If you have separated (or divorced), you may be entitled to claim new benefits or receive higher amounts of the benefits you already receive.
For tax and benefits purposes, you are classed as separated if you and your ex-partner are no longer living together. For you to claim the relevant benefits, the separation has to be permanent. If your separation is only temporary (for example, if you’re trialing a separation or think you might get back together) you may not be able to make a claim for new or increased benefits.
If you already claim some benefits you should report any changes to your cirumstances to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) immediately. By keeping the HMRC up to date with your situation, they can inform you of any potential changes to your benefits, be it an increase or reduction in certain payments.
However, if you do not keep the HMRC up to date with your changes, you may miss out on benefits you are entitled to or be claiming more than you should, which could lead to some costly fines.
We have split up but still share the same home as we can’t afford to move out…
Depending on your circumstances, one or both of you should make a new claim in their name only. You will need to prove that you are no longer living as a couple. This means that, although you are both still living in the same home, you no longer sleep in the same room, eat together, buy food together, do each other’s washing or ironing, or pay for things as a couple (for example, you should be able to show that you pay your half of the rent etc, even if you are paying it to your ex). If you used to have a joint bank account, you should close it. You should let your friends and acquaintances know that you are no longer a couple.
It can feel like it makes very little sense to live like this, particularly if you have children together, but this is how you have to make it work if you are to be entitled to benefits.
It can be quite difficult to prove some of these things. You should expect a benefits officer to come round to check on your arrangements. If you have difficulty convincing the benefits office of your situation, get help from an adviser.
You can call the Tax Credit Helpline on 0345 300 3900 for more information or speak to an advisor at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB). Here is a link to some further information on tax credits via CAB.
We have split up and moved out…
If you have split up and now live in separate accommodation, you can make a new claim in separate names.
Use the calculator on the Turn2us website to work out what help you might each be entitled to.
If you were claiming any benefits as a couple, inform the relevant office you have split up and are making a new claim as a single person.
When you separate from your partner, you may have a reduced income to live on. Applying for tax credits may be a way of increasing your income and relieving the stress a little. Whether you can get tax credits, and how much you can get, depends on your own circumstances.
Tax credits are payments from the government. If you’re responsible for at least one child or young person, you may qualify for Child Tax Credit.
If you work, but are on a low income, you may qualify for Working Tax Credit.
If you’ve got children you could get tax credits, but you don’t need to have children to claim. You may also qualify if you are working and on a low income.
Working Tax Credits
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) provide an online working tax credits calculator. You can use the working tax credits calculator to see whether you are eligible to receive working tax credits.
For more information about Working Tax Credit eligibility and amounts, you can also visit gov.uk.
Tax Credit Helpline
If you want to claim tax credits you will need to contact the Tax Credit Helpline on 0345 300 3900. You should also use the Tax Credit Helpline number to report a change in circumstances, renew a Tax Credit claim or if you have a question or need advice on Tax credits.
Sources: gov.uk, advice now.org.uk, Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Sorting Out Separation