There are many reasons why your situation may change and you may need to claim benefits of some sort. Loss of job and income, being registered as disabled, having a child, finding a job but earning a low income, becoming a single parent or switching from full time to part time employment, all of the issues mentioned here could mean that you are entitled to some sort of financial support. There is no stigma attached to applying for something that you are entitled to, and may well have paid into over the years.
But finding out just what you can claim can be difficult. Filling in the forms, which seem to be the size of a phonebook and want to know just about everything can be daunting and off putting. Filling in forms incorrectly can lead to claims being rejected, and phone calls to the benefit office can face a long queue, automated responses and long periods of time placed on hold…and that is if you even know what questions you need to ask.
UK Benefits Guide is a website that might come in useful if you are applying for benefits, or a specific benefit for the first time. It has a comprehensive guide to most benefits, including child benefit, disability benefit and benefits for low income, this should answer most of the questions you have. In case there are outstanding queries, issues arising, or if you just need to chat to someone about your situation, the site also has the most up to date contact information about different departments, including a direct contact number that you can use direct from the site.
A change in your personal situation can be a frightening and harrowing time, but it is good to know that there are places where you can get the relevant information and answers quickly and efficiently.
We constantly hear about Benefit Britain, and how the amount of benefits claimed are now a major drain on the country and the economy, but there are actually many people who do not claim a penny of what they are entitled to. For many people, particularly those who were previously entitled to incapacity benefit, the idea of claiming at all is frightening, from the copious amount of paperwork that you are required to fill in, to just not knowing if you are entitled to anything, and therefore sticking your head in the sand. In addition, for those on low incomes, but still working, the question is always ‘am I really entitled to anything – after all, I do work?’
If you think you might be entitled to some form of incapacity benefit, or if you are merely trying to find some information on this area, you need to get in contact with the Employment and Support Allowance Team. As you would expect, phone lines to the ESA team are very busy, so you may find yourself on hold or in a queue. One way around this is to call ESA UK contact number provided by Contact Number UK which may see you put through quicker. A good tip is to have your paperwork to hand when you make your call, this will help you progress smoother and quicker and avoid delays during your call – or even the need to call back. Having your questions written down will also help to focus your call and get the information you need – keep a pen and paper to hand to write down any additional numbers, name of the person dealing with your query, and any additional questions.
You can use the ESA line for other issues as well as just finding out if you are able to claim. Late payment queries, changes in circumstances and also looking at ways to return to work can also be discussed with ESA, and will hopefully give you some piece of mind and improve your situation.