Work and Benefits for People with Learning Difficulties


Work and Benefits for People with Learning Difficulties

East Bristol Advice Services
2007



Introduction














Introduction

This information about work and benefits for people with learning difficulties has been produced with the help of members of Bristol and South Gloucestershire People First.

It is produced in Easy English.

This information is for you if you are on a benefit mainly because of your learning difficulties and you are thinking of working.

This information gives you some important points to think about before you start work. But, it is very important that you also get advice from an advice centre about your own benefits. It is also important to do this because the law about benefits changes often.

There are a lot of rules about work and benefits.

Here we can only give you the main points.

We hope you find the website easy to use.

Please let us know if it is difficult to find what you want to know.

You can E-mail us at: mailto:info@bhas.org.uk



Contents

Contents

To find the information you want, click on the list below...


Questions you might ask
Special words to do with work and benefits
Different benefits
Different kinds of work
Full-time work and benefits
Part-time work and benefits
Permitted work
Voluntary work
Working if you live in a residential care home
Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)
Looking for work
Studying and benefits
Leaving work
Will I be better off working?
Information needed for advice on benefits
Useful addresses
Acknowledgements



Questions you might ask

Questions you might ask

Here are some questions with short answers.They cannot give you all the information. Please go to the information page you want for more details.

Q: Can I work and claim benefits at the same time?

A: If you are claiming benefit because you are sick or disabled, you can work and keep your Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance if the work is 'Permitted Work'.

For information about the hours you can work each week, what you can earn in wages and how many weeks you can do this type of work for, look at...

Permitted work.


Q: What will happen to my Income Support if I work?

A: You can earn £20 a week and keep the same amount of Income Support if you do Permitted Work.
If you do any other paid work, this will make a difference to your Income Support.

For more information look at...

Different benefits
Permitted work
Part-time work and benefits
Full-time work and benefits


Q: Will my DLA stop if I work?

A: You can get DLA if you work and you still need the same help with your care or with walking outdoors.

For more information look at...

Full-time work and benefits
Part-time work and benefits
Permitted work


Q: Will I be better off working?

A: This depends on what you will earn at work and what benefits you get now.
Talk to an advice centre who can work out exactly how much you will get.

For more information look at...

Will I be better off working?
Full-time work and benefits
Part-time work and benefits
Permitted work


Q: I want to go to college one day a week. What happens to my benefits?

A: You will be a part-time student and your benefits will not change.

For more information look at...

Studying and benefits


Q: Do I have to pay rent if I go to work?

A: This depends on how much you earn at work. If you stay on Income Support and earn £20 a week or less, you can still get the same amount of help to pay your rent as before you started work.
If you work, you can claim Housing Benefit.
You may still get some help to pay your rent, it will depend on how much your wages are.

For more information look at...

Full-time work and benefits
Part-time work and benefits
Permitted work


Q: Could I try out a job?

A: You can ask at the Jobcentre about a “Work Trial” if you want to work more than 16 hours a week.

You can also try permitted work.

For more information look at...

Looking for work
Permitted work


Q: What if I start a job and it does not work out?

A: Tell the Jobcentre when you start work so that you can get your benefits back if you have to stop work because of your condition.
It depends on how many weeks you work for, whether you can get the same amount of benefit back as before you worked.

For more information look at...

Leaving work


Q: If I start work, will I have to pay for my support worker?

A: You do not have to use your wages to pay for a support worker to help you at home.

For more information look at...

Full-time work and benefits (support at home).


Q: If I do voluntary work what will happen to my benefits?

A: You can do voluntary work and keep your benefits; you can keep expenses like money for travel or meals.

For more information look at...

Voluntary work



Special words to do with work and benefits
































































Special words to do with work and benefits

Benefits

This means money you can claim like Income Support, Disability Living Allowance and Housing Benefit.

To find out more about these benefits see Different Benefits

Capital

This means money you might have in the bank, the post office or building society.

It is the same as savings.

Income

This means money you have to live on, like your benefits or wages.

Decision makers

The people who decide how much benefit you get.

Better-off calculation

This is a sum to show if you are better off working or not working.

Find out if you will be better off working.

DWP: Department for Work and Pensions

This is the new name for the Department of Social Security.

