Introduction to benefits

4 mins read

This advice applies across the UK.

If you have a disabled child, or you are on a low-income or not working, you may be entitled to certain benefits and tax credits to help with the extra costs you face.

In this article


There are a number of benefits and tax credits that you may be able to claim.

You might be eligible for some benefits because of your child’s disability. You might be able to get others due to your circumstances. For example, you may be getting Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for your child, Carer’s Allowance as their carer and Universal Credit as you are on a low income.

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

Benefits you might be eligible for

Welfare Benefits in Scotland

Most benefits that families in Scotland can claim are the same as elsewhere in the UK. However, there are some important differences; for example Child Disability Payment replaces new claims for DLA in Scotland. There are also additional benefits for Scottish families.

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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.

You can’t get payments for some benefits (for example DLA ) 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 (Social Security Agency in Northern Ireland) pay most other benefits.

Your local authority (Housing Executive in Northern Ireland) pays housing and Council Tax benefits.

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, they may be able to claim benefits in their own right.

Social Security Scotland administers some benefits in Scotland.

Get a benefits check

Use our Turn2Us online benefits calculator, contact our freephone national helpline or your local Citizens Advice Bureau or welfare rights unit to carry out a full benefits check for you.

Future changes

Most people who want to make a new claim for a means-tested benefit need to claim Universal Credit instead. Currently, this only affects new claimants and not existing claimants.

The government eventually plans to move all existing means-tested benefits claimants onto Universal credit as well. The Covid-19 outbreak delayed these plans. 

The Scottish Government has already introduced Child Disability Payment to replace Disability Living Allowance. Over the next few years, it also intends to introduce new disability and carer benefits to replace Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance and Carer’s Allowance.