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,
- 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,
- 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
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
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
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.
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
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
Last Updated: 29.07.2008 at 17:36