Here is a photo of a DWP office in Bristol...

Jobcentres

These are places where people who are looking for work, or for training for work, can get help.

New Deal for Disabled People

Special staff at Jobcentres can help disabled people find work.

Here is a photo of a Jobcentre in Bristol...

Income Tax

This is money taken out of wages before you get them.

The money is used by the government to pay for things like hospitals and roads.

National Insurance

This is money taken out of your wages before you get them.

The money is used by the government to pay for things like pensions and benefits.

Minimum Wage

The law says this is the least you should be paid - you might be paid more.

For people who are 22 or older, Minimum Wage is £5.35 for one hour's work.

For 18-21 year olds it is £4.45
For 16-17 year olds it is £3.30

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Different Benefits




































































Different Benefits

There are many different benefits. They are paid to people because they are ill, disabled, looking after children, caring for someone or finding it hard to get a job and to older people who have stopped work.

Some benefits are also paid to people who work, if their wages are low.

Here is a list of some benefits to do with disability and work...

Incapacity Benefit

Paid if you cannot work because of sickness or disability.

Severe Disablement Allowance

Paid if you cannot work because of sickness or disability.

People who already have this benefit can keep it, but if you make a new claim you will now get Incapacity Benefit.

Income Support

Paid if you cannot work because of sickness or disability. This is extra money paid to you if your Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance is not enough money to live on.

It is also paid if you cannot work because you are a single parent or are caring for someone.

This benefit is means-tested. So if you have any money coming in, you will have less Income Support.

Jobseekers Allowance

This is paid if you are looking for work and you sign on at the Jobcentre.

Here is a photo of two people at a Jobcentre looking for work...

Disability Living Allowance

This is paid to people who have difficulty walking or finding their way, or who need some help to care for themselves.

There are different amounts because some people need more help than others.

You can claim this benefit if you work or not.

You can get this benefit as well as your other benefits.

Housing Benefit

This is money you can claim from the local council to help you pay your rent.

You can claim this if you work or not.

Usually, the more money you have coming in, the more rent you will have to pay.

Council Tax Benefit

This is money you can claim from the local council to help you pay your council tax.

It means you have less council tax to pay.

You can claim this if you work or not.

Usually the more money you have coming in, the more council tax you will pay.

Tax Credits:

Working Tax Credit

This is for people who work 16 hours a week or more.

People who have a disability may get extra tax credit.

Child Tax Credit

This is for people with children.

Carer's Allowance

Paid if you cannot work because you look after a disabled person.It can also be paid if you work but earn £87 or less a week.

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Different Kinds of Work



















Different Kinds of Work

Full-time work

This is paid work you usually do for 16 hours or more a week.

Part-time work

This is paid work you usually do for less than 16 hours a week.

Temporary work

This means work that only lasts for a few days or weeks.

Voluntary work

This is not paid work - you are only paid expenses, like money for travel or meals.

Permitted Work

This is paid work you can do for less than 16 hours a week and keep your Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance.

For more information click on Permitted Work

What happens to my benefits if I start work?

This depends on how many hours you work and how much money you earn each week.

See Full-time work and benefits, Part-time work and benefits and Permitted work for more information.

If you want to find out if you will be better off working, click here

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Full-time work and Benefits




















Full-time work and benefits

Full-time work means working for 16 hours or more each week. You can't get Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance or Income Support.

To find out what happens if you work and live in a care home, see Working if you live in a residential care home

You may still be able to get Housing Benefit (to help pay the rent) and Council Tax Benefit (so you pay less council tax), but you may not get as much as you are now getting. You may be able to get a Tax Credit if your wages are low.

This will be added to your wages.

You claim this from the Inland Revenue office.

You can get Disability Living Allowance when you are working.

You may also be able to claim...

  • A job grant of £100 if have been on benefit for 26 weeks and are going to work for 16 hours or more a week and the job will last for more than 5 weeks.

For 4 weeks at the start of your full-time job, you can keep the same amount of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit you were getting when you were on Income Support, Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance.

·         Money to help pay for things you might need to help you work, like travel costs or a support worker - this is called 'Access to Work' and is arranged by the Jobcentre.

In some parts of the country Jobcentres are trying out new ways of helping people find work.

