Incapacity Benefit

Incapacity Benefit is a non means-tested, contributory benefit payable to people unable to work.

Conditions for IB

In order to claim Incapacity Benefit, you must:

  • be aged over 16, and
  • be incapable of work - as defined by the incapacity tests, and
  • be in a Period of Incapacity for Work (PIW) - a PIW starts on the fourth day after the incapacity began. If you get well, but fall sick again within 8 weeks, you will not need to wait again, and
  • have paid or been credited with sufficient National Insurance contributions, or have become incapable of work before the age of 20 or 25 in certain circumstances relating to fulltime education (see below), and
  • not be entitled to any further Statutory Sick Pay.

The National Insurance Condition

To qualify for Incapacity Benefit you must have:

  • actually paid in one of the last three complete tax years before the relevant benefit year, NI contributions of 25 times the Lower Earnings Limit.
  • paid or been credited with 50 times the lower earnings limit in each of the last two complete contribution years (April to April) before the benefit year (January to January) in which a claim is made.

The “Linking” Rule

If you get better, then fall sick again your new claim will be linked to your old one - you will not have to wait 3 days and will return to whatever rate of Incapacity Benefit you were on before. Your entitlement will be based on the National Insurance contribution records at the start of the original claim.

Claiming Incapacity Benefit for People Disabled in Youth

Disabled people under 20 can claim Incapacity Benefit without having paid National Insurance contributions. A person between the ages of 16 and 20 can receive Incapacity Benefit after they have been incapable of work for 28 weeks. This qualifying period can start before the young person’s 16th birthday, so in effect they can be paid the benefit as soon as they are 16. From that date they will be paid Incapacity Benefit in the usual way.

Protection for Young People Under 25 in Education or Training

The age limit is extended for those in education and training. A person who began a course of education or training at least 3 months before their 20th birthday will be able to make a new claim for Incapacity Benefit up to the age of 25 under the non – contributory route. The education or training must have finished within one of the tax years before claiming

The Incapacity Benefit Payable Can Contain Three Elements:

  • The main Incapacity Benefit.
  • An age addition, if the period of incapacity for work began before the age of 45.
  • Increases for adult and child dependants, paid in certain circumstances.

The Basic Rates of IB

If you are over pension age (currently 60 for women and 65 for men) you can claim Short Term Incapacity Benefit for up to a year after pension age. There is only one rate during this year, with no lower or higher rate. You can also receive an additional payment from State Earnings Related Pensions Scheme (SERPS) if you paid contributions during the appropriate years.

Age Additions

These apply only to the Long Term Rate. The addition is payable at one of two rates depending on your age when your period of incapacity started. The higher is for those who became incapacitated before the age of 35, the lower if you became incapacitated between the ages of 35 and 44.

As with all non-means tested benefits, claims are initially based on you as a single person - so if both partners in a couple are incapacitated, then each partner could receive the benefit in their own right. Additions for dependent children have been abolished for new claimants. Claim Child Tax Credit instead. Existing claimants will continue to receive them.

An Important Role for Other Benefits

Disability Living Allowance

Any Incapacity Benefit claimant would be better off claiming Disability Living Allowance – as well. A payment of DLA at any rate would lead to the Disability Premium straight away and provide extra income from the DLA award itself. There is a three month qualifying period for DLA but don’t delay in making a claim.

In addition an award of DLA Care Highest Rate gives exemption from the Personal Capability Assessment. An award of DLA Mobility Higher Rate is also strong evidence for scoring 15 points on the walking part of the Personal Capability Assessment. The test is different for DLA Mobility, but is actually tougher than for the PCA.

Means Tested Benefits

You may need to claim Income Support as well, especially if you have dependants and/or get Disability Living Allowance. Even if you do not qualify for Income Support (many Incapacity Benefit claimants are just a few pounds over their Income Support level), you might still qualify for partial Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.

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Last Updated: 29.07.2008 at 17:36

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