice about making a claim. It does not matter what
rate of DLA or PIP your child gets; any award at all will mean that
the benefit cap does not apply to you.
You are only exempt if you have a 'dependent' child on DLA or
PIP. If a disabled child aged 16 or above either leaves education,
turns 20 or claims certain benefits such as Employment and Support
Allowance or Universal Credit, they stop being treated as a
dependent. This means that their parent may then lose their
exemption from the benefit cap.
However, anyone who is getting Carer's Allowance will also be exempt
from the cap. This will help protect some parents whose disabled
child stops being treated as a dependent. So long as that parent
gets Carer's Allowance, they should remain exempt from the cap. You
will also be exempt as a carer if you have an underlying
entitlement to Carer's Allowance - that is, you have claimed
Carer's Allowance and qualify for it but your payments are blocked
by another benefit you receive.
In addition, those who get Universal Credit with a carer element
should also exempt. These exemptions for carers already apply in
Northern Ireland. Contact our freephone helpline if you are a parent
of a disabled young person, are receiving one of these carers
benefits and you are currently being affected by the cap.
You are exempt from the cap if you or your partner is working
sufficient hours to be eligible for working tax credit. This is either 16 or 24
hours a week depending on your circumstances.
If you work and get Universal Credit, you are exempt if your
earnings are at least £430 in that monthly assessment period. Other
groups are also exempt, such as families where a parent gets
certain disability benefits.
Special rules have been introduced in Northern Ireland that mean
housing benefit claimants get additional 'welfare supplementary
payments' to make up any shortfall in their housing benefit because
of the benefit cap.
If you were working for at least 50 out of the 52 weeks
immediately before you started claiming benefits and you either
lose your job or give up work through illness, you are allowed a
nine month 'grace period' before the cap is applied to your benefit
income. You must not have been entitled to Employment and Support
Allowance, Jobseeker's Allowance or Income Support during the time
you were working.
If you get Universal Credit, and your earnings (including any
partner's earnings) drop to below £430, a nine month grace period
applies so long as you were earning above that amount in each of
the preceding 12 months.
If you stopped work before you claimed Universal Credit, a 9
month 'grace period' applies so long as your earnings had been
above £430 per month in each of the preceding 12 months.
Get advice to see if you should be exempt from the benefit cap
or could become exempt by changing your situation. For instance, if
you have a disabled child but have not yet claimed DLA for them,
getting a DLA award will result in you becoming exempt from the cap
If you cannot become exempt and are a housing benefit claimant,
get advice about applying to your local authority for discretionary
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