You may be able to get an extra £40 a week for one year if these Jobcentres find you full-time work.

You must tell the DWP as soon as you start work.

If you get help to pay your rent and council tax, tell the council's Housing Benefit office as soon as you start work.

Support at home

If you work full-time and a support worker helps you at home, you do not have to use your wages to pay for the support.

When you start work you might have to fill in a form for the council.

Someone from the council will help you.

Will I be better off working?

You can ask an Advice Centre, a Jobcentre or a DWP office to work this out for you.

To find your local office, click Useful addresses.

Ask an Advice Centre to check that you are getting the right amount of Disability Living Allowance.

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Part-time work and benefits

Part-time work and benefits

Part-time work means working for less than 16 hours a week.

You will not be able to get Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance unless the work is Permitted Work.

To find out about Permitted Work, click on Permitted work

Most people will not be able to get Income Support.

But if you are a single parent or a carer, you might still get Income Support.

Ask an Advice Centre for information about this.

If you work part-time but you are looking for full-time work, you might be able to sign on at the Jobcentre and claim Jobseekers Allowance.

You must tell the DWP as soon as you start work.

You may still get some help to pay your rent and council tax.

You may be able to carry on getting the same amount of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit for 4 weeks once you start work.

You must tell the council who deal with your Housing Benefit as soon as you start work.

You can still get Disability Living Allowance when you work.

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Permitted work

Permitted work

Some people who get benefits because of their condition are allowed to work as well.

They can get money from work as well as benefits.

You must tell the DWP and the council, who pay Housing and Council Tax Benefit, if you do any work.

There are four sorts of permitted work...

1) If you are on Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance or Income Support, you can work and earn £20 a week for as long as you want to and it won't make any difference to your benefits.

This will mean that you work about 4 or 5 hours a week.

2) You can work up to 16 hours and earn up to £86 a week for 52 weeks ( this is one year) and still keep your Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance. You will get less Income Support but you may still be able to get benefit to help you pay your rent and council tax.

3) Sometimes the DWP ask claimants to fill in a questionnaire about their condition. If the DWP have decided that you do not have to fill in this form ( this is called being "exempt") then you can work for less than 16 hours a week and earn up to £86 a week. You will get less Income Support but you may still be able to get benefit to help you pay your rent and council tax.

You should tell the DWP you are doing this work as soon as you can.

4) You can also arrange to have someone to support you while you are working. (This can also be work, which is part of your treatment at a hospital.)

This is called 'Supported Permitted Work', the Jobcentre can arrange this.

You can earn up to £86 per week and still keep your Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance.

If you get Income Support, you can keep £20 of your wages, the rest will be taken off your Income Support.

You may still be able to get benefit to help with your rent and council tax.

You can do this work for as long as you like.

It is important to find out before you start working if you will be better off.

You can ask an Advice Centre to work this out for you.

To find out about this, click on Will I be better off working?.

To find your local Advice Centre, click on Useful addresses.

Click here to go back to Contents



Voluntary work

Voluntary work

This is work that you do but don't get paid for.

You can keep expenses like travel costs or money for meals.

You can do voluntary work for as long as you want to.

Your benefits will stay the same.

If you do a lot of voluntary work each week, the DWP might think you are able to do paid work.

Ask an Advice Centre to see how doing a lot of voluntary work might make a difference to your benefit.

You should tell the DWP that you are doing voluntary work.

You should also tell them when you stop working.

Looking for voluntary work

Most towns have an office where you can look for voluntary work.

You can look up the address in the phone book under CSV.

You could also ask in the local library.

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Working if you live in a residential care home
















Working if you live in a residential care home

While you are living in a care home the council pays for things like your meals, heating and rent.

This means that if you work, you can only keep £20 of your wages.

You will have to pay the rest of your wages to the care home.

You can work more than 16 hours a week and still stay on Income Support but you can only keep £20 of your wages.

If you work a lot of hours each week, your wages might be too much for you to get any Income Support.

This could mean that you have to pay for any tablets you get from the doctor and for visits to the dentist.

Before you start work, ask an Advice Centre if you will be better off working. To find your local Advice Centre, click on Useful Addresses.

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Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)





















Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)

How it affects work...

'Discrimination' is when you are treated unfairly because of your disability.

The law says that an employer must not treat you less well than other workers because you are disabled.

For example, they must not...

  • Refuse you an interview because you are disabled.
  • Refuse you a job only because you are disabled.
  • Pay you less money because you are disabled.

The law says that an employer must make sure that changes are made at work, if this will help a disabled worker do the job.

The law also says that an employer must make sure that disabled people applying for a job have the same chances as everyone else.

Some examples are...

  • Making sure that people coming for a job interview can get into the building.
  • Making writing at work easier to read.
  • Having a support worker to help you at work.

If you think you have been treated less well than other workers for a reason to do with your disability, you can complain to an Employment Tribunal.

You must make your complaint before 3 months has passed since you were unfairly treated.

You do this by completing a form.

You can get this form from your local Law Centre or a solicitor.

They can also help you with your case.

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Looking for work













Looking for work

You might want to work so that you can meet people as well as earn some money.

You might want to try out a job or learn some new skills before you start.

Help to look for work

You can see Jobcentre and New Deal staff, who will help you look for full-time or part-time work.

You can find out where your local Jobcentre is by looking in the phone book under 'J' or click on http://www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk/

You can also look for jobs on the internet by clicking on http://www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk/

You can also phone the Jobcentre on 0845 6060 234 and they will tell you about local job vacancies.

Trying out a job

The Jobcentre can arrange for you to work for a few weeks to see if you get on with a job.

This is called a 'Work Trial'.

While you are trying out the job, you keep all your benefits, but you will not be paid any wages.

You might get a permanent job if you get on well, this means you can stay at the job as long as you like and you will be paid.

Support at work

If you feel you need support to do a job, the Disability Employment Adviser at the Jobcentre can arrange for someone to support you at work. This is called 'Workstep'.

You need to check how your benefits will be affected if you start any job.

For information about this, click on Will I be better off working?.

To help you decide if you want to work full-time or part-time, click on...

Full-time work and benefits
Part-time work and benefits
Permitted work.

Learning new skills

You might want to learn new skills to help you get a job.

The Jobcentre can tell you about training courses.

You can talk to the Disability Employment Adviser at the Jobcentre.

You can also find out about training courses at your local college.

To find where your local college is, look in the Yellow Pages phone book, usually under the "Schools and Colleges" section, or ask in your local library.

If you can do a little bit of work, will the DWP think you can work full-time and stop your benefit?

this does not often happen to people who are claiming benefit because of learning difficulties. This is because your condition does not usually change.

But if the DWP think you might be able to work full-time they should NOT suddenly stop your benefit.

They will try to find out first how you are managing.

They will ask you to fill in a form.

They want to know how difficult it is for you to do things you might need to do at work, like lifting things, or answering the phone.

Ask for help at an Advice Centre if you get sent a form.

Sometimes they will ask a doctor for information about you.

They will write and tell you what they have decided. If you disagree with them, you can appeal.

You must appeal within one month of the decision.

You may be able to claim a different benefit while you are waiting for your appeal.

Ask an Advice Centre to help you appeal.

To find your local Advice Centre click on Useful addresses.

For what information you need to bring for advice on benefits and working, click on Information needed for advice on benefits.

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Studying and Benefits








































Studying and Benefits

You should ask an advice centre for help if you want to study as there are lots of rules about benefits when you are studying.

There are different rules for full-time students, part-time students, disabled students and students who are single parents.

Here we look at the benefits that disabled students can claim.

Disabled students

You are a disabled student if you get Disability Living Allowance, the disability part of a Tax Credit, or have not been able to work for 28 weeks or longer because of sickness or disability.

Disabled students can claim the same benefits as other full-time students but can also claim Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.

You may be able to claim a grant to pay for extra things you need to help you study, like a special computer.

Your local council can tell you about this.

You can study full-time or part-time.

Colleges have a list of courses you can study, for example, English, cookery and painting.

If you are under 19 yrs old

If you are studying for 21 hours or more a week you cannot get Incapacity Benefit.

When you count the hours, do not count any classes you attend because of your disability, such as extra maths classes or help with reading.

You might get Income Support if your disability means that you may not get a job in the next year.

If you are between 16 years olds and 19 years old you can apply at school or college for a weekly grant called an Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA).


Full-time students

This usually means that you study for 21 hours or more a week, or at some colleges, for 16 hours or more a week.

You need to ask at the college about your course.

Full-time students can apply for a loan (money you will have to pay back) or a small grant (money you can keep).

The local council can give you information about this.

Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit

Most full-time students cannot get these benefits but disabled students can claim them.

Council Tax

If you live on your own, or with other students, you do not have to pay council tax.

If you live with someone who is not a student and you get a council tax bill, you can claim Council Tax Benefit if you are a disabled student.

Disability Living Allowance

Full-time students can claim this.

Incapacity Benefit

Full-time students can claim this, but the DWP might ask about your college course to see if they still agree that you are not able to work because of sickness or disability.

Carer's Allowance

Full-time students cannot claim this.


Part-time students

If you are not a full-time student, you will be called a part-time student. You can keep your Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance and Disability Living Allowance and you can claim Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.

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Leaving Work

Leaving Work

Benefits when you stop working

It is important that you tell the Jobcentre when you start work so that you can get your benefits back if you have to leave your job because of your condition.

*If you work less than 8 weeks and then leave your job, you can go back on to the same benefits you had before you started work.

*If you leave your job before you have been there 1 year, you can claim the same amount of Incapacity Benefit or Income Support as before you worked.

*If you work for more than 1 year and then leave, you have to start a new claim for benefit.

*If you have had a Tax Credit while you were working, and you leave your job before you have been there 2 years, you can claim the same amount of benefits as before you worked.

*If you work for more than 2 years and then leave, you have to start a new claim for benefit.

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Will I be better off working?

Will I be better off working?

Before you start work you can get a better-off calculation done, to see if you will have more money if you work than you get on benefits now.

Some benefits do not change if you work.

There are some extra benefits you can get if you work.

Some benefits will be less or will stop.

Your benefits will depend on things like how many hours you work each week and how much your wages are.

You can get a better-off calculation done at an Advice Centre or at the Jobcentre or DWP office.

Click on Useful addresses to find your local office.

For what you will need to bring for a better-off calculation, click on Information needed for advice on benefits

You can also click on...

Full-time work and benefits
Part-time work and benefits
Permitted work

to find out how your benefits might change.

Click here to go back to Contents



Information needed for advice on benefits

Information needed for advice on benefits

You will need to bring the information listed below if you want advice on your benefits or if you want to find out if you will be better off working. If you don't have all the information, bring what you can.

National insurance number - this will be a number on your benefit book or on any letters about your benefit.

Date of birth.

What benefits are you getting now?

Do you have any other money coming in? For example, any wages from work that you do.

If so, bring your pay slips.

Do you have any savings in the bank, building society or post office?

How much is your rent?

Do you get any benefit to help pay your rent?

Do you get help at home from a support worker?

Do you live with a partner? If you do, bring in their benefit book, bank statement or pay slips.

If possible, bring your benefit books, bank statements, rent book, pay slips and council tax bills.

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Useful Addresses

Useful Addresses

Advice Centres

You can find an Advice Centre near you if you go to http://www.clsdirect.org.uk/ and go to the Directory section.

Jobcentres

Look on the website: http://www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk/ or look in the phone book under 'J' for Jobcentreplus

DWP offices (social security)

Look on the website: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/

Addresses are in the phone book with Jobcentres, look under 'J' for Jobcentreplus.

Inland Revenue (for Tax Credits)

Look on the website: http://www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/

Or you can telephone: 0845 300 3900.

Local council ( for Housing Benefit, Council Tax, Education, Social Services) Look in the phone book under the name of the council e.g. Bristol City Council.

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Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the Baily Thomas Charitable Fund who have paid for this information to be put on the website.

We are grateful to Barry's Clip-Art Server for many of the images used.

You are free to reproduce materials, as long as you credit BHAS, and do not directly charge in any way for written material in this publication.

Disclaimer :-

We have taken care to make sure that the information on these pages was correct at the time we wrote it.

We cannot take responsibility for any loss that a person might suffer by acting on the information we have given, or missed out, on these pages.

(C) 2004 Barton Hill Advice Service.